CNN anchors furious at McSally for calling their reporter a "liberal hack"

“Furious” is a relative term. Wolf Blitzer seems biologically incapable of expressing emotion but he does offer in the first clip below that McSally’s insult was “disgusting.”

Meanwhile Chris “Fredo” Cuomo sounds like a DNC spokesman in the second clip, going so far as to scold Arizonans that they couldn’t possibly elect a person like her to fill St. John McCain’s Senate seat after this.

Watch 90 seconds or so of that from where it picks up to get the gist, then read on. You know what the funniest part is? This is exactly the reaction McSally wanted from yesterday’s clumsy orchestrated stunt.

A smart point from Noah Rothman:

From the moment the exchange with CNN reporter Manu Raju happened it was transparently obvious that McSally had set out to insult him (or anyone from CNN) in hopes of creating a viral moment that could be monetized on the right. One of her aides was recording on a cell phone before Raju even asked his question. Her Democratic opponent, Mark Kelly, has consistently outraised her and currently has nearly twice as much cash as McSally does in his campaign war chest. She appears to have decided at some point recently that she’d take a shot at Republicans’ favorite media antagonist, CNN, and hope that it earns her some own-the-libs cred with Trump fans. And more importantly, some own-the-libs donations.

She wasn’t subtle about it either:

The best-case scenario for McSally was that Fox News would take an interest in the incident, which it has (no doubt with quiet encouragement from Team Martha), and that Trump himself might then take an interest and applaud her on Twitter, boosting her MAGA cred and new donations further. That hasn’t happened yet as I write this, but stay tuned. What she probably didn’t expect was that CNN would help her out by airing its own footage of the insult throughout the day, forcing it before an even bigger audience. You would think that if the network were intent on doing that they would at least take pains to contextualize it as the cynical fundraising stunt that it is — McSally’s facing a tough race in Arizona, she’s in a deep hole money-wise, her shot at Raju is red meat aimed at solving that problem. Instead they’re taking it mostly at face value. Look how thuggish these Trump-era Republicans are to reporters! Stupid.

But it’s not a total win for McSally either. The incident was cringey precisely because it felt so forced. If a partisan pugilist like Jim Jordan or Matt Gaetz had called a reporter a “liberal hack” it’d at least be in character. McSally isn’t normally prone to that sort of thing, though, and Raju isn’t a prominent target for righty criticism the way a dozen other CNN anchors and panelists are. To lunge at him that way seemed strange. He didn’t even ask a hacky question that might justify her annoyance; he asked which way she was leaning on calling witnesses at Trump’s trial. Some Republicans couldn’t help but groan at how heavy-handed she was in picking the fight:

McSally doesn’t speak “populist” and it shows, like when Cory Booker tries to emote over some left-wing grievance. Some pols can sell it, some can’t. Gotta be who you are and take the consequences on Election Day.

The stunt with Raju earned her some rare and valuable face time with Fox’s 10 p.m. audience last night, as it was designed to do, but that didn’t go completely according to plan either. She and Laura Ingraham had some own-the-libs laughs at CNN’s expense, but then Ingraham … repeated Raju’s question to her. No, seriously, Senator, where are you on calling witnesses? Ingraham knew the game McSally was playing with CNN, trying to duck a thorny issue by pounding the table instead, and to her credit refused to let McSally do it. But it’s a silly question in the aftermath of the “liberal hack” incident: Pretty clearly McSally feels her best chance at reelection is going all-in on Trumpism and hoping there’s still enough of a Republican majority in Arizona to drag her over the finish line next fall, particularly with Trump topping the ballot. She’ll vote however he wants her to vote at the trial on any given issue.