When a senior editor from Newsweek goes on MSNBC to discuss conservatives who protest the massive tax and spend agenda of the Obama Administration, why shouldn't he join in the fun of disparaging them with juvenile sexual innuendo? After all, he's among friends and fellow travelers.
Gross had appeared on MSNBC's "Countdown," on April 10 and told guest host David Shuster, "I think when it comes to tea bagging, the president should probably ignore this ... to get bogged down with what seems to be a fringe group of people throwing consumer products into the lakes and rivers of this nation, ah, doesn't seem to be worthy of his attention."
Allman called Gross on his statement immediately. "It disturbs me, your characterization of tea party individuals who you must know are more than a fringe group and are in fact your fellow Americans who seem to have an issue probably different than yours with your government," Allman said.
"What surprised me though," he continued, "I mean, come on, you're an author, you've reached high levels of Newsweek Magazine, a prestigious slick in the United States of America, and you resort to calling your fellow Americans who have an issue with their government ‘tea baggers.'"
Gross said that there were different meanings to the term and he didn't know which one he and Shuster were using. Allman wasn't buying it, so Gross changed tack, saying he wasn't responsible for what Shuster said and, anyway, the protest organizers themselves used the term.
"Second of all, when you look at the e-mails and promotional literature, you see people saying, using ‘tea bag' as a verb - "tea bag Obama,' ‘tea bag Congress.' ... these are the people who are organizing this that are saying that ..."
However, Allman brought on Dana Loesch a tea party organizer "on a national level who's been in this from the get-go."
"I have never seen an e-mail cross my inbox that refers to what we're doing in that manner." Loesch then confronted Gross on his assertion that many of the tea parties are "fraudulent" and are not in fact grass roots-inspired but have been coordinated and encouraged by the "Republican and conservative establishment."
"In fact, here in St, Louis and in other cities," she said, "we're telling the politicians to stay away from the events."
When asked, Gross refused to tell Allman who he voted for, citing Gross "company policy."
The segment ended with this exchange:
ALLMAN: "Why is it company policy?" Allman pressed. "Is it because your journalists?"
ALLMAN: "Ok, so if you're a journalist and not a pundit, why would you go on David Shuster's show and refer to tea party people like this?" Allman said. "You call them tea baggers and you demean them and you claim that it's all part of ah, Lipton's this and Lipton's that. You seem to, as a journalist, have quite an opinion."
GROSS: "I'm supposed to have an opinion about all kinds of things. It's part of my job," Gross said.
ALLMAN: "But you can't say who you voted for?"
GROSS; "I'm not involved in partisan politics."
ALLMAN: "So Newsweek's policy is that you can go on MSNBC and accuse your fellow Americans of fraud and call them ‘tea baggers' and all kinds of pornographic ah, discussions, ah, ways of characterizing them but Newsweek won't allow you to say who you voted for?"
GROSS: "If that's how you want to interpret it, I guess I can't quibble with that. We can all reach our own conclusions."ALLMAN: "That's one of the reasons why I cancelled my subscription to Newsweek."