John King aired a clip of David Axelrod's Face the Nation appearance and suggested that Axelrod said tea party protests were "unhealthy." But King did not air the question Axelrod was asked, which was about both the tea parties and Gov. Rick Perry's comments about secession.
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During the April 19 edition of CNN's State of the Union, host John King mischaracterized an exchange that occurred earlier that day between CBS' Face the Nation guest host Harry Smith and White House senior adviser David Axelrod. King claimed that Axelrod "was asked about these tax-day rallies, tea parties" and then played an edited clip of Axelrod saying, "I think any time that you have severe economic conditions, there is always an element of disaffection that can mutate into something that's unhealthy." King later suggested that Axelrod said that it is "unhealthy for an American to go out and hold a sign and say, "I think my taxes are too high.' " However, at no point in the show did King play a clip of the full exchange between Smith and Axelrod, in which Smith asked about both tea parties generally and comments by Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) regarding secession.
Smith and Axelrod had the following exchange on Face the Nation:
SMITH: What do you make of this spreading and very public disaffection with, not only the government, but especially the Obama administration -- the tea parties this week? You even have the governor of Texas even using the word secession? What -- should Texas be allowed to secede?
AXELROD: Well, I don't think that really warrants a serious response. I don't think most Texans were all that enthused by the governor's --
SMITH: But what about the first part of the question. This building disaffection --
AXELROD: -- by the governor's suggestion. Look, I think any time -- I think any time that you have severe economic conditions, there is always an element of disaffection that can mutate into something that's unhealthy.
SMITH: Is this unhealthy?
AXELROD: Well, we're in a -- this is a country where we value our liberties and our ability to express ourselves, and so far, these are expressions. Now, one thing I would say is, the thing that bewilders me is this president just cut taxes for 95 percent of the American people. So, I think the tea bags should be directed elsewhere, because he certainly understands the burden that people face.
From the April 19 edition of CNN's State of the Union:
KING: Well, a subset of the economy debate is taxes --
BILL BENNETT (CNN political contributor): Right.
KING: -- and Republicans have used higher taxes against Democrats for some time, and there were a bunch of events around the country this past Wednesday -- which was tax day, April 15 -- and a lot of people turned out to say they oppose this administration; they think, you know, it's going to raise taxes too much. They're arguing against the priorities of the Obama administration.
Mr. Axelrod, who we just heard a moment ago, senior adviser to the president, was asked about these tax day rallies, tea parties, on CBS, and he said this.
AXELROD [video clip]: I think any time that you have severe economic conditions, there is always an element of disaffection that can mutate into something that's unhealthy.
KING: James Carville, is it mutating into something unhealthy --
JAMES CARVILLE (CNN political contributor): No.
KING: -- for an American to go out and hold a sign and say, "I think my taxes are too high"?
CARVILLE: No. And I love David Axelrod. And by the way, most Democrats I know are delighted with this. We couldn't get enough of this coverage. I mean, when a guy comes up and he says, "How many of you make under $250,000 a year?" They go, "Yeah, he's -- you're getting your tax cut." And then, they booed him.
This was -- I think, if anything, it was harmless and somewhat damaging to Republicans. I couldn't -- the more that we cover this thing, and the more we -- and the average age of these things had to be 72.4. I mean, they had every old crank in the country out there. Then they would put a couple of, like, kids on the front of it. I mean, they got -- but, please, let's cover this more.
BENNETT: That's a smarter response than Axelrod's, but I don't think -- I don't think it's accurate. Yeah.
KING: For the specific to have a senior adviser to the president of the United States saying it's unhealthy.
KING: They were just --
KING: -- they're out protesting.
BENNETT: This goes right into the [Homeland Security Secretary Janet] Napolitano thing. Unhealthy? What's the next thing, federal agents looking down at us -- look, people want to let off steam, they let off steam. These things were mostly very positive. The problem was -- as we say in philosophy -- insufficient options. Media coverage: The different network coverage on this was just horrible.
But I wish they had had a little more focus to them. But I think that'll happen. Right now, Barack Obama -- we're in the first 100 days. He's blocking out the sun. I mean, the guy, everything he does, it's all about Obama. Republicans will have their moment.