CNN Whacks 'Dysfunctional' Senate GOP and McConnell's 'Vicious' Words; Ignores Harry Reid's Hypocrisy

On Friday's New Day, CNN slapped Senate Republicans for "vicious" rhetoric and "dysfunctional" behavior while ignoring Majority Leader Harry Reid's hypocrisy and President Obama's controversial recess appointments.

After Republicans refused to approve the President's nominees to various federal agencies, including three that were appointed without the confirmation of the Senate which was in "pro forma" session at the time, Majority Leader Harry Reid threatened to do away with the filibuster on Thursday. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell ripped into Reid, and CNN harped on his "vicious" rhetoric and the "dysfunctional" intransigence of Republicans.

Co-host Kate Bolduan reported "this was pretty vicious in what Mitch McConnell was saying about Harry – towards Harry Reid." Correspondent John King actually gave credence to Reid's threat, slamming Republicans for not cooperating with the President:

"This is an incredibly dysfunctional place right now, and the Democrats and Harry Reid have every right and every reason to say this Republican minority has sort of taken it to a new level in blocking presidential nominees."

He continued that "Both parties have used their minority power in the Senate when they've been in the minority to block nominees, to block hearings," but added that "Mitch McConnell and his Republican minority have taken that to a new level, no question."

However, CNN completely ignored Reid's hypocrisy on the "nuclear option," which Time's Michael Scherer documented. In 2005, Reid slammed Republicans, then in the majority, for threatening to nix the filibuster.

Then in paddling Republicans for intransigence, CNN also failed to report that three of the nominees were appointed by the President while the Senate was in "pro forma session," and thus were unlawfully made without Senate confirmation. A federal court ruled the appointments unconstitutional, and the case will be heard before the Supreme Court.

Below is the segment, which aired on New Day on July 12 at 6:30 a.m. EDT:

KATE BOLDUAN: All right, everybody. It's time for our political gut check, all the stories you need to know coming straight out of Washington. Pretty – vicious words come out of Washington quite a bit, but these were pretty vicious on the Senate floor Thursday.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell blasting the Democratic Leader Harry Reid for preparing to kind of move forward what is now called the "nuclear option" to change some Senate rules. This means CNN's chief national correspondent John King must be here to break it down. Any time I hear "nuclear option," I know I have to talk to you about it, that's for sure.

But – so, John, in covering Congress, I know that when they often fight about procedure often when they don't think they're getting – they're getting their way, but this was pretty vicious in what Mitch McConnell was saying about Harry – towards Harry Reid. Let's show folks what he said and then we'll talk about it. Listen to this.

(Video Clip)

Sen. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-Kent), Minority Leader: This is really a sad, sad day for the United States Senate, and if we don't pull back from the brink here, my friend, the Majority Leader, is going to be remembered as the worst leader of the Senate ever.

(End Video Clip)

BOLDUAN: "The worst leader of the Senate ever," and this is over Harry Reid threatening to push forward with kind of changing the rules and limiting filibusters as it relates to presidential nominees. Presidential nominees, what's going on?

JOHN KING, CNN chief national correspondent: Let's first put "my friend" in quotation marks when you hear Mitch McConnell say "my friend". Look, these two have been at this now for six or seven years as the leader of their respective parties in the Senate. The Senate is incredibly dysfunctional. We often talk about the House, but the Senate, you know, is the graveyard for a lot of things in Washington. I would say, to understand the Senate, you need to go back to the fifth grade. But I think the fifth grade would probably rightly so sue me for slander.

This is an incredibly dysfunctional place right now, and the Democrats and Harry Reid have every right and every reason to say this Republican minority has sort of taken it to a new level in blocking presidential nominees. This has happened. Republicans have done it in the past. Democrats have done it in the past, just back in the Bush administration.

Both parties have used their minority power in the Senate when they've been in the minority to block nominees, to block hearings, you know, to block a nominee for a job over something that has nothing to do with that job, just because they want answers about some other question or they're mad about something else. And Mitch McConnell and his Republican minority have taken that to a new level, no question.

But then, the question is – do you change the rules of the Senate, which go back to the Founding Fathers, which are designed – which are designed to give the minority extra power, so that the big states don't abuse the little states, so that urban interests don't roll over rural interests. And that's a big debate Washington is now having.

The problem is, is it a debate Washington should have? Maybe, the times have changed, technology have changed. But is this the cast of characters you want to have it? That's a big question.

BOLDUAN: And the rules are there to stand the test of time, and to stand in the face of the changing political winds. This is – when I was reading up on everything that was going on here, some people are wondering, is this the beginning of the end of the filibuster?

KING: It could well be, and that filibuster, again, is designed to give the minority extra power. So that the big money interests can't buy their way through Washington, so that the little guy can stand up to the big guy. Is it abused sometimes? And have both parties abused it in recent years? Yes. There's no question about that. Do they use it more for political purposes than for principal purposes in recent years? Yes.

Is that a reason to blow up the whole thing, to change the rules? That's a debate that's now full, front-and-center in Washington. Most of the country doesn't pay any attention to this. Maybe they should because it's important. If you start changing the rules of the Senate, again, it was set up for a reason. The question is, again, do the American people trust this Congress, these guys to have that conversation? I think not.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, it's not sexy but it is important with how laws are made and how it impacts the people who vote these guys into power.
 

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