CNN anchor Campbell Brown blasted the critics of the initial curriculum for President Obama’s speech to school children on her program on Tuesday. She first advised them to “admit this whole episode was just nutty,” and later accused Republicans of “pushing some insane stuff.” The CNN anchor omitted any mention of the curriculum, making it look like the critics were overreacting to the speech itself [audio clips from Brown’s program are available here].
Brown led her program with the insinuation that not only conservatives who objected to the suggested lesson plan the Department of Education first released were insane, but also the anti-ObamaCare town hall protesters. As stock video from the health care town hall ran on-screen, the CNN anchor commented during her voice-over that “after a long, insane summer of wild attacks and mudslinging, we are hitting the reset button. It's time to get real and get at the facts.”
Two minutes later, Brown zeroed-in on the criticism raised by Jim Greer, the head of the Florida Republican Party before she played clips from the Obama speech: “Last week, the chairman of the Florida Republican Party accused the President of trying to indoctrinate our kids. And it only got worse from there- hand-wringing on the right, parents pulling their kids out of class, urging their principals not to play the President’s address. Well, today, the President spoke- no socialist screed, this.” After playing the sound bites, as well as clips from the media and pundits reacting to the speech, the anchor commented that “even Newt Gingrich today [was] praising the President’s speech, saying every American child should real it. Some Republicans in Florida [are] probably feeling a little foolish right about now. “
Later in the program, Ms. Brown unleashed all of her fire on the conservative critics:
BROWN: I want to take a minute to talk about some of the insanity we have witnessed over the past few days- the ridiculous charge that the President of the United States addressing American schoolchildren is somehow a dangerous thing. Believe it or not, this was a huge deal over Labor Day weekend. We heard overheated warnings that the President was trying to indoctrinate our kids and sow the seeds of socialism. We saw tearful parents vowing to pull their kids out of school, and today, the speech happened. Most people agreed it was pretty harmless- study hard kind of stuff. So now, can we all take a deep breath and admit this whole episode was just nutty? I mean, don’t we feel a little bit silly right now for even debating the issue?
She then brought on Mary Matalin, CNN political analyst Roland Martin, and John Avlon of the Daily Beast to discuss the Obama speech, along with other political topics. Brown pressed Matalin on the controversy, and continued her attacks on the conservatives. Even after the former Cheney advisor reminded her of the proposed Department of Education lesson plan, the anchor stated that the issue “seemed crazy to me:”
BROWN: Mary, let me start with you here. Conservative attacks on the President have grown increasingly vicious. You saw some of the highlights there. Now that the summer is over, are we finally going to get a break?
MARY MATALIN: Well, we saw highlights of the what you and I know to be the case, that politics is showbiz for ugly people-that was a lot of showbiz. But who’s angry and who moved numbers and why the White House feels compelled to take this strategic reset moment- a very defensive moment- is because the independents that are- have fallen out of favor with him, and conservative Democrats. And this is- you can blame this on Republicans. He’s trying to blame it on Republicans, but it’s the Democrats and independents who have abandoned him in droves. That’s what- that’s what the anger is coming from. And you know what, Campbell? It preceded health care. It goes back to the stimulus package, which was nothing that the President promised it would be and continues to be ineffective. So yeah- he lost control because regular Americans thought they were losing control.
BROWN: But- but Mary, let me just- I think you’ve got to concede here that- that leaders within the Republican Party have been pushing some insane stuff. I mean, look at the chairman of the Florida Republican Party, who’s the one out there warning that the President’s trying to indoctrinate children with this back-to-school speech- saying this before he had even read the speech. You know, once he had, he later said- oh, well, it’s fine. I mean, how do we stop these sort of knee-jerk partisan reactions that don’t get us anywhere in terms of a thoughtful conversation?
MATALIN: Well, thoughtful conservatives should be wary of what goes on in public schools. My own children- and you would be concerned about this when your kids are this age- were forced to watch ‘An Inconvenient Truth.’ I completely disagree with that. When I raised that objection, I was told that I could come and tell the doubters’ side. Okay, but parents concerned about this.
BROWN: But- but Mary, this is a speech by the President of the United States. Are you concerned about your children watching a speech from the President of the United States about- about going back to school? Would that bother you?
MATALIN: If the speech was what was it was originally suggested it was going to be- ‘How can I help President Obama?’ - yes, I would be concerned. If it’s stay in school- no, of course I’m not concerned. But that’s not where the speech started, and it always seems that with this president and this administration- whatever you call them on, there was a reason to call them on.
BROWN: So- so, did you- just wait. Let me stay with- did you see a draft of the speech? I mean- or is this just- it’s getting circulated on Republican blogs? I mean, why- I don’t know, I just- I want to get to the bottom of this, honestly, because it just- it seemed crazy to me.
MATALIN: Well, I was so busy getting my kids back in school. What I thought I had read over the holidays was that the original assignment was going to be, how can I help- to write an essay on how I can help President Obama. So- but, look, Campbell, let’s take a step back, because I hear what you’re saying. I wish that the party apparatus was as effective as to be able to do what has happened over the summer, which is to push back on the kind of health care that Americans don’t want. There’s only 20 percent of Americans who want what Obama was selling, which was universal health care run by the government. They’ve wanted that for 60 years. They’re not going to get it, and it’s not Republicans who pushed back on that.
Just days earlier on the September 4 edition of Brown’s program (when anchor John Roberts was filling in for his colleague), Martin himself used the same “insane” term to attack conservative critics of the proposed speech curriculum