Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) refused to talk to a notorious CNN reporter on Capitol Hill Thursday morning, opting instead to dismiss him as a “liberal hack” as she breezed by.
Her reaction triggered angry and indignant responses from members of the media, Democrats and NeverTrump Republicans alike.
“Senator McSally, should the Senate consider new evidence as part of the impeachment trail?” CNN’s Manu Raju breathlessly asked as they walked through a Senate hallway.
“Manu, you’re a liberal hack, I’m not talking to you,” McSally said.
“You’re not going to comment about this?” Raju asked.
“You’re a liberal hack, buddy,” McSally shot back.
Here's the moment when Sen. Martha McSally called CNN's Manu Raju a "liberal hack": pic.twitter.com/5iJ4brXuXg
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) January 16, 2020
Later on Twitter, Raju complained that McSally had “lashed out” at him.
“Sen. Martha McSally, a Republican facing a difficult election race, lashed out when I asked if she would consider new evidence as part of the Senate trial,” he wrote.
Sen. Martha McSally, a Republican facing a difficult election race, lashed out when I asked if she would consider new evidence as part of the Senate trial. “You’re a liberal hack – I’m not talking to you. You’re a liberal hack.” She then walked into a hearing room.
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 16, 2020
McSally doubled down on her contention that Raju is a “liberal hack,” and tweeted her own video of the interaction:
— Martha McSally (@SenMcSallyAZ) January 16, 2020
Liberals and Never-Trumpers reacted indignantly on Twitter to McSally’s breezy dismissal of Raju.
Michael Barbaro, the host of a NYT podcast called “The Daily,” said that the “verbal attack” on the reporter was “unwarranted” and “totally unfair.”
A verbal attack that is 1. False and 2. Unwarranted. Totally fair Q. https://t.co/BmNElqsVBF
— Michael Barbaro (@mikiebarb) January 16, 2020
Politico’s Jake Sherman said it was “a strange answer to a great reporter asking a question that literally every senator is getting asked.”
CNN’s Jake Tapper sniffed that the “question was perfectly reasonable and topical, politely asked,” suggesting implausibly that Manu is respected on the Hill by both Democrats and Republicans equally.
Tapper went on to report that he asked a member of the late Sen. John McCain’s family about McSally’s barb, and the response was: “There’s no love lost between our family and her.”
Given that McSally was appointed to serve our the remainder of Sen John McCain’s term, I asked a member of the family for thoughts on McSally’s comments today.
The response was “There’s no love lost between our family and her.” https://t.co/PvbWFdATCM
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 16, 2020
Brad Polumbo of the Washington Examiner tweeted: “Owning the libs isn’t worth embarrassing yourself. Do better.”
Owning the libs isn't worth embarrassing yourself.
Do better, @SenMcSallyAZ.
— Brad Polumbo (@brad_polumbo) January 16, 2020
Washington Examiner editor Seth Mandel chimed in to say that Manu “deserves far more credit” than McSally gave him and that he has “far more spine” than most journalists.
I will say this about Manu: He's deserving of far more credit than McSally gives him here. I think ppl are overreacting about 'being attacked' or whatever, but Manu is one of the very rare journos who confronts Ilhan Omar, on camera, on the record–far more spine than most.
— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) January 16, 2020
CNN’s Jim Sciutto also characterized McSally’s blunt but accurate remarks as an “attack.”
When you get a direct question, attack the reporter:
Manu- “@SenMcSallyAZ, should the Senate consider new evidence as part of the impeachment trial?”
McSally-“Manu You’re a liberal hack I’m not talking to you.”
Manu- “You’re not going to comment?”
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) January 16, 2020
And Commentary editor Noah Rothman simply called McSally’s words “pretty uncalled for.”
But they were called for, as Raju is one of the Hill’s most shameless and reliable mouth pieces for Democrats.
Until the Russia Collusion hoax fizzled, Raju was one of its biggest peddlers.
In December of 2017, for instance, Raju was involved in”one of the most humiliating spectacles in the history of the U.S. media,” as the Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald put it.
With a tone so grave and bombastic that it is impossible to overstate, CNN went on the air and announced a major exclusive: Donald Trump, Jr. was offered by email advanced access to the trove of DNC and Podesta emails published by WikiLeaks – meaning before those emails were made public.
There was, alas, just one small problem with this massive, blockbuster story: it was totally and completely false. The email which Trump, Jr. received that directed him to the WikiLeaks archive was sent afterWikiLeaks published it online for the whole world to see, not before. Rather than some super secretive operative giving Trump, Jr. advanced access, as both CNN and MSNBC told the public for hours they had confirmed, it was instead just some totally pedestrian message from a random member of the public suggesting Trump, Jr. review documents the whole world was already talking about. All of the anonymous sources CNN and MSNBC cited somehow all got the date of the email wrong.
CNN is leading the way in bashing BuzzFeed but it's worth remembering CNN had a humiliation at least as big & bad: when they yelled that Trump Jr. had advanced access to the WL archive (!): all based on a wrong date. They removed all the segments from YouTube, but this remains: pic.twitter.com/0jiA50aIku
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 19, 2019
Federalist co-founder Sean Davis challenged Tapper to explain how the CNN reporter could have gotten that story so wrong without being either a liberal hack or “too stupid to read the date on the email.”
When your colleague @mkraju falsely reported that @DonaldJTrumpJr got advance notice of Wikileaks dumps, did he deliberately lie about it, was he too stupid to read the date on the e-mail, or did CNN not care as long as your network’s fake news hurt Trump?https://t.co/hk7RbN8hUe
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) January 16, 2020
The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway called Raju “a favorite and reliable leak recipient for Democrats.”
"Team Schiff got CNN’s Manu Raju — a favorite and reliable leak recipient for Democrats (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, for example) — to spin the news." https://t.co/Twls6CKvb6
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) January 16, 2020
In the hostile media environment that is the current Washington press corps, Republicans cannot expect to be given a fair shake. It’s about time Republicans stopped taking reporters like Raju seriously.
It’s unfortunate, but until the media cleans up its act and gets back to unbiased, “just the facts” news reporting, there is no reason for Republicans to give them the time of day.