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CNN's Don Lemon Treated Dem Opponents of Debt Ceiling Bill With Kid Gloves, But Scrutinized Dissenting Republican

Both House Democrats and Republicans opposed the debt ceiling compromise, but CNN's Don Lemon gave softball interviews to three Democratic congressmen who voted against the bill, while scrutinizing Tea Party Congressman Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) for his opposition.

"Why the change of heart, Congressman?" the CNN host asked Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) Tuesday on his decision to switch his vote to no. Lemon let him explain his vote and even asked if Frank's colleagues had read the bill before supporting it. "She [Pelosi] came out and supported it. But do you think your colleagues actually read the bill?" he asked Frank.

In contrast, Lemon abruptly asked Rep. Walsh Monday to defend fellow Republicans against shrill accusations of holding the country hostage to cut spending. "[W]hat do you say to the Democrats who compared some Republicans to terrorists and who said Republicans held the country hostage?" Lemon brought up the accusation multiple times in the interview.

"There are many who say the debt ceiling and the deficit talks really had nothing to do with each other and that this crisis was manufactured," Lemon told Walsh. "All you had to do is raise the debt ceiling and then promise at least some sort of talks or at least come to a consensus that we need to bring down our deficit, we really need to talk, let's get the president involved. But by bringing in the debt ceiling that you in some way hijacked the American people for a time."

Meanwhile, that same evening Lemon interviewed two Democraticic congressmen and avoided similar scrutiny with them, even though they also voted against raising the debt ceiling.

"There are a lot of economists, conservative and liberal, who agree with you on this, so why this whole narrative lately about cutting spending, good, raising taxes, bad?" Lemon reassuringly asked Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.)

"Clearly the President caved. Why?" Lemon asked Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), sounding like a disillusioned liberal. He wondered if Obama would be strong enough to represent the interests of his liberal base, even asking if the President would be "better off running as a conservative" in the next election.

Lemon also referenced a "chart" reporting that Democrats are twice as likely to support compromise by their congressman than Republicans. He then set up the Democrat congressman with a softball question. "Would it be better for the country if Democrats were more like Republicans or the perhaps if Republicans were more like Democrats?"

A transcript of the interview questions is as follows:

Transcript of Don Lemon's Interview With Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.):

CNN
IN THE ARENA
8/1/11
8:07 p.m. EDT

DON LEMON: Listen, before I ask you about your vote, what do you say to the Democrats who compared some Republicans to terrorists and who said Republicans held the country hostage?

(...)

LEMON: Why did you vote no on the deal?

(...)

LEMON: And listen, I think everyone will agree that it is a serious crisis that we need to cut spending, we need to reduce our deficit. But here is the thing, a lot of the people are concerned, right, that maybe the Right, the Republicans, have carried this too far and that by cutting spending that it will indeed hurt the economy. You said that you wanted a big, bold deal. Was Speaker Boehner bold enough in his efforts to get that done?

(...)

LEMON: When you think about - I watched the press conference today when the leaders came out, when Speaker Boehner came out and others, and they talked about the change of tone at least that they had gotten in Washington. They wanted more. They said that this wasn't a perfect deal. Is there a lesson in compromise here? Because if you ask someone on the left, they'll say the right is not compromising. If you ask someone on the right, they'll say the left isn't compromising. Is this a lesson here on compromise and the way things are going to happen henceforth in Washington?

(...)

LEMON: There are many who say the debt ceiling and the deficit talks really had nothing to do with each other and that this crisis was manufactured. All you had to do was raise the debt ceiling and then promise at least some sort of talks, or at least come to a consensus that we need to bring down our deficit, we really need to talk, let's get the president involved. But by bringing in the debt ceiling that you in some way hijacked the American people for a time.

(...)

LEMON: And I want to ask you something on a personal note, because I believe in full transparency here. It has been a very difficult week for you with your personal finances coming out that you owe $117,000 in child support that you haven't paid, yet, you haven't gone away. You still keep coming in front of the cameras and you still keep addressing it. Tell America why you have done that.

(...)

LEMON: And I have to run here, but do you believe this crisis is behind you and that the people will support you and your constituents will support you next time around?

Transcript of Don Lemon's Interview With Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.):

CNN
IN THE ARENA
8/1/11
8:17 p.m. EDT

DON LEMON: One congressman, Emanuel Cleaver, even called the deal a sugar-coated Satan sandwich....What do you make of what he said, a sugar-coated Satan sandwich?

(...)

LEMON: There are a lot of economists, conservative and liberal, who agree with you on this, so why this whole narrative lately about cutting spending, good, raising taxes, bad?

(...)

LEMON: So when you say the President and his constituents – bought into the narrative too much, what – are you saying these are talking points or that will repeat so much that people believe them?

(...)

LEMON: Because you called this an artificial crisis and doubly so because of what you say is a false narrative, what you just said – and then tying the debt ceiling to deficit reduction.

(...)

LEMON: Right. And we don't have a crystal ball, but it is – I think it is fair to say that the previous administration was a bit more direct in their approach than the current administration. There's a perception that this president just sort of sits back from the sidelines and watches things and then steps in maybe at the last minute.

(...)

LEMON: Okay. So listen, do Republicans and Democrats have the same idea? Because we're hearing that some people don't really know what's in the bill. Do both sides have the same idea of what's in the bill? Because Biden is saying one thing and then John Boehner is saying another.

(...)

LEMON: And let me ask you this. So in November, when the party of 12 come back with their recommendations – revenues, taxes, you think will be in play then?

Transcript of Don Lemon's Interview With Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.):

CNN
IN THE ARENA
8/1/11
8:23 p.m. EDT

DON LEMON: Clearly, the president caved. Why?

(...)

LEMON: What would you - what would you have liked to have seen the President do? Because even Mitch McConnell said on Saturday, he said, listen, the President is the one who decides this. If he agrees with us, then most of the Democrats will fall in line. What would you have liked to have seen from the president?

(...)

LEMON: Congressman, I want the ask you this, really it's about the president's political future and whether or not it's helped him. But let me read this first, and then you can answer. Your colleague in New York Gary Ackerman said the Republicans invited the president, quote, "to negotiate at a strip poker table, and he showed up half naked," and then liberal columnist Paul Krugman calls the deal an "abject surrender." Would the president be better off running as a conservative in 2012?

(...)

LEMON: It's not that is he too conservative, but do you feel that he is strong enough when it comes to these issues and fighting for what Democrats want?

(...)

LEMON: Well, so this – you think this won't matter by 2012, that he's not going to be hurt by this politically?

(...)

LEMON: I want to move on to this, because there is this chart that's been going around showing that Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to want their representative to compromise. Democrats twice as likely as Republicans to want their representative to compromise. All right, to get things done. And then that Republicans are twice as likely to want their representatives to stick to their principles. Would it be better for the country if Democrats were more like Republicans or the perhaps if Republicans were more like Democrats?

Transcript of Don Lemon's Interview With Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.):

CNN
IN THE ARENA
8/2/11
8:12 p.m. EDT

DON LEMON: And my next guest was a yes vote on the debt deal before, but at the 11th hour, he suddenly became a no. And he happens to be the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee. Congressman Barney Frank. (...) All right. So you go from quoting Henney Youngman, it appears to be on a positive note there. Yet when it came time to vote last night, you voted no. Why the change of heart, Congressman?

(...)

LEMON: Okay. So listen. So you took the time to read it. Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday night she wasn't sure, she wanted to read the bill before she supported it. And she came out and supported it. But do you think your colleagues actually read the bill?

(...)

LEMON: So – listen, I have to ask you this. A veteran like Barney Frank who knows his way around Washington and through legislation – why would you endorse something that you hadn't read?

(...)

LEMON: Let's talk about this committee of 12. What do you think of the idea of a committee to work this out? Because if – you know, if people will say, if you guys couldn't work it out, how is a committee going to work it out?

(...)

LEMON: Do you want to be on that committee? Would you accept the job?

(...)

LEMON: There's a part of the country that's happy with what the Republicans have done, and especially the Tea Party members who they believe held Washington's feet to the fire when it comes to spending. But there's another part of the country who believe that those people, those same people, brought the country to the brink of default as you did by voting no and that you're no different than a Tea Party member. How do you respond to that?