ABC's Ashleigh Banfield Frets Over War of Words Between Clinton and 'Right-wing Polemics'

Good Morning America's Ashleigh Banfield on Sunday spun Bill Clinton's continuing attack on talk radio as a "war of words" between the ex-President and the "right-wing polemics [sic]." The former MSNBC host joined ABC in 2009 after a bitter departure from that cable network. [Audio available here.] 

On Sunday, Banfield provided no ideological description for Clinton. Yet, regarding Rush Limbaugh and other conservative voices, she complained, "And [Clinton] has really entered- I like to call it cable chaos- the war of words over the right-wing polemics [sic], with regard to the language that's been used lately, especially leading up to this anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing."

(Presumably, Banfield meant polemicists and not polemics.) The MRC's Brent Baker, in an March 26, 2004 CyberAlert, recounted some of Banfield's more blatant examples of liberal bias:

Ashleigh and Al’s First Date?

"The last time I was this excited about a two-minute warning for a telephone call was when I was waiting for my prom date to call and invite me to the prom -- and I’m not going to tell you how many years ago that was."

-- MSNBC anchor Ashleigh Banfield to reporter Norah O’Donnell just before a November 27, 2000 photo-op public conference call amongst Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Dick Gephardt and Tom Daschle.

Inviting Jesse Reveals "Savvy"

"It is interesting that the Taliban would be so media savvy about the Reverend’s position in a lot of national and international affairs. Thinking back to obviously 1999, his visit to Belgrade and the way he was able to work his way into the situation with those three trapped soldiers who were caught crossing over the Macedonian border. For a government that essentially doesn’t allow television or media in the entire country, it is interesting that they are as media savvy as they are to make that kind of a contact with someone like Jesse Jackson."

-- MSNBC reporter Ashleigh Banfield on her network’s simulcast of Imus in the Morning on September 28, 2001 referring to reports, later denied, that Taliban leaders had asked Reverend Jackson to visit Afghanistan.

Banfield also ran into trouble at MSNBC after she criticized journalistic coverage of the Iraq war in an April 2003 speech:

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD: What didn't you see? You didn't see where those bullets landed. You didn't see what happened when the mortar landed. A puff of smoke is not what a mortar looks like when it explodes, believe me. There are horrors that were completely left out of this war. So was this journalism or was this coverage-? There is a grand difference between journalism and coverage, and getting access does not mean you're getting the story, it just means you're getting one more arm or leg of the story. And that's what we got, and it was a glorious, wonderful picture that had a lot of people watching and a lot of advertisers excited about cable news. During the same address, she also attacked Fox News.

The entire speech can be found here.

A partial transcript of the April 18 segment, which aired at 8:11am EDT, follows:

BANFIELD: Let me take a right turn, because I know you have your big exclusive interview with former President Clinton. And he has really entered- I like to call it cable chaos- the war of words over the right-wing polemics, with regard to the language that's been used lately, especially leading up to this anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. What did he say towards the Rush Limbaugh battle he's been engaged in?

JAKE TAPPER: Well, what happened is on Friday, he said people in positions of responsibility need to be careful with the words they choose, because they're- you're speaking not only to the serious but delirious. And words and actions have consequences. Rush Limbaugh said if there are any acts of violence they are therefore on President Clinton's shoulders. And I asked President Clinton about that.

BILL CLINTON: Doesn't make any sense. The only point I try to make we ought to have a lot of political dissent, a lot of political argument. Nobody is right all of the time. But, we also have to take responsibility of the possible consequences of what we say.

TAPPER: And President Clinton did say- he did cite somebody on the left, a member of the labor union, a teacher's union that criticized- made a joke about how Republican governor should die. So, he said he's not limiting his criticism to the right, Ashleigh.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org