CNN Tees Up Liberal Comics to Push Campaign Finance Reform, Laugh at Romney Campaign

CNN brags of being a centrist news network in between Fox News and MSNBC, but how serious and non-partisan can it be when hosting liberal comics to discuss the serious issues of the day?

On Tuesday's The Situation Room, CNN's Joe Johns goaded Obama fund raiser Will Ferrell and liberal comedian Zach Galifianakis to preach campaign finance reform. "There seem to be a little bit of takeouts on the Koch brothers, the conservative brothers who have done so much funding of politics. Talk to us a little bit about the message," Johns asked.

Ferrell and Galifianakis cast their liberal quest as "nonpartisan" and as a common sense undertaking. "But the one issue that we feel is pretty nonpartisan is just the massive amounts of money that are flowing into politics right now," said Ferrell. "We kind of wanted to highlight the money being spent for all this stuff. It's kind of ridiculous," added Galifianakis.

Johns also brought up what CNN considers to be the Romney campaign's latest gaffe and asked the liberal comics for the reactions from their characters in the upcoming movie.

Before they went into character, Galifianakis erupted in laughter and Ferrell chuckled at the clip. CNN did not play any "gaffes" from the Obama campaign, however.


A transcript of the segment, which aired on July 31 on The Situation Room at 4:34 p.m. EDT, is as follows:

[4:34]

JOE JOHNS: There are some – actually some pretty racy scenes in this, but it really has quite a message, doesn't it? And –

WILL FERRELL: Yeah.

JOHNS: It's about campaign finance reform.

FERRELL: Absolutely.

JOHNS: There seem to be a little bit of takeouts on the Koch brothers, the conservative brothers who have done so much funding of politics. Talk to us a little bit about the message.

FERRELL: Well, I mean, first and foremost it's just a very funny movie. But at the same time we're – we didn't really want to take sides either left or right. But the one issue that we feel is pretty nonpartisan is just the massive amounts of money that are flowing into politics right now, and kind of pointing that out in a way that's also humorous.

JOHNS: And the challenge of this movie, I think, is taking a very serious subject and turning it funny, which – I'm no movie reviewer, but it seems like you've done a pretty good job of that.

ZACH GALIFIANAKIS: Well, it's tough to do a comedy if you're being preachy. We didn't want to be preachy, we just wanted to do some jokes.

(...)

GALIFIANAKIS: We kind of wanted to highlight the money being spent for all this stuff. It's kind of ridiculous.

(...)

[4:38]

JOHNS: Well, we've been hoping to get your reaction from your characters on some of the current events. We want to play you what Romney traveling press secretary said today in Poland to the press covering Governor Romney. You may have already heard this one.

(Video Clip)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Romney, do you feel that your gaffes have overshadowed your foreign trip?

RICK GORAK, Mitt Romney's traveling press secretary: This is a holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Romney, just (Inaudible)

GORAK: Show some respect, Jim.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We haven't had another chance to ask questions.

GORAK: Kiss my a**. This is a holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect.

(End Video Clip)

(Laughter)

GALIFIANAKIS: I haven't seen that.

FERRELL: Nope. Haven't seen that one.

JOHNS: Sort of right out of your movie.

FERRELL: Oh my gosh, pretty much.

JOHNS: What's your reaction?

GALIFIANAKIS: He's upset at somebody yelling a question? Is that what he was upset?

JOHNS: Right. Yeah. Yeah. Well, what would your characters' reaction be to that?

FERRELL: Oh. Um –

GALIFIANAKIS: I would just probably say don't use that kind of language.

JOHNS: (Laughing) Your character uses bad language all the time.

FERRELL: Cam would probably say, I use that language at least five times a day and sometimes you lose your temper. And it's okay to curse.

JOHNS: (Laughing)

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014