Following President Biden’s speech on voting that was full of incendiary rhetoric, CNN decided Biden hadn’t gone far enough on Tuesday, accusing him of having brought “a butter knife to a fight against a nuclear bomb,” even though he offered “a remarkably important message” that equated his adversaries to worse than Confederates where, if you support voter security measures, you endorse “the Big Lie” about the 2020 election.
Weekday afternoon CNN Newsroom co-host Alisyn Camerota spoke first after the speech ended, gushing over Biden’s “very passionate speech about what he calls ‘the most serious test to our democracy since the Civil War’” in the form of “restrictive voting laws.”
After she added that Biden provided “his most...fulsome defense of voting rights,” chief political correspondent Dana Bash followed with the first set of lobs from the left.
Bash initially credited Biden in that one couldn’t “imagine a stronger, more robust speech,” but quickly soured by lamenting that Biden’s challenge will be to engage “with people who he said, have you no shame,” and argued that those who support voter integrity measures “are believing and peddling in the Big Lie.”
She then made the warhead comparison:
Unless the President is going to go another step and going to say we need to actually change rules in the United States Senate to get this done so the federal government can have more of an impact, what he basically was doing was taking kind of a butter knife to a fight against a nuclear bomb and that is what the pressure is going to continue to be on the President to convince some of those moderate Democrats...that this is the one issue that is important to work around the filibuster on.
Co-host Victor Blackwell picked up on that narrative, remarking that Biden didn’t invoke the filibuster or call out Democrats who refuse to change the Senate rules, which set up Inside Politics host John King to say it came off “inconsistent” and akin to a “paradox” as Biden also all but admitted the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act were doomed.
King later added: “[T]here will be great praise for the passion and the anger in the President's speech. Praise for the promise to continue this fight. But there will be disappointment among those who count votes in Washington knowing that, unless he's willing to change his own mind and change minds in the Senate, you will not get that vote[.]”
Even though he’s a political commentator, Bakari Sellers echoed the so-called journalists. Sellers said “[t]he oratory was brilliant” and “[t]he emotion was palpable,” but “he didn’t mention the filibuster” or Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) or Krysten Sinema (D-AZ), so it’s left his supporters wanting more as the GOP “continue[s] to steamroll and rip apart what we fought for and many people died for[.]”
Chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins echoed administration talking points while Camerota took a shot at her former employer, Fox News (click “expand”):
COLLINS: I do think one part of the strategy here today was not just to talk about passing legislation in the future but also to talk about why we are seeing Republicans in states nationwide try to change their election laws. Like what you're seeing in Texas, basing all of it off of the lie that was pushed and perpetrated by former President Trump. And that is what President Biden got out here today when he was ticking through all of the audits and the hand counts — recounts and the recounts that doubled and tripled themselves in some states to go after and make sure the vote count was entirely and completely accurate. And he walked through that step by step. And I think that was part of a tool to convince and to push back on some of these Republicans in these states to say what they are doing is not based on anything. It's not that there was fraud in one of these states and that's why you're seeing some lawmakers and state lawmakers talk about the need to overhaul it. There is none of that. And so, President Biden was going after to say it's baseless what they are basing all of this is on. You know, what they are pushing back on and what you're seeing Democrats and civil rights activists say is such a threat to democracy in trying to limit access to the ballot is based on nothing. All perpetrated by former President Trump. And he was saying the Big Lie is just that. It's a Big Lie.
CAMEROTA: [H]ere's the problem. The people who believe the Big Lie get their information from a network that still calls itself a news network though it doesn't take the President's speeches and today was no different. They noted that President Biden was speaking but they never took the sound up. They were too busy covering Bill Gates's divorce. And so, the people will not hear — I mean — a large chunk of the country — will not hear President Biden's message that — there — that democracy is basically, you know, in some states, being threatened or stolen before our very eyes.
CNN political analyst Errol Louis took a friendlier tone, boasting that Biden’s “remarkably important message” could have been even “more solemn if it had been delivered during primetime from the Oval Office” as he “enlist[ed] civil rights organizations,” “the courts,” and “the rest of the nation” in the “big, long, vicious fight” against Republicans.
Louis also praised the AWOL Texas Democrats, calling their behavior an “extraordinary action” that wasn’t “a stunt but people really sort of being as creative as possible in trying to turn back this threat to the country.”
In between Sellers again showing his dismay with the White House, Collins and King used their final chance before breaking to trash the right as oppressors (click “expand’):
KING: [T]he President at one point, he was trying to shame Republicans. My god, you know, pay attention to the big lie, but we’ve seen this play out. And I think some times the President sometimes does have this romanticized view that if you talk to people long enough, you will get them to come around or at least strike a reasonable compromise. That Republican party doesn't exist anymore. Look what happened to Liz Cheney when she stood up to Donald Trump and the Big Lie. There are some Republicans who will stand up to big lie, but they are few and far in between. And the Republicans here in leadership in Washington, leadership in state Republican parties, leadership in the governor's office who are passing these laws around the country, they know the election was not stolen. They know there was no fraud. But they continue to use — no widespread fraud — but they continue to push these laws because these laws, Victor, guarantee more Republican power. If you have fewer drop boxes in Harris County, Texas then fewer blacks and Latinos vote or it's harder for them to vote.
KING: Can they get the proof in the pudding? Will they raise the money to educate all these Democratic voters? Can they prove the Republicans wrong at the polls next year? We’re in the early chapter of this fight, but if you're a Democrat or if you’re just an advocate of voting rights who’s an independent or a Republican or whatever, you're losing.
COLLINS: I think part of the goal was to bring everyone back down to reality, to look at these election laws being enacted all across the nation that are based on nothing. There was no widespread fraud in the 2020 election. And the President made clear it was one of the safest and most secure in our nation’s history. Election experts have said that all across the board and he was speaking directly to Trump without naming him when he was saying you cannot deny the outcome of an election just because you did not like it. That's what is essentially happening here. And that's what you're seeing Republicans push across the board. So, while we are seeing the calls from Democrats for new federal legislation so they can override some of these state laws that they feel are too restrictive and are going tp block people from actually voting, you have to also remember the root of this entire issue is Donald Trump. And former President Trump pushing those election law lies that is now spurred on Republicans across the board to do so as well even though they are based on absolutely nothing.
This combination of cheering the Biden administration and saying it wasn’t partisan enough was made possible thanks to the endorsement of advertisers such as Liberty Mutual, TD Ameritrade, and T-Mobile. Follow the links to see their contact information at the MRC’s Conservatives Fight Back page.
To see the relevant CNN transcript from July 13, click here.