Today, CNN highlighted comments National Rifle Association board member and Washington Times columnist Ted Nugent made on Dana Loesch's radio show but repeatedly avoided telling viewers that Loesch is a paid CNN contributor. Nugent appeared on Loesch's show yesterday to defend his inflammatory comments about the Obama administration, saying he stood by his remarks at the NRA and that his message had been "100 percent positive."
Speaking at the NRA national convention on April 14, Nugent accused President Obama of having a "vile, evil America-hating administration" that is "wiping its ass with the Constitution." He went on to tell the crowd that "[w]e need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November" and said: "If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year." Politico reported that the Secret Service heard Nugent's comments and is "conducting an appropriate follow-up."
During the Loesch interview, Nugent added more derogatory comments about Democrats, describing Democratic chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as a "brain-dead, soulless, heartless idiot," and saying that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi was a "sub-human scoundrel."
Loesch also accused Democrats of "using" Nugent "to distract from the president's low poll numbers, the disaster with Fast & Furious, which I know was a topic as well at NRA, at the convention, Solyndra, high gas prices." She added: "You're a scapegoat. They're trying to suggest that you said something that you emphatically did not say."
She later told Nugent:
LOESCH: You made this statement that well, "if Barack Obama becomes president in November again, I'll either be dead or in jail by this time next year." I think, quite honestly, most -- every conservative would be in jail because we wouldn't be going along with the Obamacare mandates.
In reporting on the comments, CNN's early morning show, Early Start, did note that Loesch is a "CNN contributor and tea party activist" during the 5:00 and 6:00 am ET hour. But after that, CNN repeatedly neglected to mention Loesch's affiliation with CNN.
CNN either described Loesch as a "conservative talk show host" or did not identify her at all.
Here is how CNN's Starting Point covered Nugent's comments on The Dana Show:
CNN Newsroom gave Loesch similar treatment:
CNN has been criticized for its handling of Loesch, especially when she cheered on an Internet video reportedly showing U.S. Marines urinating on what appeared to be dead Afghans, saying she would "drop trou and do it too." While CNN journalists condemned her remarks, including one who argued that this kind of rhetoric "has a negative impact on the CNN brand," a CNN spokesperson released a statement saying:
CNN contributors are commentators who express a wide range of viewpoints -- on and off of CNN -- that often provoke strong agreement or disagreement. Their viewpoints are their own.
However, Politico's Dylan Byers later reported:
For the record, CNN did stop booking Dana Loesch for two-and-a-half weeks after she made comments championing U.S. Marines for urinating on Taliban soldiers and suggesting that she would have done the same.[...]
Loesch was off the air from Jan. 10, two days before she made the remarks, to Jan. 30. So CNN executives were concerned with her comments -- or with the coverage surrounding her comments -- just not concerned enough to issue a formal suspension.
But for those concerned with what they see as a double standard at CNN, Loesch's absence probably doesn't quell their frustrations. This is less about Martin or Loesch and how much time they have to take off from what aren't their primary jobs anyway -- it is about the network and what it defines as "regrettable and offensive."