The Washington Post

Soledad O’Brien satirizes Allen West

CNN’s Soledad O’Brien doesn’t sign off from the segment above by saying “Good night, and good luck,” in part because she works the morning shift. But there is something Edward R. Murrovian in how she vacates the communist-conspiracy nonsense of Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.).

O’Brien replayed West’s videotaped contention that there are “between 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the communist party.” To the question of whether we’re talking here about “card-carrying” communists, West went all pedantic on his CNN audience, claiming he’s had to provide a “tutorial” to the ignorant on something that he calls “the political spectrum of ideologies.” The skinny: West believes U.S. communists have re-branded themselves as “progressives,” and he says there’s a whole hive of them hiding under the banner of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Then comes the good stuff (see 3:31 in the clip above). O’Brien asks West to start naming names. He demurs and blathers on about this and that. O’Brien makes the executive decision not to listen to him, opting instead to pose some fun-poking questions as the congressman continues to pontificate: “So Keith Ellison is a communist? Raul Grijalva is a communist? Tammy Baldwin is a communist? Judy Chu is a communist?” West never recovers.

When Murrow’s people in 1954 were preparing a show exposing the red-baiting tactics of Republican Sen. Joseph McCarthy, a top staffer asked if anyone “on the staff had anything to hide,” according to Bob Edwardss’ book “Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism.” Murrow himself remarked, “The terror is right here in this room.” For CNN staffers today, replace “terror” with “humor.”

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

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