CNN Won't Call Out Barney Frank for Politicizing Boston Bombing, But MSNBC Did

Former Democratic congressman Barney Frank shamelessly used the Boston Marathon atrocity to promote his liberal political agenda on CNN and MSNBC on Tuesday morning, yet only MSNBC called him out for "making political hay" of the bombing.

"I would say this is a terrible day for our society, but a day when I hope people understand the centrality of having a government in place with the resources," Frank argued on CNN's Starting Point. "No tax cut would have helped us deal with this or will help us recover. This is very expensive." Yet co-host John Berman didn't admonish him for railing against tax and budget cutters less than 24 hours after the bombing, but instead offered some diplomatic praise of his words.

"He does bring up the point. Politics put aside today, we have heard from both Democrats and Republicans talking about how we all have to come together in this investigation, in this recovery effort right now. And, again, the Congressman also brings up a very good point now. The scale of the recovery, immense," Berman remarked after Frank spoke.

Yet as NewsBusters reported, MSNBC's Thomas Roberts called out Frank for politicizing the atrocity:

"Sir, you keep talking about revenue and infrastructure and the fact that we have the capabilities necessary to respond to something as atrocious as this. Do you feel like you're capitalizing and making political hay of this event that happened?"

On CNN, Frank praised the response teams at the Boston disaster and pitted them against advocates of smaller government and tax cuts: "It is very fashionable in America, and has been for some time, to criticize government, to belittle public employees, talk about their pensions, talk about what people think is their assessment of health care. Here, we saw government in two ways perform very well."

He added that it's "civilized" not to give in to today's budget cutters: "And this is an example of why we need – if we want to be a civilized people, to put some of our resources into a common pool so we are able to deal with this."

Below is a transcript of the segment that aired on Starting Point on April 16 at 8:20 a.m. EDT:

[8:20]

JOHN BERMAN: We are talking about recovery here all morning, as this city, as this state tries to bounce back from this. And someone brought up an interesting point that, in some ways, the recovery is based on the response. The response yesterday was so remarkable. They stopped the marathon midpoint and calmly moved some 5,000 people from the race course. There were moments of chaos right there, but they were able to clear the scene fairly well. What are your impressions of the response here in Boston, so far?

BARNEY FRANK (D), former congressman: I'm glad you raised that because it gives me a chance to make a point I've felt strongly about. In this terrible situation, let's be very grateful that we had a well-funded, functioning government. It is very fashionable in America, and has been for some time, to criticize government, to belittle public employees, talk about their pensions, talk about what people think is their assessment of health care. Here, we saw government in two ways perform very well.

First of all, the city government in charge moved efficiently and rapidly and bravely. Secondly, it has been seamless cooperation, that you've shown on the program. You don't know when it's state, when it's federal, and when it's the city. The police commissioner on the screen, the head of the FBI in Boston, and the Governor – and that also goes to the recovery.

Again, I never was as a member of Congress one of the cheerleaders for less government, lower taxes. No tax cut would have helped us deal with this or will help us recover. This is very expensive. You have adequately described thousands and thousands of people, examining every parcel, questioning people, checking things, providing the medical care. We're not asking people, look, do you have private health insurance or not? Can you afford this or not? Maybe the government's going to have to pay for it.

And this is an example of why we need – if we want to be a civilized people, to put some of our resources into a common pool so we are able to deal with this. And to deal with it, you can't simply be responsive once it happens. There has to be in place experts, experts in detection, experts in public health. So, on the whole, I would say this is a terrible day for our society, but a day when I hope people understand the centrality of having a government in place with the resources.

And you know, for Boston, this is an enormous expense. Let's be – the police, the fire -- at a time like this, no one thinks about saving pennies. But going forward, I hope people aren't going to think, oh, okay, well, you spent these tens and tens of millions of dollars, which is probably a low estimate. Let's just take that out of everything we have going forward. This is an example of why we need to provide the resources for our common good.

BERMAN: Congressman Barney Frank, thank you so much for being with us this morning. He does bring up the point. Politics put aside today, we have heard from both Democrats and Republicans talking about how we all have to come together in this investigation, in this recovery effort right now. And, again, the Congressman also brings up a very good point now. The scale of the recovery, immense. Doctors telling us they have never seen this number of injuries of this type all at once. Some 152 people now we know, recovering from injuries. Also the scale of the investigation, immense.

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