Diane Dishes But Can't Take: Sawyer Accuses Larry Elder of 'Attacking' Her

Touchy, touchy! Diane Sawyer is in the business of dishing out tough questions and challenging people's answers. But when a guest on today's "Good Morning America" politely corrected her on a First Amendment matter, the GMA host was quick to accuse him of "attacking" her.

Los Angeles-based radio talk show host Larry Elder was Diane's guest, in to discuss the Imus matter. Sawyer introduced him as a "conservative radio host" though on his own site Elder describes himself as a "libertarian" and "a blend of fiscal conservative and social liberal." Of course we all know how many times the MSM has described Al Sharpton as a "liberal" in the course of his innumerable appearances over the last week or so: that would be precisely zero, at last count.

Elder opined that Imus' punishment did not fit the crime. Imus' comment was offensive, sexist and racist, said Elder, "but he apologized, apologized again, did the obligatory beatdown tour à la Michael Richards by appearing on the Al Sharpton show, and as far as I'm concerned, that should have been enough. In the grand department store of life, Don Imus operates in the toy section and I think that those remarks should have been taken with some perspective, but they weren't."

To her credit, Sawyer then raised the issue of rap lyrics, displaying some on-screen with blanked-out words, their messages more vile than anything Imus had said.

SAWYER [wrapping up]: Free speech issues abound in all of this.

ELDER [politely correcting her]: Diane, I do want to take issue with the term 'free speech.' This has nothing to do with free speech. Free speech has to do with the government suppressing political speech. This has to do with a private employer, CBS, determining for all sorts of reasons that Don Imus ought to go. That's just the way things go. That's just free enterprise. It has nothing to do with free speech."

SAWYER: Well, free speech enables you to end this interview by attacking me! Thank you very much.

ELDER: I didn't attack you Diane, I was just simply clarifying something.

SAWYER: Alright, Larry, good to talk to you this morning.
There were big smiles on both sides, but one sensed that Sawyer's feelings had indeed been hurt, and that Elder was trying to recover from what he feared might have been a GMA-career ending moment.

Lessons learned: the MSM is quick to identify people as "conservative" even if they don't see themselves that way, but is loath to label liberals. And the heavy hitters of the MSM can dish it out, but aren't nearly so good when it comes to taking it.

Contact Mark at mark@gunhill.net

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.