Obama-Supporter, MSNBC Alum Smerconish Gets CNN Show; Network Plays Up His 'Independence'
CNN president Jeff Zucker praised MSNBC guest host Michael Smerconish on Tuesday as he announced that the the cable news network would be giving the radio talk show host a weekly program: "We are thrilled to have Michael join CNN...At a time when the cable news landscape has become increasingly polarized, his independence and passion for reasoned dialogue makes him the perfect fit for CNN."
Smerconish's record, especially at MSNBC, actually does not point to independence, but liberalism. Here are the worst examples of the talker's slant to the left from the Media Research Center's archives [video included below for select quotes:
"Leading off tonight: Who deserves the real apology here?...The facts are that many of the same people that feel betrayed now will be thanking the President later. These are people in so-called junk plans that could bankrupt them and their families if they ever got sick."
-The Obama-endorsing talker running to the President's defense over ObamaCare on the November 8, 2013 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, even a month after the disastrous rollout of HealthCare.gov.
Smerconish, who has filled in for Chris Matthews on Hardball for several years, has boosted MSNBC's slime the GOP/conservative platform on several occasions. Mere days after Rep. Gabby Giffords was severely wounded in Tucson, Arizona, Smerconish helped Chris Matthews point the finger at conservative talk show hosts for the shooting rampage:
MATTHEWS: ...There are some people that work at the extremes....And they use that language, when they talk about the other side, isn't that part of the problem? And my question is doesn't that give the moral license to people who have crazy minds to start with?
SMERCONISH: Short answer is yes. You mentioned earlier...that you find it objectionable when everything is cast as 'the government.' The government is doing this, that or the other thing. My pet peeve is the way that this is all cast as a revolution. I mean, to listen to some of this talk, Chris, you would swear that we're about to overthrow King George III....what I see happening is I see that, that revolutionary script then eliciting a response from the audience.
Congressman Mike Castle being at a town hall...when this thing was reaching its fever pitch and a woman stands up and she is frothing at the mouth and she is screaming, 'I want my country back!' Well she wants her country back from the Muslim, Kenyan-born president....And the insanity of all of this is, the, the insanity of all of this is that the audience...was right there with her. And I looked at that video, I was frightened, these are people who are on the edge and if somebody pushes them over, God help us all."
-Exchange from the January 11, 2011 edition of MSNBC's Hardball.
"Priebus is wading dangerously into an ideology which even he has warned against. That would be party isolationism....This is how you do it [broaden the party]? By shutting out news outlets and retreating to your own Fox News echo chamber? If he gets his way, it isn't new voices that the party will be hearing and reaching, just their own."
-Smerconish on the August 8, 2013 episode of MSNBC's Hardball slamming RNC Chairman Reince Priebus for threatening to "refuse to partner with CNN or NBC on any presidential primary debates if the two networks move ahead with plans for television projects on Hillary Rodham Clinton."
"I'm a guy that you know to be tolerant of harsh interrogation methods. I think that we ought to be in Pakistan, but out of Iraq. I'm for the death penalty. I sound pretty conservative. But I'm for stem cell research. I thought it was appalling what the GOP did on behalf of Terry Schiavo in trying to make that decision for her. I think most Americans to this day are unaware of the fact that Republican platform in 2008 didn't even have an exception for rape or the health of the mother in a case of abortion. I can't live with that. So I'm an independent."
-From the February 23, 2010 episode of Hardball.
"The Republican Party in the aftermath of the presidential race should have come to him and tried to clone him. They need more Arlen Specters. And instead they deride him as a R.I.N.O - Republican In Name Only."
-Smerconish reacting to Senator Arlen Specter leaving the Republican Party, NBC's Today, April 29, 2009.
Back in July 2013, Smerconish defended Eliot Spitzer and called for the legalization of prostitution a day after he interviewed the former New York governor:
"Eliot Spitzer was my guest right here. I told him that when he cheated on his wife with a hooker, his wife should have thrown. his clothes into Central Park. But as far as the public was concerned, it was really not our business. He violated the law and that wasn't right, but we should have an adult conversation about the laws he violated. I would argue that it's time to bring the world's oldest profession aboveboard in communities willing to allow it, clean up the trade, and clamp down on the exploitation. Let government share in the revenue, but otherwise stay out of the private affairs of consenting adults. Beyond the role of the taxman, prostitution doesn't warrant the involvement of federal authorities....Yesterday, when I asked Spitzer whether he believed we should legalize prostitution, he demurred. I won't. We should."
-"Let Me Finish" commentary on the July 9, 2013 edition of Hardball.
"I'm having some doubts about the heroic efforts of Rupert Murdoch's wife to thwart the pie thrower. Now think about it. The whole hearing concerned media manipulation. Parliamentarians were gathered to learn what the Murdochs knew about the hacking and when they knew it. And the testimony didn't go so well....But the story making the most news? It's the pie and the woman who stopped its delivery. Instead of questions about the veracity of the Murdochs' testimony, there's endless chatter about how a man with a checkered shirt approached Murdoch with a foam pie to slam into his face only to have Murdoch's spry wife lunge toward the attacker and thwart his attempt to harm her husband....So now the attention is all on the pie and especially on Murdoch’s half his age wife Wendi Deng. I'm calling it PieGate. I’m wondering what did Wendi Deng know and when did she know it?"
-Smerconish's conspiracy theory about the Murdoch pie-thrower incident, July 11, 2011.
It should be pointed out that Smerconish once attacked his new employer, CNN, for supposedly making the political climate worse:
"...The producer asked whether CNN could identify me as a conservative....Another time, a Fox News producer invited me to appear on a program to discuss then-candidate Barack Obama. I was told they were "looking for someone who would say he's cocky and that his cockiness will hurt him, if not in the primary, definitely in the general election against McCain." I declined. A few hours later, the same producer made a new pitch: 'What about a debate off the top of the show on whether or not Hillary is trustworthy? We have someone who says she is and we're looking for someone who says she isn't.'"
"The message of both episodes is clear: There is no room for nuance. Either you offer a consistent (possibly artificial) ideological view or you often don't get a say....All of which leaves more elected officials beholden to the fringe elements of their parties, which in turn means less gets done. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy, and it is robbing our televisions and radios of the substantive dialogue the country desperately needs, while leaving our politics a petty and unproductive mess."
-From Washington Post op-ed, "On cable TV and talk radio, a push toward polarization," June 11, 2010.
— Matthew Balan is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Matthew Balan on Twitter.