Richard Viguerie brought his criticism of CNN's "left-of-center" bent
on Thursday's Parker-Spitzer, and recommended that the network bring on
more "articulate conservatives." The two CNN hosts, whom Viguerie
recently criticized in a recent column, did their best to support his
allegation by bringing on four liberals as guests during the program.
The conservative wrote an August 17, 2010 column in the Washington Examiner
criticizing CNN for claiming that they're "playing it right down the
middle," when in reality, they lean towards the liberal side. Parker
launched right into addressing her guest's criticism: "So, we're going
to go ahead and get the elephant out of the room, and I'm not talking
about you. But you did write about me....that I am a 'pleasantly wishy-washy, mostly plain vanilla Republican.' It's hard to see your words applied when the person is actually present, isn't it?"
Viguerie replied by half-jokingly taking back his label, but immediately gave her another:
VIGUERIE: Kathleen, all due respect, in the last 10 days or so,
I have been watching this show, I would change vanilla to more
distilled water. I've not heard you say, an ideological thought that
disagrees with Eliot.
After her guest's "distilled water" line, Parker unsurprisingly replied, "I'm not an ideologue. I'm not an ideologue- that's why." The columnist has admitted herself that she is only "slightly right of center."
Throughout the first half of the 11-minute segment , which began 15
minutes into the 8 pm Eastern hour, Spitzer actually more vigorously
defended his co-host than she defended herself. Later, Viguerie stated
that "CNN says they play it down the middle. Nobody
that I know- literally no one in the Republican, conservative,
right-of-center community sees CNN as playing it down the middle. We see it as- you know, left of center." Parker merely replied, "Well, they hired me to balance that out." On the other hand, the former New York governor of "Client Number Nine" infamy chimed in that "Kathleen is not only not plain vanilla- she is acerbic, she's smart, and she- her critiques are devastating, but we'll get to that over the course of this show."
When the conservative countered by stating that "I'd just like for her to express some conservative thoughts," Spitzer played his old role as prosecutor, which led to some back and forth between him and Viguerie:
SPITZER: And since we're both here at CNN, and- you know, I have this
funny thing, when you gore my ox or whatever the cliche is, I'm going
defend it. You said at the top that CNN was left of center- didn't play
it straight down the middle. Give us some examples, because- honestly,
I, sitting here now as a journalist, think that this a network
that firmly believes in facts and vigorous debate, but always based on
the facts, and makes it clear when a statement is a statement of opinion. So give us examples.
VIGUERIE: Well, I ran into David Gergen, somebody who I've known for
decades and I like David, and we were talking, and David now lives at
Harvard. He's part of the CNN crew here. Everywhere I look at CNN, I see
the ruling class. And when you look at Fox, you see people that you
could see maybe living next door to you- you know, being a colleague at
PARKER: Well listen, I moved here from Camden, South Carolina, a population of-
VIGUERIE: Well, but- CNN-
PARKER: Yeah, I mean, come on.
VIGUERIE: But Kathleen, how many times do you see conservatives on CNN who are articulate and will challenge an Eliot Spitzer?
PARKER: I have to tell you, they're really hard to find, because Fox has got them all on payroll. (laughs)
SPITZER: Here's the thing, Rich-
VIGUERIE: Well, it's out there, but we're looking for you to raise-
SPITZER: Richard, once before I said this in this program: that was fun
to listen to, but you didn't answer the question. (Parker laughs)-
VIGUERIE: (laughs) No- well, you're a good lawyer-
SPITZER: Give me a specific case. Give me a specific case where we at CNN did not tell the facts as they were.
VIGUERIE: No, no. David Halverson, the great writer, said years ago, in a book that he wrote, that
media bias does not come in distorting facts, lying, misrepresenting
things- it comes in the selection of the news story. So when liberals
look at waste, fraud and abuse, say, in the military, and they don't
look at waste, fraud and abuse in the welfare program- that's media
bias. So, where are the articulate conservatives on here on CNN?
SPITZER: We invited you. We invited you. I couldn't have been happier to get you on the show.
VIGUERIE: But that's great, Eliot, but that's 10 minutes. You
know, you're going to be on for five hours this week and five hours next
week. But where are the articulate conservatives that will challenge
you, day in- and not just there, but all throughout CNN?
Spitzer even went on to claim that he thought Viguerie was wrong because "I
think the two of us are not only open-minded on every issue, we battle
when we disagree, and we go to facts and we go to first principles about
what makes this country great, which is markets, capitalism, democracy,
tolerance. That is what we believe in. I'm no liberal, I'm no
conservative- I believe in those basic principles."
Viguerie has some ground to stand on if you just looked at the rest of
the Parker-Spitzer program that evening, because the two hosts had
former Al Gore advisor and leftist extraordinaire Naomi Wolf and Tea
Party-basher John Avlon for two segments. During the second Wolf-Avlon
segment, Parker and Spitzer also brought on homosexual activist Andrew
Sullivan and NPR contributor John Ridley for a panel discussion.
- Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.