Contessa Brewer Rants: Is 'Attention Grabber' Michele Bachmann 'Ruining Chances for Bipartisanship?'

MSNBC's Contessa Brewer on Wednesday blamed Republicans for obstructionism, complaining about the "attention grabber" Michele Bachmann and her Tea Party response to the State of the Union.

Talking to Democratic strategist Mo Elleithee, she derided, "Mo, is Michelle Bachmann ruining the chances for bipartisanship?" Before playing a clip of Bachmann stating her opposition to excess spending, Brewer snapped, "Here she is, the attention grabber, demanding that lawmakers are towing the line."

(Of course the network that employs Brewer, MSNBC, is not known for bipartisanship when it comes to the anchors they hire.) Later, she derided even discussing issues "we have already talked about ad nauseam before the votes happened." She added, "Health care reform, stimulus. I mean, is there a point where we move on and look at the future?"

[See video below. MP3 audio here.]
 

Finally, she misidentified J.P. Freire, the conservative editor of the Washington Examiner's commentary section, as a "Republican strategist. A confused Freire replied, "Uh, hi. Just to clarify, I'm not a Republican strategist, I just work for the Washington Examiner. My bosses would be ticked."

Brewer shot back, "It's good to know that. Do you have Republican leanings? I guess we should just lay it all out on the table."

Yet, back in July of 2010, when Brewer was lobbying for gay rights on-air in the same month she was appearing at a fundraiser to end Don't Ask, Don't tell, she didn't "lay it all out on the table" and inform her audience.

A transcript of the January 26 segment, which aired at 12:50pm EST, follows:


CONTESSA BREWER: The president's in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, shaking hands at Orion energy. He just told the crowd there that making products is how America wins in the future. And, boy does he know his audience there in Wisconsin. Quoting the Green Bay Packers legend Vince Lombardi saying there's no room for second place. And, there, he's just wrapping up. Really this is just a push to sell what he said in the State of the Union last night to the states themselves. He's using the bipartisan seat swap during the State of the Union to call for more cross party cooperation.

BARACK OBAMA: What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow.

BREWER: Mo Elleithee is a Democratic strategist. He served as spokesperson for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and J. P. Freire a Republican strategist and an associate editor of commentary for the Washington Examiner. It's good to see both of you today.

J.P. FREIRE (Assoc. Editor, The Washington Examiner): [Confused] Uh, hi. Just to clarify, I'm not a Republican strategist, I just work for the Washington Examiner. My bosses would be ticked.

BREWER: It's good to know that. Do you have Republican leanings? I guess we should just lay it all out on the table.

FREIRE: That's fine. That's fine. We'll do that.

BREWER: Do you think, J.P., that lawmakers at this point have the intestinal fortitude to cooperate, to compromise, to find common ground?

FREIRE: I think that Republicans are more than willing to find common ground. The question is, you know, what kind of cuts are we looking at? I mean, is the President actually going to come forward and actually recommend cuts? I was just looking at a hearing on the hill where they were discussing regulation and how they were going to do away with burdensome regulation, but the lines from Democrats kept on being something along the lines of "The reason we have regulations is that it protects people" and they didn't seem to be willing to want to give an inch on the issue.

BREWER: What do you think, Mo? I mean, when it comes election time, it doesn't seem politically to pay to be seen as the person reaching across the aisle, especially when it comes to the primaries, when you're trying to appeal to the more extreme sides of your party, is there the guts to move forward and find common ground?

MO ELLEITHEE: Well, I think we're definitely seeing it from the White House. And it's not always making him- not every move he's making right now is popular among some of his own base, but we're definitely seeing it from the White House. I think the point you raise about the primaries is going to be interesting for Republicans. We saw someone like Michele Bachmann last night as a voice for the Tea Party taking a very strident, a very combative tone.

BREWER: Yeah, in fact, let me- we have- I mean, here she is, the attention grabber, demanding that lawmakers are towing the line. Let me play Michele Bachmann in her Tea Party response to the State of the Union.

MICHELE BACHMANN: After a $700 billion bailout, the trillion dollar stimulus and the massive budget bill with over 9,000 earmarks, many of you implored Washington to please stop spending money that we don't have. But instead of cutting, we saw an unprecedented explosion of government spending and debt. It was unlike anything we have ever seen before in the history of the country.

BREWER: Mo, is Michelle Bachmann ruining the chances for bipartisanship?

ELLEITHEE: I don't know that I would say that she's ruining it. To your earlier question, i think it actually behooves candidates on both sides of the aisle to try to work together because that's one of the clearest messages that came out of the 2010 elections. But I don't think Michelle Bachmann's tone, I don't think her message last night, it was a speech that assigned a lot of blame, it took no responsibility and it offered no solution. That may play well with a certain part of her base, the tea party's faction-

FREIRE: But look at President Obama's speech. Look at President Obama's speech. When he's offering solutions, what he's talking about is repeating the same things that he did. He's defending the stimulus, even though that has been a huge waste of money that was found to not create any real jobs.

BREWER: What are you talking- Wait, wait, wait, J.P. We have seen a real improvement in the unemployment rate, jobs have been created, have they been created at the rate that the President laid out in his last State of the Union? No, he's missing about 400,000 jobs. That's still more than a million jobs have been created.

FREIRE: Well, I mean, do we want to give credit to the stimulus or do we want to say that the stimulus might have prevented more jobs from being created? Remember, when the President introduced the stimulus, he said that it would help the employment rate go below eight percent. Now where are we? It looks like it hasn't helped one bit. And it looks like things are continuing to get worse. Now, we may be actually turning a corner, but President Obama's speech-

BREWER: I don't know. Here's the thing- It's so interesting when we are relitigating some of the issue that we have already talked about ad nauseam before the votes happened.

FREIRE: He brought it up.

BREWER: Health care reform, stimulus. I mean, is there a point where we move on and look at the future?

FREIRE: Well, the problem with looking at the future is that these things are part of the future. When we look at how much Obamacare is going to cost and he's talking about how this bill is going to help Americans, he's then also talking about how we need to help small businesses. Well, small businesses are negatively impacted by the 1099 provision.

BREWER: Mo, I've got about 20 seconds. Let me let you get the last word here.

ELLEITHEE: Yeah, and I think moving forward, you're absolutely right, Contessa. I think the President's call that we begin now with those areas that we can actually agree on as opposed to leading with those issues that we disagree on was a poignant call. Rather than focus on social issues like abortion, like the Republicans did as their second bill.

BREWER: Yeah. Right. Right.

ELLEITHEE: Let's focus on working together.

— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.

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