When Congressman Mike Johnson (R-LA) was nominated and subsequently confirmed as Speaker of the House, the race was on for Democrats and the media to cook up justifications for hating him. After a few hours of diligent googling, the media settled on their narrative: Mike Johnson is a far-right Christian extremist who wants to turn America into a fascistic theocracy.
It took them longer than usual, because many on the left did not appear to know who Mike Johnson was. The Democrats from the House Judiciary Committee even claimed that Johnson — their own colleague — was a member of the Freedom Caucus (he’s not). Meanwhile, television personalities like MSNBC’s Joy Reid boasted that they’d never even heard of the man before last Tuesday.
Amid the potpourri of complaints that Johnson was “far right,” “ultraconservative,” “extreme MAGA,” and other vapid media synonyms for “bad guy,” some journalists got pretty creative with their smears. Here’s a compilation documenting some of their dumbest takes:
CNN’s Congressional gnat Manu Raju asserted no less than four times in the course of as many hours on Tuesday that Johnson was well outside the political mainstream: “He has taken positions that are much further to the right.”
On October 26, Reid praised the hysterical insight of The Daily Beast’s David Rothkopf on her show The ReidOut: “Johnson is more dangerous than Donald Trump, because Johnson actually wants to make America into a Christian theocracy.”
Washington Post blogger and MSNBC host Jonathan Capehart asserted repeatedly last week that Johnson was “an extreme, far right religious ideologue.” On the October 26 edition of The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Capehart conjectured:
Republicans unanimously coalesced behind Speaker Johnson. Does this signal that he and his extreme views represent the Republican Party?
Everyone knew this kind of reaction was coming, because the media follow this same script every time Republicans select a leader. Either a conservative is nominated, and the journalists shriek that fascism has finally arrived, or Republicans pick a squish whom the media disingenuously laud for his Respectability and Bipartisanship™.