With former U.N. Ambassador and former Governor Nikki Haley (R-SC) holding her presidential campaign kickoff Wednesday in Charleston, South Carolina, CNN and MSNBC began the assault against GOP candidates as they seek to take out those seeking to challenge Donald Trump. For Haley, CNN and MSNBC trashed her for saying “America is not a racist country” and instead arguing “nothing could be further from the truth.”
The Lead and State of the Union anchor Jake Tapper went to Sunday Inside Politics host Abby Phillip by remarking “[o]ne of the biggest moments of her speech was when she declared that America is not a racist country.”
Phillip lashed out by saying Haley “can’t get around race,” starting with the fact that she’s “from the State of South Carolina, which has a really horrible, violent, racist history and I think she knows that she has to address that.”
She then griped that her optimistic message about her upbringing as an Indian in South Carolina was too sanitized: “[S]he’s delivering a message that she knows Republican voters are going to receive in a certain way, in exactly the way that they want to hear it.”
Showing Phillip has a hate-filled and overly simplistic view of Republicans, Phillip insisted “[t]he only thing they want to hear is America is not a racist country, but obviously, the issues are more complex than that.”
Phillip made clear she thinks America’s a racist country by way of stating the question’s “deeper than that and, I think at some point, she will have to really grapple with that.”
The CNN hack then suggested Haley doesn’t properly know “race in this country”:
Nikki Haley presents herself as — she said it multiple times today, a daughter of immigrants, someone who has a unique view, on difference in this country, but that’s not the same thing as really understanding race in this country and the role that it plays and I — and I think that that’s the part where she’s going to have to go a little bit further. For the Republican primary for now, though. I think she did exactly what they wanted to hear. She talked about funding the police. She talked about putting people in jail.
Weekday Inside Politics host John King was also dismissive because “[t]here are a lot of contradictions in that speech, a lot of tea party themes in there” and work “will be done in the days and weeks ahead by us, by her rivals” to knock her down.
He added that, despite her “optimistic” message, he predicted such candidates won’t necessarily have success since GOP voters dislike that.
CNN political director David Chalian concurred and hilariously tried to argue Haley was socially moderate because she didn’t go the route of Sarah Huckabee Sanders in the GOP’s State of the Union response with themes of “dark[ness]” and “critical race theory” like “you might hear on Newsmax or Fox.”
Otherwise, there were some platitudes. Tapper said she gave “a robust defense of her conservative principles and the freedom that America stands for” in a “remarkably well-delivered speech” while his State of the Union co-host Dana Bash complimented her for “a very rousing” rally.
MSNBC was less charitable. After Capitol Hill correspondent Ali Vitali praised her speech as “fascinating” in the way she talked about gender while also focusing on her “domestic policy chops” and “deep experience abroad,” the gloves came off.
Faux Republican Michael Steele stepped up, trashing her for “trying to have a little bit of cake and eat it as well” by not disparaging Donald Trump while also hinting at the need for a new generation of leaders.
Steele later added that her calls for competency tests of politicians over 75 (something his ilk demanded be done of Trump) “is just silly” and proves she’s “not serious.”
Boston Globe senior opinion writer Kimberly Atkins Stohr said she’d “have a really difficult time getting through a primary” and also showed her disdain for Haley refusing to say America’s racist (click “expand”):
Look, not only does her past connection with Trump really turn off Never Trump voters, but the — the times that she has been critical of him makes those who are part of the core MAGA base distrust her as well. And you could see in her speech she’s trying to do — you know, have it both ways. She talked negatively about immigration and used the word illegals, but at the same time told this story about how Venezuelans see American — America as a country of hope.
She opened her video talking about how, where she grew up, it was racially divided by railroad tracks, but, at the same time, says, but, you know, racism’s over. That’s just wokeness. She doesn’t seem to have a clear message because she’s trying to please everybody who she’s going to need to please in this primary, and it just ends up falling flat all around. I think she needs to try to figure out — she’s the first one out. All candidates have to do that. But we’re all watching her do it in real time.
Later, Mitchell brought in possible Haley opponent John Bolton to confirm their priors that there’s no “serious case for her candidacy” and Haley comparing herself to fellow former U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick would be like “comparing a destroyer to a surfboard.”
CNN and MSNBC’s collective attempt to dismiss Haley’s candidacy in order to ensure a Trump nomination was made possible thanks to the help of advertisers such as Lexus (on CNN) and Progressive (on MSNBC). Follow the links to see their contact information at the MRC’s Conservatives Fight Back page.
To see the relevant transcript from February 15, click here (for CNN) and here (for MSNBC).