In the twisted Rightwing world of CNN's Erin Burnett, one "tempers" ones views by favoring war over diplomacy. It's the world upside down. But it's prime-time anchor Burnett's world, so, unfortunately, it must be ours as well.
"In Washington, there's no ruling party," progressive activist and congressional expert Howie Klein of "Down With Tyranny" told me during my interview with him on the Mike Malloy Show just prior to Thanksgiving. We were discussing issues surrounding the increasingly conservative bent of the Democratic leadership in the U.S. House.
"The ruling clique in Washington is what's called 'the conservative consensus'," he continued. "And 'the conservative consensus' is the Republicans, not just in Congress, but the Republicans who stay there forever --- in think tanks, and in the media, and in the consultant world, the pundit world. So them --- and the Democrats who are also part of that world --- that's 'the conservative consensus'. It's everybody but the progressives."
That "conservative consensus" is on display every night on CNN, courtesy of Burnett and her insipid Out Front program. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more blatant example of the "conservative consensus" in the media than her comments that I happened to catch last week while on the road.
Here's Burnett during a discussion on her show last Monday (1/7/2013, the full video is here) about the various concerns --- pretend or otherwise --- about President Obama's nomination of former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) as the next Secretary of Defense. Her guests were former George W. Bush Speechwriter and Senior Adviser David "Axis of Evil" Frum and former Pentagon Press Secretary for Barack Obama, Doug Wilson. [Emphasis added.]
And in 2006, to David [Frum]'s point, Hagel said, and I'll just quote him in part: "I would say that a military strike against Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible responsible option ... I believe a political ... settlement will be the answer. Not a military settlement."
Now, since then, to be fair, he has tempered his point of view. In an op-ed as recently as September, he says "war with Iran is not inevitable, but U.S. security is seriously threatened by an armed Iran."
But is he really outside the mainstream on Iran?
What she did right there, with that almost off-handed, almost imperceptible throw-away line --- "to be fair, he has tempered his point of view" --- is simply incredible to me, and a perfect example of the "conservative consensus" that Klein was talking about.
Since when did shifting one's position towards a possibility of war, rather than diplomatic solutions, become a "tempered" point of view in this country? That nobody on the show even blinked an eye about it is even more astounding.
For the record, no matter the way he is being slimed by the "conservative consensus" at CNN and elsewhere on this and other matters, Hagel, a two-time Purple Heart recipient during his time as an infantry squad leader in the Vietnam War, is anything but a pacifist or a so-called left-wing peacenik when it comes to these matters...
He voted in favor of the "Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists", the joint resolution passed just 3 days after the 9/11 attacks in 2001 which was used as the pretext to launch the War in Afghanistan --- despite the fact that it was not approved by the U.N. That resolution passed with overwhelming "mainstream" support in the U.S. House by a vote of 420 to 1. It passed in Hagel's U.S. Senate by a vote of 98 to 0.
The 2002 "Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq" resolution (the Iraq War Resolution) passed the U.S. House with a "mainstream" vote of 297 to 133. It also easily passed in the U.S. Senate, where Hagel was a member at the time and where he voted in favor along with "the mainstream", 77 to 23. Five years later, and after thousands of U.S. troop deaths and zero WMD found (the major public pretext for that war), Hagel began to offer reasonable doubts about the efficacy of the war, and joined Democrats in politely requesting that George W. Bush begin to explore options for timelines to end the increasingly bloody and costly occupation.
Back in 1999, Hagel also co-sponsored the failed "Kosovo Resolution" in the U.S. Senate to authorize the use of U.S. military force against Yugoslavia by President Bill Clinton. While that resolution was unsuccessful, perhaps making a case that Hagel was outside of the U.S. Senate "mainstream" in that instance, the authorization would have allowed Clinton to send ground troops into Kosovo, demonstrating --- along with his votes in favor of war in both Iraq and Afghanistan --- that Hagel does not have a record for opposing the use of military force when he believes, rightly or wrongly, that it may be justified.
Hagel, no matter what one may feel about him, has a record of falling firmly into "the mainstream" when it comes to the use of U.S. military force and launching wars. To suggest otherwise is absurd, but a perfect example of "the conservative consensus" that now pervades the D.C. beltway media. The idea that war with Iran is an inevitability has become a "mainstream" talking point for both Republicans and their media pawns, such as Burnett on CNN. Anyone who doesn't agree is outside of the mainstream until they are forced to "temper" their views to favor the possibilities of war against a sovereign nation.
This is the world turned upside down. But that seems to be where we are in the "mainstream" view of the media's "conservative consensus".
We may as well toss in here an observation about Burnett from Glenn Greenwald several weeks ago, who snarked via Twitter: "Congrats to vocal Occupy Wall Street critic Erin Burnett on her marriage to Citigroup Managing Director David Rubulotta".
Yes, Burnett, who famously mocked Occupy protesters' objections to the Wall Street bank bailouts during her very first week on CNN in 2010, got married just before Christmas to Citigroup's Managing Director. They met, according to Huffington Post, while she was a VP at Citigroup. (Who knew?)
At the time, media theorist and author Douglas Rushkoff --- at CNN --- decried Burnett's obnoxious coverage as "condescending and reductionist".
But, of course, that's the "liberal" CNN you've heard about, where, previously, Campbell Brown --- the wife of Dan Senor, Bush's propaganda man in Iraq turned Mitt Romney's Senior Adviser --- had her own prime time show, for years, just like Burnett. Brown's own conflict of interest was almost never, if ever, stated on her No Bias, No Bull show (seriously, that's what it was called!)
It's one thing to ask tough questions of elected officials. It's another thing entirely to serve as a mouthpiece for the hackneyed Rightwing "conservative consensus" talking points of a disingenuous and discredited political party. Erin Burnett helps turn that consensus into the mainstream every night on CNN --- not on Fox "News", not on Rightwing talk radio, but on CNN --- whether it means attacking the political views of peaceful citizen protesters without disclosing ones own conflicts of interest likely fueling those attacks, or normalizing the idea of war against a nation which currently represents absolutely no threat to this country. That's who Erin Burnett is and she represents everything that continues to be wrong with CNN.