September 13, 2013

In the “Crossfire” segment above, Newt Gingrich goes on something approaching a rant regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin. The strongman got some low marks from CNN’s new resident historian. Just a low-rent KGB vet, said Gingrich, who continued the riff with this stuff:

This is a guy who clearly, for example, invaded Georgia. He didn’t go and ask the U.N. This is a guy who killed 300,000 people in Chechnya. He didn’t worry about humanitarian concerns.

When he lectures us, that’s his right. But for us to take it seriously is a sign we have forgotten who Vladimir Putin is and why, while we have to deal with him as the president of Russia, we don’t have to respect his views; we don’t have to respect his opinions; and frankly, we should laugh at him when he tries to lecture America about exceptionalism, because he ain’t exceptional. He’s just one more in a long tradition of dictators and thugs. So that’s my view.

Not bad.

Pity, then, that the show’s awful “Ceasefire” segment counterbalanced things. On CNN.com, a subtitle described the segment this way: “CNN Crossfire hosts Van Jones and Newt Gingrich agree on the fact that the United States is an exceptional nation.” Trust the Erik Wemple Blog, the thing was even worse in its execution. Jones kicked things off like this:

Vladimir Putin has been attacking the president for sticking up for American exceptionalism. And I disagree with him on this point and I do so passionately. Because America is exceptional. We had this founding reality that was ugly, it had slavery in it. But we had a founding dream that was about equality and as a country, year after year, decade after decade, we’ve been closing the gap between that founding reality and the founding dream — no country in the world can say that. I think that it’s sad that we’d have to defend that we’re a special place. We are a special place.

Gingrich then prattled on about various social and historical topics before reprising his position on Putin’s op-ed: “To be lectured by Putin on exceptionalism is an honor that I’m happy to bear on behalf of the United States,” said Gingrich. Watch “Ceasefire” in the video below, if you’re a fan of schmaltzy, forced and forgettable TV.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.