CNN anchor calls new Republican Speaker Mike Johnson a “blank slate”

John Knefel wrote earlier today about how mainstream news outlets are downplaying or outright ignoring the extremist history of the new speaker of the house, Rep. Mike Johnson:

Johnson is a four-term representative and constitutional lawyer who worked to overturn the results of the 2020 election by leading an amicus brief in a Texas lawsuit that would have delayed the electoral vote in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. He also voted not to certify the election results in Congress.

Johnson has a long history of anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion extremism, including working as senior legal counsel for the extreme anti-LGBTQ legal group Alliance Defending Freedom. (The group was formerly known as the Alliance Defense Fund.) 

Since entering Congress, Johnson has introduced a federal version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which would eliminate federal funding for libraries, schools, and other organizations that discussed aspects of gay and trans identities. In July, he argued against parents having access to gender-affirming care for their children, falsely claiming it constituted “abuse and physical harm.” As a member of the Louisiana legislature, he introduced a bill that could have permitted de facto discrimination against gay couples, including allowing landlords to deny rental applications or employers to fire someone in a same-sex relationship. A recent CNN report reveals that Johnson wrote op-eds in which he called homosexuality a “inherently unnatural” and “dangerous lifestyle,” and called for the criminalization of gay sex.

Johnson has also co-sponsored a bill that would ban abortion nationwide and sued Kentucky for religious discrimination on behalf of Ark Encounter, a creationist theme park. But major U.S. news outlets largely ignored Johnson’s record of anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion positions following his nomination as the GOP House speaker-designate.

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Citation From CNN coverage on October 25, 2023

JOHN KING (CNN ANCHOR): Out of three weeks of chaos comes very important history. A man even many Republican senators knew nothing about this morning. And I would believe most Americans knew nothing about this moming.

He's about to be third in line to the presidency once he is sworn in as speaker of the House. Mike Johnson will be third in line to the presidency of the United States after the president and the vice president. He'll now be the leader of a very fractious Republican conference.

And we were talking earlier, the Democrats believe they can use him and Trump to run in the 2024 campaign. That will be a challenge. That's a huge difference between him and the Democrats.

But we're going to see the president in the Rose Garden in a few minutes. He's never negotiated with Joe Biden. He's going to have to now negotiate with the president of the United States. He's also never negotiated with Mitch McConnell.

This will also exacerbate because of the wing of the party he comes from. The differences we have seen play out in the last couple of years between House Republicans and Senate Republicans.

So it's a new face. It's a new leader. He's a blank slate. That is an enormous opportunity. The challenges are so many for a person who has zero experience at this level – doesn't mean he can't do it, but he has zero experience at what he inherits in just a matter of minutes, they'll tally the votes. He'll be sworn in as speaker. He will get the gavel and then, wow, we move into a next very big chapter.