CNN's John King Interviews Hoffa Without Asking About 'Son of a B---hes' Remark

As NewsBusters previously reported, Teamsters president James Hoffa Jr. on Monday, at a Labor Day rally addressed by President Obama moments later, made some disgraceful comments about the Tea Party and his political rivals.

Later in the day, Hoffa was interviewed for six minutes by CNN's John King, and although the union leader's comments were played at the beginning of the segment and referred to in the onscreen chyron, King actually didn't ask his guest one single question about them (video follows with transcript and commentary):

 


JOHN KING, HOST: The president's Labor Day rally in Detroit today was billed as an official event, which means taxpayers, not the Obama re- election campaign will foot the bill. But it had all the trappings of a 2012 pep rally with an appeal to the turnout power of organized labor and something many union leaders and many liberal Democrats have been urging for a long time, stronger direct attacks from the president on Republican policies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: You say you're the party of tax cuts? Well then prove you'll fight just as hard for tax cuts for middle class families as you do for oil companies and the most affluent Americans. Show us what you've got. So when I hear some of these folks trying to take collective bargaining rights away, trying to pass so-called right to work laws for private sector workers, they really mean the right to work for less and less and less.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: But winning blue collar union support was an issue for candidate Obama back in 2008 and with high unemployment now looms as a major challenge for President Obama heading into the 2012 campaign. Among those trying to give the president a boost today was the Teamsters Union President James Hoffa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES P. HOFFA, TEAMSTERS PRESIDENT: Everybody here has got to vote. If we go back and we keep the eye on the prize, let's take these (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out and give America back to America where we belong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: President Hoffa with us from Detroit tonight. Mr. Hoffa, I want to begin with your assessment of the president's speech. You had a big crowd there. You had a pumped up president being more direct in his attack on the Republicans. You have criticized him in the past saying he needs to get out there and be more specific, get into the fight, not give airy speeches. Are you convinced now that the president gets the message and is prepared on the substance to give you more of what you want and on the politics to be tougher?

HOFFA: I think he's getting engaged now because he realizes what's at stake. You know, I think he learned a lesson with this debt ceiling battle that he went through that there really is no dealing with the Tea Party people. You can't be reasonable with people that are unreasonable. And I think he learned a lesson that now he's going to have to take them on because there is no middle ground.

There isn't any way that he can work this out or sit down and reason with them. And I think that he's learned a lesson. I think that's why he's sharpening what he's talking about and he (INAUDIBLE) start really getting ready for that speech that's going to happen on September 7th, which is going to be an important speech to outline how he's going to put America back to work.

KING: And so what should he do in that speech? There are some who say be bold even if you know the House Republicans will not pass what you're saying. There are others who say Mr. President, with so many Americans unemployed, maybe split the difference and get some of them help by proposing things the Republicans will support. Do you want him to give a speech that has in it proposals that maybe are more leaning towards Republicans to get them passed or would you prefer he be bold even if it means nothing gets done and we fight this out in the election.

HOFFA: He's got to be bold right now. I think the lines are getting drawn right now. We have these attacks from the Tea Party on him, on everybody else. You've got Mitch McConnell saying it's their job to beat him in '12. So I think he's pretty clear where we're going with this. I think he's got to be bold.

I think he's got to basically stake out a plan, a program that makes sense to the American people. He's the reasonable one to say here is a plan that will work and I'm willing to take this to Congress. If they turn it down, then he's going to say OK, this made sense. They don't want to do it. Now I'm taking it to the voters. I think that's where this is going to end up, because I don't see any middle ground working out between here and '12. KING: And if he takes it to the voters, one of the big questions is, do your rank and file members and those of other unions, do they support the president in high numbers or do they either stay home or do we have a Reagan Democrat moment? Do we have a lot of them supporting Republicans? The president seemed to have that in mind today when he recalled an appearance Labor Day many years ago by President Truman. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Americans that voted in some folks in the Congress who weren't very friendly to labor. And he pointed out that some working folks and even some union members voted these folks in. And now they were learning their lesson.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: In the 2010 midterms, Mr. Hoffa, Republicans had 37 percent of union households voted Republicans for Congress. That's about the same as the 2008 presidential election, 59 percent of union households voted for President Obama, 39 percent for Senator McCain. But you remember the final days of the 2008 campaign. I remember them well. Unions were spending a lot of time and a lot of money in the local union halls in the big states telling rank and file members vote for the president -- vote for then Senator Obama when they were reluctant to do so.

Some of them had supported Senator Clinton. Some of them, let's be honest, were hesitant because of the race issue. Are you confident heading into 2012 that your rank and file will support this Democratic president or will we see in places like Michigan what we saw in the Reagan days, blue collar Reagan Democrats helping the Republicans?

HOFFA: I think it's going to be different this time because of the attack on the -- you know on labor by the Tea Party. We had 100,000 people at a rally in Madison, Wisconsin. We had 50,000 people in Ohio. We collected a million signatures in Ohio. People realize what's going on, that they might have voted Republican a small group of organized labor. But I think people are aware now that this group is coming after them. You know when they start talking about, you know, getting rid of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, rolling back collective bargaining in major states, I think this has -- you know this has been the wake-up call that maybe labor needs.

And some of those people that voted Republican are now going to say, what a mistake I made because I didn't know they were going to take my job away. I didn't know they were going to take collective bargaining away. So I think it's a little bit different. That's the message that we're delivering to say hey, you saw what they did and you saw what they believe in. And you heard this debate in Washington with regard to the debt ceiling that they want to keep cutting and cutting and they start talking about entitlements and they start talking about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

And I asked them do you want to give those things up, and they say no. I said well make it clear. That's what this is about. It's not about these other airy issues. It's about what you -- how you live and what you expect of America. And I said that's the issue we've got to address and stay on that issue.

KING: You're in Detroit tonight. Among the Republican candidates for president is a son of Michigan whose father worked in the auto industry. He went on to become the governor of Massachusetts. I'm talking about Mitt Romney. He will outline his economic plan tomorrow in an essay that will appear in "USA Today" in the morning.

He takes after the president and he takes after organized labor. Listen, Mitt Romney says this. "Seeking to pay back political favors, President Obama has catered to the institutional interests of union bosses at the expense of both workers and businesses. I will fight against measures that deprive workers of basic rights such as the secret ballot." Do you view that, labor right there front and center in the Romney economic plan?

HOFFA: I think he's making a big mistake. You know his father was George Romney. You know, it's hard to imagine (INAUDIBLE) in coming from Detroit where we had successful loans to both Chrysler and General Motors that both companies have come back. They're paying the loans off. It's a success story. It's a success story here in Michigan. We have hiring going on.

We have new industries going on. And I got news for you. I can't believe that he's talking this way and I don't know who he's addressing, but it's not going to work in Michigan.

KING: James Hoffa is the president of the Teamsters Union -- Mr. Hoffa, thank you for your time on this Labor Day. We'll keep in touch as the campaign unfolds.

Exactly how could King spend six minutes with a man who earlier in the day called on the President of the United States to take his political rivals - aka "son of a b---ches" - "out" and not ask him one single question about it?

Consider all the attention former Alaska governor's "Don't retreat - reload" comments got after Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was shot in Tuucson back in January.

Yet Hoffa's remarks made roughly eight months later deserved not one question from King?

Not one?

Even the perilously liberal website Mediaite - which earlier in the day came to Hoffa's defense even suggesting his comments had been selectively edited - thought it absurd that King chose not to challenge his guest about the inflammatory nature of his remarks.

As for selective editing, the also perilously liberal website Talking Points Memo put that to rest Monday evening with a Hoffa interview of its own:

Hoffa said he'd say the exact same words all over again.

"I would because I believe it," he said. "They've declared war on us. We didn't declare war on them, they declared war on us. We're fighting back. The question is, who started the war?"

So much for all the liberal shills claiming Hoffa was selectively edited or taken out of context.

As for King, his stature as a so-called impartial "journalist" has significantly diminished as a result of this episode.

How anyone could do a six minute interview with a person that had made such a disgraceful comment earlier the same day without asking him anything about is almost impossible to believe.

Nice job, John!

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.