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CNN Hosts Liberal Activists Who Bash Santorum, Gingrich for 'Verbal War Against the Poor'

Hosting two far-left activists, CNN's Suzanne Malveaux teed them up with "controversial" quotes from Republican presidential hopefuls that she said "people found quite offensive and strange." The interview with PBS's Tavis Smiley and Princeton professor Cornel West aired during the 12 p.m. hour of Newsroom. [Video below the break. Click here for audio.]

Unsurprisingly, the duo bashed Republicans and hit President Obama from the left. Malveaux simply provided a podium for them to proclaim their liberal gospel. The two "controversial" soundbites that were aired were quotes from candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum:

NEWT GINGRICH, Republican presidential candidate: Young children who are poor ought to learn how to go to work. It would be great if inner city schools and poor neighborhood schools actually hired the children to do things. Some of the things they could do would be work in the library, work in the front office. Some of them, frankly, could be janitorial.

JAKE TAPPER, ABC News White House correspondent: The Democrats could very easily take that comment and say Newt Gingrich wants inner-city kids to become janitors at age 10.

GINGRICH: Alright, and the correct answer is that's a lie. Newt Gingrich wants inner-city kids to learn how to have a job.

(...)

RICK SANTORUM, Republican presidential candidate: I don't want to make bla – people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.

"Those are comments that people found quite offensive and strange," Malveaux insisted, and asked her guests what they thought of them. "They would be laughable, Suzanne, if they weren't so serious, if the issue of poverty weren't so serious and so devastating and growing," Tavis Smiley ranted.

[Video below.]





Smiley ripped Santorum and Gingrich for "demonizing, casting aspersion on, a verbal war against the poor," and slammed both parties in Congress over "a bipartisan consensus that the poor don't really matter."

Meanwhile, Cornel West hit both Republicans and Obama from the left. "There's no doubt that President Obama is much better than the Republican candidates when it comes to the issues of justice," he maintained.

So what does West think Obama needs to do better? Listen to the far left base of his party – as in "the Bernie Sanders and the Maxine Waters and Steven Cohens and Keith Ellisons and others in his own party."

A transcript of the segment, which aired on January 11 at 12:41 p.m. EST, is as follows:

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: We're now heavy into the political season. We've heard a lot from the presidential hopefuls giving their ideas on the economy. Here are some of the more controversial statements.

(Video Clip)

NEWT GINGRICH, Republican presidential candidate: Young children who are poor ought to learn how to go to work. It would be great if inner city schools and poor neighborhood schools actually hired the children to do things. Some of the things they could do would be work in the library, work in the front office. Some of them, frankly, could be janitorial.

JAKE TAPPER, ABC News White House correspondent: The Democrats could very easily take that comment and say Newt Gingrich wants inner-city kids to become janitors at age 10.

GINGRICH: Alright, and the correct answer is that's a lie. Newt Gingrich wants inner-city kids to learn how to have a job.

RICK SANTORUM, Republican presidential candidate: I don't want to make bla – people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.

(End Video Clip)

MALVEAUX: All right, so Tavis Smiley, Cornel West joining us again. They've been traveling across the country to try to bring the issue of poverty into the political conversation. Tavis is the host of the Tavis Smiley show on PBS and radio show on Public Radio International. Cornel West is a Princeton professor and author.

Those are comments that people found quite offensive and strange, and we've heard from some of the candidates who responded and actually retracted their comments. What do you make of them?

TAVIS SMILEY, host, PBS's Tavis Smiley: They would be laughable, Suzanne, if they weren't so serious, if the issue of poverty weren't so serious and so devastating and growing. So exponentially those comments would almost be laughable. What America suffers from - Dr. West and I are working right now – when we leave you we're going back to the table at the hotel. We've been working on trying to finish up the final edits on a new book coming out in April called "The Rich and The Rest of Us."

It's really a poverty manifesto. We argue in this book, will argue that what America suffers from, Suzanne, is not just a poverty of opportunity, but a poverty of imagination, a poverty of compassion, a poverty of vision. We somehow have a poverty of a number of things and when you hear those kind of comments that comes to mind immediately. There's no affirmation there. There's no vision there, there's no imagination there.

These comments are playing to base voters and what – the bottom line is this. In Washington right now on the issue of poverty, there appears to be, Suzanne, a bipartisan consensus that the poor don't really matter. The milquetoast, spineless Democrats have not been as aggressive on this as they should be. Some exceptions, but by and large, they have not been as aggressive.

And if this is what you're getting from the Republicans who want to be president, demonizing, casting aspersion on, a verbal war against the poor – well, that ain't the answer either.

MALVEAUX: Professor West, I want to bring you to the conversation here. Two things, are there any Republican presidential hopefuls that you've heard a message that seems to address the solutions to the problem of poverty, and secondly, does the president, President Obama, is he doing enough to actually bring attention to this and address it?

CORNEL WEST, professor, Princeton University: No, I haven't seen a Republican candidate that hit this issue head-on in the way he or she ought. There's no doubt that President Obama is much better than the Republican candidates when it comes to issues of justice. It's just that in the end he has not had the kind of commitment that I think he ought to have especially if he had the same commitment to poor people that he had to the investment bankers. And I think we'd be in better shape.

I think he needs to listen to the Bernie Sanders and the Maxine Waters and Steven Cohens and Keith Ellisons and others in his own party. He's been recently speaking in a very powerful way about jobs and that's a good thing. Tavis Smiley and I applaud that. When he sides with the poor, we're with him. When he sides with the well-to-do and the powerful, we're critical of him. We support principles, not politicians. But certainly he's better than the Republicans.

But for the most part, the best thing to happen to the issue of poverty is Tavis raising the issue, Amy Goodman raising the issue, Keith Olbermann raising the issue, you raising the issue on your show and the Occupy Movement making sure that we talk seriously about poverty and wealth inequality.

- Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center