CNN’s Don Lemon and Brooke Baldwin made headlines this week with separate outbursts aimed at a guest who characterized left-wing activists as a “mob.”
But the thing about their reactions is that they feel a bit ... over-the-top. Do they not remember how the press treated the Tea Party? Judging by their shocked — shocked! — reactions, you'd think both Lemon and Baldwin were out of the country between 2009 and 2012.
“Oh, you’re not going to use the ‘mob’ word here,” Baldwin said this week after guest Matt Lewis used “mob” to refer to the people who chased Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and his wife from a restaurant in the nation’s capital on Sept. 24.
Lewis responded, “It’s totally a mob. Without a doubt. There’s no other word for it!”
“Matt, Matt — a mob,” the CNN host said. “Stop. Stop. A mob is what we saw in Charlottesville, Va., two Augusts ago.”
She continued, asking her guests to move past the “m-word.” She wasn’t trying to be funny.
Later, Lemon had an outburst of his own aimed at, again, Matt Lewis.
“Is it mob behavior? No, it’s not mob behavior,” the CNN host said of the people who chased Cruz from the restaurant. “It’s people who are upset, and they’re angry with the way the country is going.”
He continued, adding that the U.S. Constitution allows Americans to protest “wherever you want.”
"To call people mobs because they are exercising their constitutional right is just beyond the pale," Lemon concluded.
Boy, won’t they be shocked to learn about how Tea Party and other conservative-leaning protesters were treated by the press back in the early days of the Obama administration?
In 2009, for example, the Green Bay Press-Gazette said of a contentious town hall event that, “If the event were a shouting match, the mob won.” Politico reported at the same time: “The Green Bay crowd doesn't sound as tough as the mob that shouted down Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) over the weekend in Austin.” Politico also said in a separate report that: “In this video making the rounds this morning, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), appears to get overrun by an angry mob of anti-health care reform protesters at an event in south Austin.” Doggett himself repeatedly referred to the protesters later as a “mob.”
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow declared on Aug. 4, 2009, that “corporate lobbying groups” were “doing their part” to oppose the healthcare law by “turning out the mobs, telling them where to go and giving them their scripts.”
“When it comes to professionally-organized, fake grassroots rent-a-mob, shutting down what used to be normal small ‘d’ democratic processes, as Congressman Doggett suggested, today's organized healthcare riots have a long and impressive pedigree. Bush v. Gore, anyone?” the Left’s version of Sean Hannity asked.
She went on to describe the town hall protesters as a “mob” seven more times that evening.
At the outset of a Congress’ fall recess in 2009, the late Ed Schultz warned his viewers that “the Tea Party mobs are back in force.” Politico reported elsewhere that same year that members of Congress complained they were being approached by "angry, sign-carrying mobs.”
Later, on Mar. 23, 2010, after the successful passage of the Affordable Care Act, a Charleston Gazette editorial declared proudly that the law had “prevailed" against the "frenzied ranting of Tea Party mobs.” Columnist Donald Kaul wrote later that “Republicans aren't serious people … [they] played to the tea party mob outside, holding up placards like cheerleaders at a homecoming rally.”
And there’s more, as Commentary’s Noah Rothman pointed out Wednesday on Twitter.
Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi wrote in 2010 that the Tea Party "is little more than a weird and disorderly mob…” The Huffington Post reported that year that one Tea Party rally had a “mob-like atmosphere.”
I could go on, but you get the picture.
Lemon and Baldwin may be shocked to learn that their own colleagues didn’t use exactly flattering language to cover Tea Party protesters. Anderson Cooper, for example, had to apologize after referring to the protesters as “Tea Baggers.” Lemon himself said in 2009:
A member of Congress calling the president a liar, town hallers yelling at lawmakers, carrying guns to rallies, refusing to let kids hear the commander in chief. And on and on and on. What's behind it? Is it racial? Yeah, I said it.
This isn’t to say that Lemon and Baldwin aren’t entitled to their reactions this week. They’re free to get as angry as they please! This is more to ask of them: Are you new here?
If they think referring to the Cruz protesters as a “mob” is beyond the pale, one can’t help but ask: Where was this righteous indignation in 2009 through 2012? Or is it as simple as they consider it worse when the “m-word” (I still can’t believe this is a thing Baldwin said with a straight face) is applied to left-wing protesters?
Full disclosure: This author is a paid contributor with CNN/HLN.