On Monday's CNN This Morning, the hosts griped about Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy attacking radical leftists for their insistence that all black and brown people must be leftists.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D.-Mass.), a member of "The Squad," declared in a meeting in 2019 that Democrats "don't need any more brown faces that don't want to be a brown voice" or "any more black faces that don't want to be a black voice." In a campaign event in Iowa on Friday, Ramaswamy attacked her and "antiracist" radical Ibram X. Kendi as "modern grand wizards of the modern KKK."
After CNN This Morning co-host Phil Mattingly introduced the segment, they showed Ramaswamy in Iowa and then added a clip of CNN host Dana Bash confronting Ramaswamy about his comments from Sunday's State of the Union show. Fill-in co-host Sara Sidner began the discussion by calling the GOP candidate's words "trash" and asked what he was trying to accomplish.
This is hard to listen to because the Klan -- flogging, mutilating, killing, hanging -- and he's saying that the first black congresswoman from Massachusetts is the same as the KKK. What -- who -- is he trying to just get attention? Or is he trying to get voters using this kind of trash?
CNN political analyst John Avlon began his response: "Both. Primarily attention. But the idea that reverse racism is the real racism is something that presumably plays to the base." The he added it's "between idiotic and historically awful."
The KKK is a terrorist organization -- it was a terrorist organization at its inception when former Confederate veterans got together in December of 1865 and used violence and voter intimidation to try to push back the gains that were on paper in the Constitution. That comparison is somewhere between idiotic and just historically awful.
It's true that the KKK was known for violence. Perhaps Ramaswamy could have compared Pressley and Kendi to segregationist Democrats like George Wallace or Orval Faubus. Meanwhile, CNN had no comment when NBC News compared Ramaswamy's immigration rhetoric to....neo-Nazis.
In the last several years, a number of CNN hosts have routinely promoted this type of hyperbole coming from liberals who compared Republicans to Nazis, Adolf Hitler, the KKK or terrorists in general. Avlon himself even suggested that former Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan sounded like Hitler.
In August 2016, after Mexican President Nieto Pena compared Donald Trump's rhetoric to Hitler, CNN host Alisyn Camerota asked vice presidential nominee Mike Pence if Trump should apologize [!] for provoking the comparison. And, earlier in the year, after ex-President Vicente Fox also made a Hitler comparison, Erin Burnett asked if he "has a point."
Anderson Cooper entertained Nazi Germany comparisons from libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson and liberal singer Linda Ronstadt as did Don Lemon, from liberal activist Patti Davis and liberal columnist Frank Rich. Brianna Keilar allowed it from Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-SC). After the NRA were called a "terrorist organization" by liberal activists, Alisyn Camerota and Dave Briggs cheered on the incendiary rhetoric, and Carol Costello also promoted such views.
And, as he recalled the 1992 Republican National Convention on New Day in September 2019, Avlon made a crack about Pat Buchanan's speech "sounding better in the original German."
This hypocritical segment on CNN This Morning was sponsored in part by Subway. Their contact information is linked.
CNN This Morning
August 28, 2023
6:40 a.m. Eastern
PHIL MATTINGLY: Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy is defending comments he made last week comparing a black lawmaker to the Ku Klux Klan. At a campaign stop in Iowa on Friday, the GOP hopeful said this about Democrat and black Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley.
VIVEK RAMASWAMY: Ayanna Presley -- she's in the Congress today -- she's a member of the Squad. Her words, not mine. "We don't want any more black faces that don't want to be a black voice -- we don't want any more brown faces that don't want to be a brown voice." Literally word for word -- I'm not putting any words in anybody's mouth.
Ibram Kendi wrote the book, How to Be an Anti-Racist. I wrote Woke Inc. -- it was a pretty successful book. His sold more copies than mine. Here's what it says, opening lines: "The remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination."
So the other side will gaslight you when you say this stuff -- they'll say, "Oh, you're just making that critical race theory stuff up." No, no, these aren't my words. These are the words of the modern grand wizards of the modern KKK.
MATTINGLY: Now, when challenged by CNN's Dana Bash yesterday, Ramaswamy doubled down.
RAMASWAMY (from the Sunday, August 27, State of the Union on CNN): I think it is the same spirit to say that I can look at you and, based just on your skin color, that I know something about the content of your character -- that I know something about the content of the viewpoints you're allowed to express -- for Ayanna Pressley to tell me that because of my skin color, that I can't express my views. That is wrong. It is divisive. It is driving hate in this country.
SARA SIDNER; She fact-checked him, by the way, there, and deserves credit for that. John Avlon and Maura Gillespie are back with us. Thank you so much for sticking around. This is hard to listen to because the Klan -- flogging, mutilating, killing, hanging -- and he's saying that the first black congresswoman from Massachusetts is the same as the KKK. What -- who -- is he trying to just get attention? Or is he trying to get voters using this kind of trash?
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Both. Primarily attention. But the idea that reverse racism is the real racism is something that presumably plays to the base. And, look, you got to separate this out, right? Your point -- the point you're making about any comparison to the KKK, let alone to a black female congressman. The KKK is a terrorist organization -- it was a terrorist organization at its inception when former Confederate veterans got together in December of 1865 and used violence and voter intimidation to try to push back the gains that were on paper in the Constitution. That comparison is somewhere between idiotic and just historically awful.
Now, you can have a good conversation about, look, identity politics, about the idea that a person's political beliefs should follow their group identity. And that's a good debate to have not just in Republican primaries but everywhere. You want to talk about Ibram Kendi and really dig into whether anti-racism actually helps the country heal and move forward. Let's have that debate. But once you start throwing the hand grenades of the comparison to the KKK, particularly to a black female congresswoman, it's beyond insulting, and the debate shuts down.
MATTINGLY: So, Maura, John kind of hints at a key point here. The debate on the issue itself or the debate just generally is a totally fine debate to have, and certainly a debate that I think has moved to the forefront over the course of the last five, six, seven years, no question about it. But then listen to Ramaswamy, also in Iowa, say this.
RAMASWAMY (in front of an audience): I've never once encountered that yet. I'm sure the -- I'm sure the bogeyman white supremacist exists somewhere in America -- I've just never met him. Never seen one. Never met one in my life, right? Maybe I'll meet a -- maybe I'll meet a unicorn sooner. And maybe those exist, too.
MATTINGLY: Maura, I think my question is less -- look, this is performative, and it's intentional, and he's doing it for a reason the same way he was talking about his book and how well it had done in the midst of doing all this. But you've been a Republican staffer -- you've been inside a Republican conference as that Republican conference has evolved quite a bit over the course of the last several years on issues like this, in particular, and I think strategies -- hyperbolic strategies like this. Why? What's the play here when you hear something like this?
MAURA GILLESPIE, EX-CHIEF-OF-STAFF OF CONGRESSMAN ADAM KINZINGER: He's following the Trump playbook to a tee. He's watched how far Trump pushed his boundaries, saying that he could stand on, you know, streets in New York and shoot someone and still he would have his loyal fanbase. Ramaswamy has seen that and is testing his own boundaries -- seeing how far he can take it -- because, let's be honest, he's put $15 million of his own money -- maybe even more -- into his campaign.
And so now he's looking for that free earned media, and he's getting it by saying inflammatory things and really trying to appeal to Trump voters. But what they should really be asking is: If you, Vivek, think that Trump is the greatest President of our time or on Earth or whatever he said at the debate, then why are you running? Why are you running against him? What he's really doing here is just trying to get attention, as John pointed out, and he can push the boundaries because Trump can.
MATTINGLY: All right, Maura, John, there's a lot more to dig into on all of this, including Ramaswamy running against the guy who's the greatest President, in his words, in history. And the attention-getting mechanisms he utilizes. Maura, John, thanks so much, guys.