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On the July 31 broadcast of her nationally syndicated radio show, Laura Ingraham -- who has attacked reporters stationed in Iraq for "report[ing] only on the IEDs [improvised explosive devices], only on the killings ... only on the reprisals," and for "reporting from hotel balconies" instead of in the field -- said CNN "emailed me" and "said, 'Will you fill in the 8 o'clock [p.m. ET] hour for a week?' " Paula Zahn Now currently occupies the 8 p.m. weeknight time slot on CNN, but host Paula Zahn is leaving the network, to be replaced ultimately by Campbell Brown. Ingraham is the second conservative radio personality that CNN has recruited to guest host a prime-time show during the 8 p.m. time slot. As Media Matters for America noted, Glenn Beck, whom CNN hired in 2006 to host a CNN Headline News program, filled in for Zahn from July 2-6.
Ingraham's attack on reporters stationed in Iraq came during an appearance on the March 21, 2006, edition of NBC's Today. Later that day, on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Ingraham stated that "before the [Today] segment began ... I actually was watching a report by their NBC reporter, Richard Engel, who was doing one of those from-the-balcony reports, reporting on the bombs going off, reporting on the difficulties in Iraq." She followed up these comments on the May 31, 2006, broadcast of her nationally syndicated radio show, stating:
And by the way, when I went on the Today show back in March to talk about the fact that it would be nice for the Today show to go to Iraq and do a show on a military base, and I brought up the hotel balconies, that was coming right off a Richard Engel report from a hotel balcony about the latest IEDs going off. The point of that is all the guys I talked to in Iraq were tired of it, and I was speaking for them.
In the wake of a car bomb explosion that killed two CBS News crew members -- cameraman Paul Douglas and freelance sound man James Brolan -- and severely wounded correspondent Kimberly Dozier, Ingraham asserted on the June 6, 2006, edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor that she was "surprised" that NBC president Steve Capus criticized her for her comments about what she called the "dinosaur media." She claimed she had said that reporters in Iraq should "go to a military base" and "just talk to the troops" when in fact, in her original comments, Ingraham added that reporters should "go out with the Iraqi military."
Additionally, while discussing CNN's offer on July 31, Ingraham said she was "not sure whether I should do it or not" because "lots of factors are in play, but just in principle." She further commented that she would "be up against [Fox News host Bill] O'Reilly. That'd be tough. Might be fun to just mess with the computers at CNN and see if I could put chewing gum under the seat and stuff." During an appearance on the June 1 edition of CNN's American Morning, Ingraham referred to "the liberal elites ... at CNN."
Some of Ingraham's other notable comments follow:
- As the blog Firedoglake first reported, on the November 7, 2006, edition of her radio show, Ingraham encouraged listeners to jam the phone lines of the Democratic Party's voter assistance hotline 1-888-DEM-VOTE. Ingraham said: "I want you to call it and I want you tell us what you get when you call 1-888-DEM-VOTE. They're on top of all of the shenanigans at the polling stations. One problem: you can't get through." She later added: "Let's keep 'dem' lines ringing." Firedoglake later reported that that the voter assistance hotline was "being flooded with calls from crank callers."
- On the June 27, 2004, edition of CNN's Reliable Sources, Ingraham challenged former President Bill Clinton's assertion on CNN's Larry King Live that nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh has said that former deputy White House counsel Vince Foster "was murdered in an apartment that belonged to the Clintons." Ingraham said: "I never heard Rush Limbaugh say anything of the like. And I'm certain he didn't say that. ... There are people on the right who were saying those things. Those things were reprehensible. I don't know anyone responsible who was saying that." However, according to the national media watchdog group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), during a 1994 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh said he had received a fax with "a bit of news ... that claims that Vince Foster was murdered in an apartment owned by Hillary Clinton." FAIR went on to report that "[a]fter he returned from a commercial break, Limbaugh began referring to the story as a 'rumor,' but continued to claim that the story was that 'the Vince Foster suicide was not a suicide.' "
From the July 31 broadcast of Talk Radio Network's The Laura Ingraham Show:
INGRAHAM: CNN called me up and asked me if I would fill in -- if I would think of -- they didn't call me up, they emailed me -- excuse me -- and said, "Will you fill in at the 8 o'clock hour for a week?" Would you consider doing a week some time because they have a number of months before Campbell Brown takes over the 8 p.m. slot. She's having a baby, and she's going to have the baby, I guess, and then do the show. And I'm not sure whether I should do it or not -- well, obviously lots of factors are in play, but just in principle. If all those other factors, all those other conditions --
MALE PRODUCER: Well, there is one factor that will be in play up against you there at 8 o'clock.
INGRAHAM: Oh, that's right. I'll be up against O'Reilly. That would be tough. Might be fun to just mess with the computers at CNN and see if I could put chewing gum under the seat and stuff. See if that would work out. But -- it's so -- I don't know, we'll see, we'll see. They've done some interesting segments and shows. I don't even know who the hosts are anymore. It's just a rotating cast of characters at 8 o'clock, and I don't know how -- I don't know how you can take four months off from competing with O'Reilly. How do you take four months off? You got to get a show on the air. You can't take four months off. But that's what they're doing. I mean this is -- What do I know? I'm just a radio host. I'm not a big television executive. I don't know anything.
From the June 1 edition of CNN's American Morning:
JOHN ROBERTS (host): Take a quick listen and we'll get you to react to it.
BUSH [video clip]: If you want to kill the bill, you don't want to do what's right for America. You can pick one little aspect out of it. You can use it to frighten people or you can show leadership and solve this problem once and for all.
ROBERTS: What do you think about that, Laura, the fact that he says that opponents of this bill are opposed to what's right for America?
INGRAHAM: Well, you know, it's absurd. I think it was a bad tactical decision for him to say that. The way to get people on your side is not to insult them, especially people in the conservative movement, who worked tirelessly to get him re-elected, and the president has been consistent on supporting this. You know, you have to give him credit on that. And, I've, I've never questioned his motives in pushing for this type of comprehensive reform. But to insult his base, I mean, I hope he thinks he's going to be saved by the liberal elites at, at CNN, John, because if, if he is, then, then I'll be wrong about this. But I think it's kind of silly.
ROBERTS: Excuse me, what was that last comment?
INGRAHAM: What? How did -- you know, by the way, John, how did you introduce me for this segment before the break? "The outspoken Laura Ingraham." Do you guys -- do you guys introduce liberal commentators that way? I'm going to check.