Sloppy: CNN's Lemon Ignores Ted Cruz's Own Words and Hits Him as 'Inaccurate' and 'Misleading'

[UPDATE BELOW: Cruz's office responds] CNN's Don Lemon smacked Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) on Friday for being "inaccurate" and "misleading" in grilling Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on the Second Amendment. Lemon didn't provide any transcript or video of what Cruz actually said, and it turns out he was the one being "inaccurate" and "misleading."

First, Lemon falsely claimed that Cruz argued Second Amendment protections were unlimited, and he cited the Heller case against Cruz: "But it also says – it also says the same thing, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. Is not unlimited."

Then, Lemon cited MSNBC's "conservative" Joe Scarborough calling Cruz's argument "willfully ignorant." Lemon later voiced his agreement with both "Chuck Scarborough" and Feinstein:

"And I think that is what Dianne Feinstein is saying and I think that is what people like Chuck Scarborough are saying. Facts are facts, and you can argue whatever way you want. You can try to create ripples, but you shouldn't try to mislead people with wrong facts."

So Cruz misled the public to believe the Second Amendment has no limits? Again, Lemon provided no transcript of what Cruz said in the highly-touted exchange with Feinstein. Nor did he provide video. So here are Cruz's actual words that the CNN anchor failed to report (H/T HotAir):

"There has been some suggestion that Heller would allow this regulation. I would point out that I am not unfamiliar with the Heller case. Indeed, I represented 31 states before the U.S. Supreme Court in the Heller case. So I have an intimate familiarity with that case, having been an active part of litigating it and winning 5-4 before the Supreme Court. And what the Supreme Court said in Heller, it did say there are some restrictions on the Second Amendment that are permissible."

Oh? So Cruz admits his knowledge of limits on the Second Amendment, completely contrary to what Lemon and Scarborough chide him for. The CNN panel completely missed this portion of the hearing. And here's the part of the hearing that CNN focused on, but failed to provide a transcript of, in Cruz's own words:

"The question that I would pose to the senior Senator from California is would she deem it consistent with the Bill of Rights for Congress to engage in the same endeavor that we are contemplating doing with the Second Amendment in the context of the First or Fourth Amendment, namely,  would she consider it constitutional for Congress to specify that the First Amendment shall apply only to the following books and shall not apply to the books that Congress has deemed outside the protection of the Bill of Rights?

"Likewise, would she think that the Fourth Amendment's protection against searches and seizures could properly apply only to the following specified individuals and not to the individuals that Congress has deemed outside the protection of the Bill of Rights?"

One could argue that Cruz championed unlimited Second Amendment protections here, but he was arguing that Feinstein's bill picks and chooses which guns do and do not enjoy the protection of the Bill of Rights. He didn't specifically say there are no limits on the Second Amendment, only that Feinstein's limits are arbitrary.

His later words vindicate him that he was not arguing for an unlimited interpretation of the Second Amendment. And CNN completely failed to report the proper context, following MSNBC in sloppily tarring Cruz as misleading the public.

[UPDATE (3/18/13 3:30 p.m. EDT)]: Sen. Cruz's office responded on Friday to "media outlets" who "attacked a straw-man" in saying that Cruz championed no limits on the Second Amendment.

Here's the transcript of the CNN segment, which aired on March 15 on CNN Newsroom at 2:01 p.m. EDT, is as follows:

DON LEMON: So we're going to start with this. We're going to start with guns, and the showdown that everyone is talking about. Senator Dianne Feinstein's clash with freshman senator Ted Cruz. Feinstein says Cruz patronized her with an unsolicited civics lesson on gun legislation. Let's get straight to our panel now. CNN contributor and Republican consultant Margaret Hoover, she is in Washington. Patricia Murphy is the founder and editor of Citizen Jane Politics, she's right here in Atlanta. And Democratic strategist Jamaal Simmons in Washington. Boy, this has created some fireworks, everywhere it has resonated. Patricia, I want to start with you. What's your take on the Feinstein-Cruz smackdown?

PATRICIA MURPHY: I have many takes, of course. First of all, I think that Ted Cruz was totally out of line. Senator Feinstein is a 20-year veteran of the Judiciary Committee. She wrote the first bill on the Assault Weapons Ban. She doesn't need a lecture on the Constitution. So in addition to being rude to her, this man who's been in the Senate for 60 days, he was also wrong on the facts. He is trying to say, he was making his case that there are limits – there are, well, unlimit – no limits, rather, to the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment, there should not be limits to the Second Amendment. Really, all three of those points are wrong. And the Supreme Court has held that there are limits to the Second Amendment. That is really what Senator Feinstein was saying. And Ted Cruz was wrong in every point that he was making against her.

LEMON: You're talking about the Constitution. You're talking also about the Heller decision from 2008, right? Which said that – held the Second Amendment up. "The United States Constitution protects an individual's right to possess a firearm. But it also says – it also says the same thing, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. Is not unlimited. He is getting it not only from Democrats, but also from Republicans, from conservatives as well. Joe Scarborough went after him this morning on Morning Joe. Take a look.

(Video Clip)

JOE SCARBOROUGH, co-host, MSNBC's Morning Joe: Did they teach Ted Cruz to read what the Supreme Court said? Especially in the landmark – the landmark decision regarding Second Amendment rights. Over 200 years was written in 2008. And I'm just wondering, why would he use his seat on the Judiciary Committee, if he went to Harvard, to – to put forward a willfully ignorant statement about this bill violating the Second Amendment? Because it does not.

(End Video Clip)

LEMON: Margaret, woeful ignorance. Do you agree with Scarborough?

MARGARET HOOVER: No. No, well look, let's step back for a second here. Let's put into context what's really going on. You have a freshman senator trying to make his name on the Hill, he was elected by a Tea Party wave, he represents, you know, firmly the right wing of the conservative movement. And he's making ripples, I think, the country is looking for style, a tonal shift. I think this rift -- this bothers people, the tone and tenor that he's taken, but the truth is, Ted Cruz is representing a vast number of gun owners who frankly don't want their gun rights taken away. I think we have seen categorically across the country there is a high degree of support for some controls being implemented –  

LEMON: Margaret, I understand what you're saying. Had he said that, but that's not what he said. That's not what he said. Creating ripples is one thing, but telling the truth and the facts, that's another thing. He's not – what he's saying is inaccurate about the Constitution.

HOOVER: Well, look, I mean, he – it's my understanding, Don, that, and, first of all, we know he has a J.D. from Harvard. We know that he has argued gun cases in front of the Supreme Court. My understanding is that he was party to the Heller case. This is a man who is eminently familiar with the law. I don't think he's using his senate seat uttering falsities about what the Constitution says. He was making a case for the Second Amendment. I think what we're upset about is the tone and tenor he took with Dianne Feinstein, which is a fair point.

(...)

LEMON: We're talking about the facts and what the law says about that ruling and about our Second Amendment. And I think that is what Dianne Feinstein is saying and I think that is what people like Chuck Scarborough are saying. Facts are facts, and you can argue whatever way you want. You can try to create ripples, but you shouldn't try to mislead people with wrong facts.

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