CNN Pounces on Ailes Calling Obama 'Lazy;' Mostly Ignores That He Cited Obama's Words

CNN harped on the controversy over Fox News head Roger Ailes calling President Obama "lazy" and Vice President Biden "dumb as an ashtray." The network covered it on five shows on Wednesday and Thursday, but three of the shows ignored that Ailes used Obama's own words.

In making the "lazy" remark, Ailes cited a 2011 interview with Barbara Walters where Obama said that "deep down, underneath all the work that I do, I think there's a laziness in me." Erin Burnett was the only CNN anchor to promptly give that context in her report; on Thursday's Starting Point, conservative panel member Will Cain first brought it up, and co-host John Berman affirmed it.

The five CNN shows that covered the Ailes remarks were (on Wednesday) the 1 p.m. ET hour of CNN Newsroom, The Situation Room, Erin Burnett OutFront, Piers Morgan Tonight, and (on Thursday) Starting Point.

CNN emphasized the controversy of what its rival Ailes said. Burnett even asked "are those comments racially charged or just frank talk?"

"President Obama is lazy. These are the explosive comments made by Fox News chief Roger Ailes," began Burnett, who did use the whole Ailes quote and affirmed that Obama had indeed used that word "lazy."

Piers Morgan discussed the story with his panel and brought it up again with guest Don King: "He called the President, Barack Obama – he said, never done a day's work in his life and is lazy, which is pretty offensive, any way you look at it."

"That's not so nice," said Democratic strategist Richard Socarides on Thursday's Starting Point before co-host Soledad O'Brien added "You think? And that's just the beginning clearly." Then Will Cain of TheBlaze.com provided the context: "Roger Ailes wasn't coming up with that on his own. And he made a point of making that." O'Brien was skeptical before co-host John Berman affirmed, "Barack Obama used the words 'lazy.'"

During Wednesday's 1 p.m. ET hour of Newsroom, CNN's media critic Howard Kurtz had this to say about Ailes:

"But my overall reaction, Brianna, is there he goes again. Roger Ailes doesn't tend to filter himself when he talks about politics. Now, any other news channel head would get in trouble for these kind of comments, but Ailes plays by his own set of rules; he makes a lot of money for Rupert Murdoch. And so this is not going to bother him."

"But Roger Ailes, who's always outspoken, he's got some blunt words about the President," reported The Situation Room host Wolf Blitzer. He said of the Biden remarks, "Wow. 'Dumb as an ashtray.' That's – I know Joe Biden. He is not dumb. Certainly not dumb as an ashtray. He's a very intelligent guy."

So Kurtz, Blitzer, and Morgan all omitted that Obama at one point said he can be lazy. Soledad O'Brien didn't report it until Will Cain and John Berman brought it to her attention.

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