Premium

"You're a liberal hack": Martha McSally ducks CNN question on calling impeachment witnesses

The funniest part of this clip is that a much Trumpier senator, David Perdue of Georgia, stopped and politely answered reporter Manu Raju’s question after McSally had given him the brush-off. And why not? It’s a good question! Watch, then read on:

“Republican politician insults CNN reporter” will always draw some cheap own-the-libs applause online but there’s a mismatch here on both ends. Raju isn’t one of CNN’s notably biased reporters and McSally isn’t a rhetorical bombthrower by nature. To call Jim Acosta a liberal hack is to state a simple truth; to call Raju one is to pick a fight deliberately, which raises the question of why. Is there bad blood between him and McSally that we don’t know about?

I don’t think so. This looks like a stunt, cynically aimed at those same own-the-libs clappers.

McSally raised $4 million for her election campaign in Arizona in the fourth quarter of 2019, which is a nice haul. Just not as nice as her Democratic opponent, Mark Kelly, who raised $6.3 million. He had $13.6 million in the bank at the end of the year, fully six million dollars more than McSally had. The prospect of Arizona having not one but two Democrats in the Senate next year is starkly real.

She’s always been caught in a bind in her home state, stuck between pandering to the MAGA base and convincing swing voters that she’s more of a McCain Republican. Given her fundraising gap, it looks from today’s interaction with CNN like she’s decided she needs to be a lot more MAGA. The people who clap for own-the-libs stuff are often also willing to pony up a little cash to reward Republicans who are prone to it. And sure enough, this tweet from the Trump campaign with a donation link is circulating this afternoon:

She probably decided at some point in the past week that the next time CNN cornered her in a hallway on camera she’d seize the opportunity to call out the reporter, whoever he or she might be, and hope to cash in later. (Imagine the donations today if she had owned Acosta instead of Raju.) That may also explain why one of her staffers was inexplicably recording on her phone when the interaction took place on an otherwise uneventful walk through the Capitol’s hallways. The whole point of the insult was to create footage that could be monetized. McSally couldn’t guarantee that CNN would air their own version of the exchange so she had to engineer and post her own.

Here’s Raju at work elsewhere this morning, challenging Pelosi after she echoed Lev Parnas’s claim that Bill Barr is somehow implicated in the Ukraine saga. It’s not just Republicans who get questions that they don’t want from him.