It’s hardly surprising that MSNBC host and former DNC communications director Karen Finney took issue with Reince Priebus’ campaign against the liberal media on Saturday’s Disrupt. Finney mocked “Reince’s rage” and suggested that the Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman is “full of you know what.”
What is surprising is that Finney’s searing critique came despite the fact that she and former Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Howard Dean did almost the same thing to Fox News back in 2007.
In the lead-up to the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, Dean and Finney refused to sanction a Democratic primary debate to be co-hosted by Fox News and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). The New York Times called the move a “shun” of Fox, while Politico observed that the DNC’s refusal was part of “an increasingly unified Democratic effort to marginalize the network.” I suppose to Finney, these efforts are only “hollow” when Republicans make them:
[Sarcastically:] Ooh, penalties! C’mon Reince, what penalties? Leading up to the 2012 presidential election, we saw 27 Republican primary debates – seven of which were not sanctioned by the RNC. But none of the candidates who participated in them were penalized for doing so. How could they be? The fact is these are hollow threats by an ultimately powerless chairman.
Finney didn’t make it entirely clear why she thought Priebus was a “powerless chairman,” but no doubt she would bring on a non-partisan, level-headed voice to explain, right? Wrong:
With me now is someone who knows a thing or two about the power of the party boss, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. Governor, thanks so much for being with me.
Of course, Dean – he of the infamous “Dean scream” – was Finney’s boss at the DNC, so it should come as no surprise that the rest of the segment amounted to no more than a vast liberal echo chamber. Dean even alluded to the DNC’s efforts to “shun” Fox News in 2007:
Yeah, I mean, we tried to do this. We had some success. What we did was very, very different.
Now, Dean is right on some counts. What the DNC did was “different,” in a sense, because their campaign against Fox News was not as public as Priebus’ current campaign against CNN and NBC. And they did have “some success." All of the Democratic candidates – including John Edwards, who had participated in Fox debates four years earlier – joined the anti-Fox boycott. But the DNC’s success undercuts Finney’s own argument, that Priebus’ efforts are “powerless” and outrageous.
And just like Finney’s efforts to shun Fox News failed in 2007, her anti-GOP tirade seems unlikely to affect Preibus’ campaign against the liberal media. I have to say, Finney’s efforts to “disrupt” conservative voices don’t seem to be going too well.
See the full transcript below:
Disrupt with Karen Finney
August 10, 2013
4:29 p.m. Eastern
KAREN FINNEY [sarcastically emphasizing certain phrases, apparently to mock Priebus]: Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, issued that so-called bold ultimatum earlier this week. But here’s the thing about Reince’s rage. It is full of you know what. He sent two letters to the presidents of CNN and NBC Entertainment, calling on both networks to cancel their plans to produce biographical films about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And if they refuse to comply, Priebus threatens that the RNC will neither partner with the networks in 2016 primary debates, nor sanction any debates they sponsor. He also threatened penalties to any 2016 GOP contender who decides to participate in CNN- or NBC-sponsored debates.
[Sarcastically:] Ooh, penalties! C’mon Reince, what penalties? Leading up to the 2012 presidential election, we saw 27 Republican primary debates – seven of which were not sanctioned by the RNC. But none of the candidates who participated in them were penalized for doing so. How could they be? The fact is these are hollow threats by an ultimately powerless chairman. With me now is someone who knows a thing or two about the power of the party boss, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. Governor, thanks so much for being with me.
DEAN: You’re very welcome. It is hard to do this. And if it were so easy, they wouldn’t have had 27 debates and made themselves look like idiots in the last cycle. And they don’t want to do that again. But this is really – you can’t really tell the networks what to do. Not only because it’s a violation of First Amendment, although it doesn’t seem to bother the other side here. But because you can’t control you own candidates.
FINNEY: Of course!
DEAN: I mean, just try to imagine what would happen. Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that Rand Paul decided to do x, y, z, and the chairman didn’t like it, he’s going to do it anyway. And you’re going alienate all Rand Paul’s followers in the general election if he doesn’t get the nomination? I think not.
FINNEY: Exactly. Exactly. That was the thing, Governor, I have to tell you this week that I was just, sort of like, outraged by. That people were, sort of, taking him seriously when you and I both know there is nothing a party chairman can do to stop a candidate from free air time basically. For a network debate! I mean, that’s just not going to happen.
DEAN: Yeah, I mean, we tried to do this. We had some success. What we did was very, very different. It’s also governed in part by the budget. If you want to do a good job, it costs at least a million dollars – and usually more than that – to put on one of these debates. And frankly, the people who are putting on the debates called the tune. He doesn’t get to name the moderator ever.
FINNEY [laughing]: Of course!
DEAN: If somebody else is paying for the debate.