The Washington Post's Greg Sargent has noted criticism of CNN for its decision to air Rep. Michele Bachmann's response to President Obama's State of the Union address. While it might seem surprising that CNN is the only network that plans to broadcast Bachmann's speech, it really isn't.
Tea Party Express spokesman Mark Williams appeared on CNN numerous times despite his long history of outrageous statements, like claiming that President Obama was "Tiger Woodsing" a "mistress" while the country "was slipped a roofie when Obama was sliding into its pants." Williams finally went too far in writing a blog post portraying blacks as lazy and NAACP leader Ben Jealous as supporting the repeal of civil-rights laws so that "massa" would again take care of blacks, which eventually resulted in his termination as spokesman for the group and his becoming a pariah in the rest of the Tea Party movement. However, CNN's John King gave Williams an opportunity to explain himself and would have had him on again if he hadn't canceled. And even then, a CNN blog post a month later let Williams try to explain away calling New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg a "Judenrat."
CNN has also provided fawning coverage of the Tea Party Express' various cross-country bus trips, coming close to rivaling Fox News in that department. And the network is teaming up with the group to host a debate for 2012 Republican presidential candidates later this year.
CNN is quite tight with the Tea Party Express, even though it's more of a cash cow for the Republican strategists who created it than a grassroots organization. But CNN hasn't exactly seen fit to explain that to its viewers.