Wolf Blitzer will serve as the host of tonight’s “Tea Party debate” on CNN, co-sponsored by the Tea Party Express. But while Blitzer’s show plans to present questioners from the Tea Party, it’s likely Blitzer will "balance" that by pressing Republicans from the left, just as NBC’s Brian Williams did last week on MSNBC.
For example, four years ago, at the June 5, 2007 presidential debate, Blitzer asked Rep. Duncan Hunter why the party couldn’t be more liberal like movie-star governors: “Arnold Schwarzenegger, your Governor in California, has become very popular out there by bringing in independents and moderates, and trying to forge a consensus among Republicans and Democrats in your state. Shouldn’t the GOP nationally be following that Arnold Schwarzenegger example in California?” Blitzer also implied the sponsors of this CNN debate might be racists:
Anchor Wolf Blitzer: “Within the [tea party] movement you’re going to find individuals outraged over taxes, health reform, gun control and more. But, most disturbing, a very small but vocal minority, they’re targeting President Obama’s race....”
Reporter Elaine Quijano: “Within the larger tea party movement that’s gained steam across the country, a small but passionate minority is also voicing what some see as racist rhetoric....[Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence] Page says the vehement racial resistance that’s emerged is another sign any notion of a post-racial society after Barack Obama’s election was wishful thinking.”
— CNN’s The Situation Room, September 14, 2009. The onscreen graphic asserted: “Racial Tinge to Tea Movement.”
From our Notable Quotable files, there are other quotes where Blitzer expresses his sensitivity to Obama’s race being abused by conservatives:
CNN's Wolf Blitzer: "There's still plenty of racism out there, you know. There are all these incidents you see of racial hatred....How worried are you - and you're obviously sympathetic to the Republicans - that if Barack Obama gets the Democratic presidential nomination, that there could be elements of racism that come up from the other side?"
Conservative radio host Larry Elder: "I'm sure there are people who won't vote for him because he's black. I'm sure there are people who are voting for him because he's black."
Blitzer: "No, I'm talking about the Willie Horton kind of commercials, the ads that could be used against, potentially against, Barack Obama."
- Exchange on CNN's Situation Room, February 12, 2008.
"Tonight, here in the Election Center: a highly controversial warning directly from Barack Obama’s lips. He bluntly says Republicans will try to make an issue of his race. We have the audio tape....At a fundraiser today in Florida, Senator Barack Obama warned his supporters that the Republicans are going to try to play the race card against him in an effort to simply scare voters."
— Wolf Blitzer beginning CNN’s Election Center, June 20, 2008.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer: "We're getting flooded with e-mail already....People are already complaining that you're calling the United States a stupid country. I'm giving you a chance to clarify."
HBO's Bill Maher: "I don't need to clarify. It is."
Blitzer: "Well, tell me why you think the United States is a stupid country."
Maher: "Because Sarah Palin could be President. Please, do I need to expand on that anymore?...This country just gets dumber and dumber by the day, and I don't think I have time on your show to list all the reasons."
Blitzer: "But this country did elect Barack Obama President of the United States."
- Exchange on CNN's The Situation Room, July 27, 2009.
Perhaps people should compare Blitzer's toughness on Republicans to Obama's last interview with President Obama on August 16. Blitzer did ask like Matt Lauer about how if the job picture doesn't clear up, he could be a one-termer.
But he also felt Obama's pain: "Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas, Republican presidential candidate now, says the men and women of the United States military want someone who's worn the uniform. He says he served in the Air Force. Do you see a comment like that, that he makes referring to you, as disrespectful to the commander in chief?"
Then he added: "Mitt Romney says corporations are people. Does he have a point?"
There was this predictable question from the left: "I was in North Korea last December. And every time I raised the issue of hunger in North Korea, which is a huge problem, starvation, the North Korean handlers would say to me, well, what about hunger in America? One out of seven Americans, including a lot of children, are hungry, they would say. And in fact, last week 46 million Americans now rely on food stamps, really, to survive. What does that say about the wealthiest country in the world, that 46 million Americans rely on food stamps in order to put food on the table?"
Then Blitzer asked Barack if radicals will attack over "your killing bin Laden," as if he strangled him with his bare hands (a la Alec Baldwin's fantasies):
I've covered the Middle East for a long time. I've covered terrorism for a long time. And I have to tell you, I'm worried that on the 10th anniversary or approaching the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Al Qaeda, or what's left of Al Qaeda or their supporters will try to do something to seek revenge for your killing bin Laden. How worried should we be about that? How worried are you about that?\
For the record, Obama boasted in reply: "There may be a little extra vigilance during 9/11. On the other hand, keep in mind the extraordinary progress we've made over the last couple years in degrading Al Qaeda's capabilities. They are a much weaker organization with much less capability than they had just two or three years ago."
Blitzer concluded with this softball: "We're out of time. But a quick question. If you're reelected -- the last time you were elected, you got Sasha and Malia a cute little puppy, Bo. What are you going to get them the next time if you're re-elected?" Obama joked: "When I'm reelected what I'll be getting them is a continuation of Secret Service, so that when boys want to start dating them, they're going to be surrounded by men with guns. That's their gift."
Because, as you might recall, he doesn't want his daughters to be "punished with a baby."