On Tuesday's New Day show, as John Avlon recited a piece on the history of Presidents facing opponents within their own party, the CNN political analyst took a gratuitous cheap shot at Pat Buchanan's 1992 Republican convention speech by vaguely likening him to Adolf Hitler. The crack had nothing to do with the overall point of the segment.
But, even though any reference to Ted Kennedy nearly defeating President Jimmy Carter in 1980 could easily put in mind the Chappaquiddick incident from a decade earlier, Avlon made no crack about then-Senator Kennedy killing a woman in a car accident while driving drunk. and getting away with it, or the willingness of Democrats to still vote for him, which could just as easily have been worked into the segment.
Co-hosts Alisyn Camerota and John Berman set up the "Reality Check" segment by recalling that, in several states, Republicans are refusing to hold primaries to give several candidates a chance to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020.
Berman began: "Republicans canceling state primaries left and right all to smooth the road to the nomination for President Trump. the President says, 'Nothing to see here,' and 'Parties do this for incumbent Presidents all the time.'"
Camerota then added: "But is that really true? John Avlon knows, and he has our 'Reality Check' this morning."
Avlon began by recalling that Republican parties in five states have taken steps to make it harder for Republican candidates Bill Weld, Mark Sanford and Joe Walsh to compete against President Trump.
He then recounted the history of credible challengers running against Presidents of their own party, beginning with Ronald Reagan nearly beating President Gerald Ford in 1976. Avlon then got to Kennedy and Carter as he continued: "Four years later, President Carter faced his own primary challenge. Again, the fight went to the convention. Senator Ted Kennedy conceding defeat in a famous speech."
Then came an archival clip of Senator Kennedy's speech from C-SPAN: "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."
Avlon moved on to the 1992 presidential election: "And in 1992, George H.W. Bush faced a primary challenge from former Reagan staffer and CNN host Pat Buchanan. Buchanan ran a conservative populist campaign -- he won 40 percent in New Hampshire."
The CNN analyst then inserted his Nazi swipe at Buchanan as he added: "Not enough to win overall, but enough to continue his campaign, getting almost three million primary votes and scoring a primetime speech at the convention, which columnist Molly Ivins memorably criticized as 'probably sounding better in the original German.'"
Avlon finished up by recalling that other Presidents did not have to face primaries because they lacked credible challengers, and suggested that Trump's challengers are credible enough to be allowed to compete.