American Morning

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May 8th, 2009
06:42 AM ET

Commentary: Wingnuts of the week

Editor's note: John P. Avlon is the author of Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics and writes a weekly column for The Daily Beast. Previously, he served as Chief Speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun.
[cnn-photo-caption image= caption= "Former Rep. Cynthia McKinney (L) and current Rep. Michele Bachmann (R)."]

I'm trying out a new segment on "American Morning" called “Wingnuts of the Week.” It builds on a simple premise – the far-right and the far-left are equally insane.

What’s a Wingnut? It’s someone on the far-right wing or far-left wing of American politics – the professional partisans and the unhinged activists – the folks who always try to divide rather than unite. In our polarized two party system, they have disproportionate influence and too often define the terms of debate. With this segment, I'm going to try and take that power back.

In this first week, I'm naming two charter members of the Wingnut Hall of Fame who recently reared their heads in the news once again. I want to be an equal opportunity offender, punching both left and right, so both are members of Congress – one current and one former – and both are defended in their respective echo chambers on the far-right and far-left.

So drum roll, please: The Wingnuts of the Week for our inaugural edition are Michele Bachmann and Cynthia McKinney.

Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann first became nationally known in the late innings of campaign ’08, when she told Chris Matthews, “I am very concerned he [Barack Obama] may have anti-American views.” Undeterred by common sense or common decency, she followed that with a call to investigate all members of Congress for anti-American views. The media fallout made her, if anything, more beloved by conservatives. She was subsequently selected to be the master of ceremonies at the Conservative Political Action Committee’s Presidential Banquet. But the howlers have kept coming – recently put in a handy compendium by my colleagues at the Daily Beast.

This past week, in an interview with she took another leap too far, saying, “I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat president, Jimmy Carter.”

Two things: First, the bemused reach for causality between pandemics and Democratic presidents is a great illustration of the Wingnut’s impulse to blame everything bad in the world on the opposite party. Second, she got her facts wrong. It was under the administration of Republican President Gerald Ford that swine flu last reared its porcine head.

But Bachmann’s had chronic trouble with facts, including a recent congressional floor speech in which she again confused a Republican for a Democrat, claiming that it was FDR who signed the “Hoot Smawley” tariffs that helped propel the USA from a recession into the Great Depression. The "Smoot Hawley" Act was signed by Republican President Hoover. To round out her week’s trifecta, Bachmann reached for an awkward metaphor when describing the generational theft of today’s unprecedented deficits and debt, saying “it’s the mother of all ironies… that the kids who voted en masse for Barack Obama are the ones being fitted with shackles and chains.” The “irony” of slavery metaphors to describe the Obama generation? Really? Really.

On the left, the Wingnut of the Week is the former six-term Democratic Congresswoman and 2008 Green Party Presidential Candidate, Cynthia McKinney. She’s a 9/11 conspiracy theorist who assaulted a Capitol Hill cop and whose father blamed “Jews” for her congressional defeat. Her exploits have been detailed in pages ranging from The Weekly Standard to Slate. Bottom line: Cynthia McKinney is what far-right conservatives imagine a far-left liberal sounds like.

McKinney’s been uncharacteristically quiet since the election, but she resurfaced in an April 30th radio interview for an internet station known as “the information underground,” which had previously featured such friendly topics as "Jewish Domination and the World as We Know It", "The Holocaust Scam", and "Jews Israel and 9/11" – to name just a very few. The hour-long interview – brought to light via the blog was a veritable cattle call of McKinney’s greatest hits: 9/11 conspiracies, spies sabotaging her campaign, and the dominance of pro-Israel lobbies on all but one percent on the “535” members of congress as evidenced by vote totals for “anti-Sudan” legislation, by which she apparently means attempts to stop the genocide in Darfur.

When the host of the show confides that “DC is a Zionist occupied government,” there is not a hint of objection, nor when White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is described as having “Jew nationality and Jew loyalties.” McKinney just continues on in even tones, thoughtfully finding time to compare herself to Malcom X, Martin Luther King and – my personal favorite – Rosa Parks.

“She couldn’t find employment from any of the black institutions in Montgomery who shunned her because of the heat that came-down on her because she took a stand… Well it’s no different what happened to them to what happens to me on a daily basis.”

Beyond the strange tendency of some folks on the far left to reflexively compare themselves to Rosa Parks (a sense of historic perspective is not always a liberal strong suit), what’s most interesting about this resurfacing of McKinney is that it illustrates the way that the apparent opposites on the outer-reaches of politics tend to become mirror images of each-other, circling back to the same swamp of intolerance, conspiracies, and a rigid definition-in-opposition understandable only to fellow true believers.

If you’re a political Independent or a centrist – and frustrated by the way that the extremes of left and right dominate our debates, hijack our parties, and artificially polarize our nation – then I want this segment to act as your advocate. I want you to join the conversation – give us your suggestions to who should be named the next Wingnuts of the Week.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Avlon.

Filed under: John Avlon • Wingnuts of the week
soundoff (106 Responses)
  1. Dave S

    If anyone is interested in the truth about Cynthia McKinney, watch the film "American Blackout", which is available for free on youtube. If you're not interested in the truth, I don't know how anything I write here can change your mind.

    And in response to the author: Cynthia McKinney does have something in common with Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.: in their time, the corporate media also called them far-left nutjobs.

    May 17, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  2. Sara L

    A good idea but you have a definition issue. A "Wingnut" is a far-right conservative crazy person. You can't define someone on the left as a "wingnut". You define a far-left liberal crazy person as a "moonbat".

    Do your research before coming up with the title!

    May 15, 2009 at 7:09 am |
  3. Chris V

    A wingnut is some loony person on the far right. The term for a loony person on the far left is moonbat.

    May 14, 2009 at 12:05 am |
  4. Immunologist

    To the denizens of the blogosphere, I believe that "wingnut" is the term used to designate a right wing wacko. The term "moonbat" is usually used to tar the stridently vocal and cognitively impaired on the left wing.

    May 13, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  5. Steve D

    You have the vocabulary wrong. A "wingnut" is a crazy on the far right. The left wing of the species is known as a "moonbat".

    Bachman is certainly a wingnut. She is often the mouthpiece for the wackiest fever dreams from the right wing crazies. On the other hand, McKinney is just frack'n nuts. Her statements usually don't reflect the nuts on the radical left.

    May 13, 2009 at 10:11 am |
  6. Adrienne

    Hey, you missed reporting on Bachmann's unbelievably dumb defense on the floor of Congress of carbon dioxide as "natural" in the atmosphere and therefore good.

    May 13, 2009 at 9:53 am |
  7. Adrienne

    Should be "Moonbat and Wingnut of the Week"

    Moonbats are the lefty equivalents of Wingnuts.

    May 13, 2009 at 9:46 am |
  8. Aubrey Immelman

    Excellent feature. I cross-posted the feature and added some video segments at

    My suggestion for the next Wingnuts of the Week: Comedians Wanda Sykes and Rush Limbaugh.

    May 11, 2009 at 11:11 pm |
  9. Disciple of "Bob"

    If intellectual heavyweights like Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and Bobby Jindal are supposed to be "stars" in the GOP, I guess it's pretty clear that the GOP has no interest in winning a presidential election ever again.

    And when they continue to lose election after election, they'll play the "victim" card and blame the media, Hollywood, anyone and everthing but themselves.

    May 11, 2009 at 5:03 pm |
  10. Elvira

    I love the title and the opportunity it gives citizens to share their differences of opinions concerning the basic initiatives of each party. It's sad to know that we can't get out of the two party lock we have in politics as though life is black and white. We are a diversified nation and should not elect politicians based on party preference. Training our children to be presidents as it is with any career is preferable to me.. Where we have careered presidents to help as a round table with a leading president and staff to be voted into office. Hopefully, this will keep the self-interest of each politician from coming into play.
    Where our elected officials are not able to promote their own agendas for their own profit after their terms are over. If we keep the present system, I would like to see the schools practice the process more intensively starting in Jr. High. Thank you, you all are fantastic.

    May 11, 2009 at 7:15 am |
  11. Steven L.

    The fact that you're being attacked by the Hard Right for calling Bachmann a "wingnut," and you're being attacked by the hard Left for calling McKinney a
    "wingnut," tells me that you're on the right track.

    Let's hope you continue to be attacked by the ideologues on both sides.
    You'll be doing America a great service, by standing up for those of us who are neither.

    May 10, 2009 at 9:33 pm |
  12. Thomas

    CNN – youre so in the tank for the left its sick.
    this article was an attempt to be fair and balanced, but it fails for making the assumption that one right winger was as nuts as a left winger.

    May 10, 2009 at 7:36 pm |
  13. David Mycroft

    I think it's a great idea to expose the extremes on both sides. What I'd like to see is the emergence of a strong centrist party. Let the Republicans have their kooky anti-science religious nuts and let the Democrats have their socialists, and let a common sense majority rule the center.

    I would suggest Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich as the next loony pair.

    May 10, 2009 at 5:31 pm |
  14. JackieBlue

    Hey Mr. Avlon, when ya piss off the anti-Semites, you know you're doing a great job. Keep up the good work!

    May 10, 2009 at 8:23 am |
  15. Frank Monzo

    Congratulations and GREAT job. I'm a Democrat, but part of the 70% of Americans who are are centrists. Its time for both parties to move closer to the center so that we can finally stop being defined by the "wing-nuts". I can see from some of the comments that they don't even know who they are, but they make a whole lot of noise, so the pols listen and we end up having to choose which "wing-nut" is closer aligned to our philosophy. Its time for the anger, vitriol and venom that is spewed by the "wing-nuts", and wrapped around lies and half-truths to end.

    May 9, 2009 at 9:24 pm |
  16. Larry Miller

    Nice try at college humor. Centrists have no ability to inspire anyone to do anything but poke fun at people who are actually making things happen. Their biggest problem is that the agree to everything and stand for nothing. Your analysis of Michelle Bachmann's statements, if correct, could be more correctly applied to the material coming from the teleprompter of the US and the guy who reads it. As for Cynthia McKinney, her actions just show the people who keep re-electing her to be a bunch of fools.

    Why not include the people of FoxNews as WingNuts... oh yeah, they are kicking CNNs butt ratings.

    May 9, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  17. Rob in New York

    John, this is a great idea. These days, it's all too easy for extremists on both sides to get more attention than they deserve for some of the things they say, and (all too often) it becomes easy for people to rely on these warped views of reality.

    One suggestion to consider:
    – Expand the segment, even if by just another minute or two. It's one thing to play a comment they said and say it's a "wingnut" statement, but it would be better to provide the reason WHY the comment is so foolish.

    You pointed out Michele Bachman's comment as being a wingnut statement on the air, but only in your above blog post did you explain why (she referenced swine flu's first appearance to that of a Democratic administration when it was in fact a Republican administration, which means she is not only wrong on the facts, but her entire premise [bad things happen under the Democratic administrations] was totally incorrect... at least for this particular example)

    In any case, keep up the good work, and congratulations on a very clever and enjoyable idea!

    May 9, 2009 at 2:37 pm |
  18. w3

    To Ted in Japan, "you're welcome!!"

    May 9, 2009 at 2:19 pm |
  19. Don Taylor

    Is it true that because liberalism is a progressive mental disorder that left wingnuts out number the right wingnuts 10-1?

    May 9, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  20. exdeadhead

    John Avlon is a metrosexual pansy and his opinions need to be understood as coming from that perspective. It's good to know that there are centrists within the metrosexual pansy community.

    May 9, 2009 at 12:16 pm |
  21. Poncho

    What sensational garbage you have written up.

    the former congresswoman is clearly out of touch with reality, and you equate the current congresswoman as an equal, but on the other side?

    Your intellectual laziness is obvious.

    May 9, 2009 at 12:13 pm |
  22. Southern Yankee

    Great feature, and I don't even watch CNN. I nominate Chris Matthews and Michael Savage as the next left and right wingnuts, respectively.

    May 9, 2009 at 12:03 pm |
  23. Troy Riser

    Comparing Bachman and McKinney is a great disservice to Bachman. Had you wanted to make an extreme right/left comparison, Pat Buchanan, who–last I heard–still claims to be a conservative and possibly even a Republican, would've been more credible and certainly more accurate. Buchanan's attacks on AIPAC and the influence of the 'Israeli lobby', his vociferous defense of various aging, on-the-run SS concentration guards, his admiration for Adolf Hitler, and his ties with extreme right groups in Europe puts him right up there with McKinney. And as it happens, Bachman is right about President Obama, whose policies and tactics, as evinced by his threats to unleash his pet attack dogs of the press on automotive debt holders, are more in line with socialist strongmen such as Chavez and Ortega than with any American tradition.

    May 9, 2009 at 11:51 am |
  24. what a joke

    Epic fail. Call me back when you put up Ted Turner as the left wing nut.

    May 9, 2009 at 11:27 am |
  25. joe dexter

    Hey John, The people spoke and kicked Mckinney out of office along with her "ten word" vocabulary. Last time I checked, Bachman was still in office. There's no comparison between the two. You've obviously been spending too much time in New York City.

    May 9, 2009 at 10:50 am |
  26. Ed

    I think its more appropriate to term the left wing loonies "Moonbats" while terming the righties "Wingnuts"

    May 9, 2009 at 10:49 am |
  27. Ted in Japan

    "Wingnuts of the Week"? This seems to be predicated on a false idea that centrists, by virtue of their moderation, are correct, while anyone who strays from the center is wrong. Logic, reason and good values can be deemed radical if the folks in the middle reject logic, reason and good values.

    And to David Christie, who wrote:

    "Comparing Cynthia McKinney to the babbling bimbo, Bachman – who claims Democrats are “un-American” – is disingenuous in the least and nothing but a sinister pro-Zionist propaganda smear through association."

    You're mis-characterizing Bachman's comment. She was defining certain ideas as being un-American and not criticizing Liberals as being un-American (in the sense that they are traitors). There are many examples of truly American ideas and values that Liberals are against. For example, Libs reject the idea of American Exceptionalism and embrace Multi-culturalism. Libs devalue our citizenship by calling illegal immigrants "Undocumented Americans". Libs ignore the lines that define American territory when they call for open borders. America's future depends on our ability to procure and consume coal, oil and nuclear energy. When Libs target all three industries for destruction, they can't possibly call themselves "Pro-American". The same is true when they want America to answer to some sort of international test that places our national security in the hands of the U.N.

    But the clearest example is this: When folks on the Right get together for a rally, they chant "U.S.A.!" over and over again. We celebrate our country, it's traditions and its core values. We love America as it is and don't want to change it. When folks on the Left get together for a rally, they chant "O-Ba-Ma!" over and over again. And when he promises to "fundamentally transform" America into a different country, they crowds cheer even louder. The Right welcomes our fighting forces with open arms and calls them heroes. The Left spits on them, kicks them off of campuses and calls them baby killers.

    How can anyone claim that the Left is anything but un-American when everything they do or say is a slander against America and an assault on its very existence?
    Thank you for reading this.

    May 9, 2009 at 10:37 am |
  28. ardan

    CNN is a wingnut on the left, so how can they be used to write this article...?

    May 9, 2009 at 10:35 am |
  29. Kermit

    The latter comments nailed Mr. Avlon and his attempt to equate Rep Bachmann to the insane McKinney. A cheap, very cheap attack. News? CNN is rarely news.
    It is interesting that in this article, the author chose "Wingnut" for the title. The term wingnut is almost universally applied to conservatives, while the term "Moonbat" refers to the unicorn riding koolaid drinkers on the Left. Thus, by using "Wingnut" Mr. Avlon conveniently (and subliminally) equates all extremisim with conservative viewpoint.
    You are no "moderate", Mr. Avlon. You are as biased as Dan Rather. Ted Turner would be proud.

    May 9, 2009 at 10:28 am |
  30. Jenn

    CNN – please, let this segment be the moment when you woke up and realized that you are undermining everything journalism is supposed to be in order to bolster your ratings. You say you target people who divides us, but the comments above make it clear this segment will have the opposite effect. Who are you to say who is a "wingnut" and who is not? That is quite presumptuous of you to know who is "reasonable" and who is not, and it is a power that open to gross manipulation. Once you start labeling ideas as "dangerous" or "divisive," you've started down a road to censorship.
    You compound this error by then equating all liberals or all conservatives with the views of your "wingnuts." "The media fallout made [Bachman], if anything, more beloved by conservatives." How do you know, Mr. Moderate? Did you do a poll? Do they all now believe Congress and the President are un-American? It's unclear from your piece. The same phenomenon occurs in the McKinney bit: "a sense of historic perspective is not always a liberal strong suit." Don't you think that's a bit of, um, a GROSS generalization?! How is this supposed to unite us?
    The truth is most people have SOME view of politics that leans a little left or a little right, though few are extreme as your examples. But you make those moderates feel guilty for feeling the way they do by excoriating those who share some of their views and then generalizing that criticism to ALL who share those views. You should all be ashamed of yourselves at CNN.

    May 9, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  31. Carolynn

    John, here's some recommendations for your colum for Leftwing Wingnuts who are the most polirizing figures in America.

    1. Nancy Pelosi
    2. Barney Frank
    3. Harry Reid
    4. Patrick Lehy
    5. Henry Waxman
    6. Dennis K.
    7. Howard Dean
    8. Charlie Wrangel
    9. Chuck Shummer
    10. James Carvell
    11. Paul Bagalia

    May 9, 2009 at 10:21 am |
  32. Jack in Charleston

    Wow – If you don't think articles like this are bad for CNN, you are insane.

    I saw the "Coverage" of the tea parties. If this is your follow up attempt to not look totally biased towards the democrat side of the aisle you are failing miserably. You see – though you brought former rep McKinney into the story – she was history. Bachman isn't – and you are dragging her through the mud. After the election "Coverage" and the "Coverage" of the last few years (8) – I guess I shouldn't wonder why the seated official in this piece is a Republican. Also – given your "Coverage", you shouldn't be surprised why Fox news is kicking your ass in the ratings.

    I will now stop watching CNN and HNN. I have already totally quit supporting NBC – won't watch any of thier news and very few of thier shows. You see – the Democrat Party has adopted all of the platforms of the Socialist Party and with CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC and NPR all beating the drum for the Democrats – you are in essence compromising any journalistic standards and working to help destroy this nation.

    To hell with you . You serve not as the fourth estate, but rather to undermine the country. Those of us who are not asleep see what you are doing and we will not forget.

    May 9, 2009 at 10:08 am |
  33. K

    Is this the first crack in CNN's love affair with the left?

    Is Obama next week's left wing nut?

    May 9, 2009 at 9:46 am |
  34. creeping

    Wow and CNN actually leaves the comments section open long enough for folks who oppose their tabloid worthy non-sense to post comments? What's going on – Oh wait, they threw one of their own, McKinney, under the bus and now they are defending her...classic

    Jonny Avalon better watch out because McKinney will bitch slap him just like she did the Capitol police officer who asked her to go through a metal detector.

    May 9, 2009 at 9:43 am |
  35. Aylios

    A great idea and an added perk of this is that it makes so many of the commenters on this forum to come out and openly tell us which of the two wings they are helping to bolt down. A little introspection on their part may be in order here, but I'm not holding my breath.

    May 9, 2009 at 9:43 am |
  36. Laverne

    The comparison is ridiculous. The attempts to malign Bachman have been ongoing in the media for quite some time now. This is just another attempt by an Obama loving network to diminish a sitting Republican congresswoman by comparing her to an ex-congresswoman.

    If you are going to play the wingnut game, at least use a comparative example - more appropriate would have been David Duke to McKinney.

    Stupid segment; clearly MSNBC is driving CNN's programming decisions.

    May 9, 2009 at 9:27 am |
  37. kimball stacey

    Your choice of terminology shows bias itself. 'Wingnut' generally refers to those out on the fringes of the right, whereas 'Moonbat' is the preferred term for those on the left. So why don't you call it 'Wingnuts and Moonbats'?

    May 9, 2009 at 8:47 am |
  38. Jeff

    "It’s someone on the far-right wing or far-left wing of American politics – the professional partisans and the unhinged activists – the folks who always try to divide rather than unite."-

    If CNN is serious, then guess this will become a column on Queen Pelosi and her new court. 🙂

    Never mind, because I noticed CNN didn't even bother to highlight a single Democrat politician that is actually in the office now for its first article on this subject, so if this is any indication of where this column is going it will be a complete joke. Oh and I bet $10 CNN stays clear of the President and his staff also, but highlights some from the ex-Presidents staff. .

    May 9, 2009 at 8:38 am |
  39. dennisl59

    "Wingnuts of the Week"...I'm sure that these are selected during the concall with the Administration and the others of the Gangster Dictatorship Cabal.

    May 9, 2009 at 8:35 am |
  40. w3

    This continues to prove that the people who run CNN are severely emotionally stunted. I have no idea why MSM, in their desperation to compete with the internet, have become as immature and unserious as most blogs.

    Instead of copying blogs, why not elevate yourselves, shed your advocacy journalism which is driving viewers and advertisers away, and go back to investigative news? It would be nice if a "reporter" at CNN actually did something other than parrot what she or he read on Huffington Post.

    May 9, 2009 at 8:20 am |
  41. bc3b

    I wasn't aware anyone watchee CNN any more. Aren't its ratings even lower than MSNBC's?

    How can a newtork with "superstars" like Joke Cafferty, Rick Sanchez and Roland Martin possibly fail?

    May 9, 2009 at 8:16 am |
  42. Claude

    I see that several candidates for the wingnut award are busy presenting their case in this forum.

    May 9, 2009 at 8:15 am |
  43. Deb

    why don't you just report the news and let us decide who is nuts?
    I really don't need your slanted analysis; thanks.

    May 9, 2009 at 8:02 am |
  44. T. M. Ergin

    Give it up before you hurt yourselves further.
    This is a bad idea. A very, very, bad idea.

    Or will VP Joe Biden be next for his swine flu comments, and his comments about Roosevelt on TV talking about the Depression ... in 1929?

    May 9, 2009 at 7:57 am |
  45. Biasedgirl

    The fact that you would suggest that Bauchmann belongs in the same category as McKinney, tells me that this "new feature" is just another way for you to take shots at Conservatives.

    May 9, 2009 at 7:49 am |
  46. Oliver

    Sad . . . and lame. Gots to entertain. It is very apparent, as mentioned by another, that this format is a convenient TOOL. Clearly you think your readers are idiots. Well guess what . . . we're not.

    May 9, 2009 at 7:40 am |
  47. mark

    Cynthia McKinney is a wacko. Michele Bachman loves our country and stands up to wackos like McKinney and Matthews. Sorry, but CNN is going the route of MSNBC. Both are tanking in the ratings, yet continue to pander to people like MCKINNEY! LOL. If they had an ounce of sense, they'd stop spinning and pandering to the lefties and cater to the center-right AKA majority. Contrary to the MSM's spin, this is a center-right nation, not center-left, not left – CENTER-RIGHT. If ACORN and Obama's Census doesn't rig the system, you're going to see us speak up loudly in 2010 and 2012 and CNN will continue to be less and less of a factor.

    May 9, 2009 at 7:32 am |
  48. James S

    This is the kind of reporting that helps cnn rival air america in attracting viewers/listeners. I don't know Bachman but either she's right about obamasama being anti-American or he's an incredible buffoon. In fact he's both.

    May 9, 2009 at 7:05 am |
  49. Tony

    CNN is the wing-nut of media.

    May 9, 2009 at 6:48 am |
  50. tyrone

    I just want to know one thing.Who would you compare with Obama?The most liberal senator in the senate at the time.Went to a radical leftist racist church for 20 years and had his first political coming out party at former terrorists william ayers house.Theres more!!!Anyway I would love to know what the Liberal media such as CNN would compare Obama to.

    May 9, 2009 at 5:38 am |
  51. warnick68

    Try again.
    This feature is a fail.

    May 9, 2009 at 5:27 am |
  52. pat

    Frankly, you are comparing a racist, dictatorial, bully to an uneducated person who means well. I see a great deal of difference, I suspect the real problem is, you do not.

    May 9, 2009 at 2:47 am |
  53. Rocky

    What a complete waste of time this new section is, either way you look at it.

    CNN is grasping for any kind of stunt they think will appear "newsy", when in fact, it is pseudo-journalism, heavy on the pseudo.

    The value judgments expressed by the premise of the "wingnuts" segment is just that, and not worth wasting air-time for or for viewers to be insulted by. No buying it and it will accelerate CNN's spiral down into poor ratings.

    Wake up CNN, the only way you will regain viewer-ship is to return to real , unbiased journalism.

    May 9, 2009 at 1:46 am |
  54. Bonnie

    Um, is CNN ever going to get back to reporting the news? Or is real journalism truly dead?

    May 9, 2009 at 1:25 am |
  55. Max Bock

    Poor CNN, you just can't avoid inserting even the most subtle kinds of bias in your analyses, can you? Let me get this straight: according to the analysis, Bachman is a certifiable nutcase, but Cynthia McKinney is only "what far-right conservatives" IMAGINE "a far-left liberal sounds like." No, if Bachman is a nutcase, then so is McKinney. That was the point of the article. No imagination required. But you just couldn't resist a dig at those crazy conservatives. So, to translate: Bachman, right-wing, most definitely nuts. McKinney, left-wing, and she's probably what you conservatives think of as nuts, as we don't really know any politically conservative people, nor do we care to. Nice try, CNN.

    May 9, 2009 at 12:57 am |
  56. Marla

    How about Jeannine Garofalo??? Or is she too much of a nut to be in this section?

    May 9, 2009 at 12:51 am |
  57. Doug

    How about you add President Obama to the mix. He apparently has no knowledge of the history of England using torture under Churchill. And, he's all about nationalizing medicine, banking and manufacturing. Sounds pretty "wingnut" to me. Or, you could...wait for it....wait for it...actually be a journalist and report the frickin' news instead of offering me your lame opinion. That and a buck will get me a cup of coffee.

    May 9, 2009 at 12:47 am |
  58. joe

    "Wingnuts of the week" a novel idea, where is Susan Roesgen, or would that be WINGNUT OF THE MONTH, or maybe Ted Turner, he could be the WINGNUT OF THE PAST 20 YEARS. CNN is just out right disgusting.

    May 9, 2009 at 12:44 am |

    Why is CNN so hateful?

    Could it be that they have no ideas and have no clue of how to prop up an incompetent Obama administration?

    CNN we are on to you ABC, CBS, NBC and the rest of the MSM

    May 9, 2009 at 12:32 am |
  60. Sean

    Trying to become MSDNC light is not going to pull your ratings out of the crapper. Cynthia McKinney is a facist traitor and Michele Bachman is a patriot speaking truth to power. Your network is a network for the Nazi party. 1984 is here and you are the man on the TV screen.

    May 9, 2009 at 12:31 am |
  61. E. O'Neal

    This is a transparent attempt to assassinate the character of a respectable Republican congresswoman by comparing her to a defeated Democrat whom even leftwing nuts consider an idiot. Next week, for balance, compare Chuck Schumer to David Duke.

    May 9, 2009 at 12:30 am |
  62. Jane56

    Good points, Chris in NJ.

    I was just trying to predict which "wingnuts" CNN will name next week. Probably Savage, Limbaugh or Beck. Left-wing will probably be some obscure person in the hinterlands we've never heard of. Can't endanger any sitting dem congress persons or senators! The powers that be at CNN wouldn't like that! Could be Cindy Sheehan or George Galloway or Peta activist.

    And by the way, you people in Minn-6 are all right-wing loons according to CNN. I'd wear that as a badge of honor.

    May 9, 2009 at 12:16 am |
  63. Phillip

    Michelle Bachmann is not a wingnut. She shouldn't apologize for saying there are some Un-American people in America. Including elected officials. (Because someone is elected, they automatically don't want to harm this country?) They do want to harm this country. I don't think her comment is directed at well-intentioned liberals who are willing to honestly debate an issue. The flack about the slavery comment is undeserved because her comment is dead on. Dependence on your government for everyday needs IS slavery.

    Did Keith Olbermann write this crap, because like him, you haven't analyze anything but the vocabulary of her statement. Sure, she might have had a "rhetorical flourish" once or twice, but that doesn't deserve to be compared to Cynthia McKinney!

    McKinney is akin to the Westboro Church loonies, and is no longer an elected official (thank goodness!). I'll expect to see liar Nancy Pelosi any day now... Oh wait. This segment/column is stupid and I don't watch CNN.

    May 8, 2009 at 11:48 pm |
  64. Sheila

    You know what's a hoot? Cynthia McKinney thinking that she is above showing her credentials. Also, liberals thinking they aren't a bunch of racists. When was the last time a liberal looked at the abortion rate for African Americans? Good grief. You'd think any normal person would look at that rate and say "hey, something ain't right here." Why are so many African American women having abortions? And WHY is that okay? It is NOT okay. Where is Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton? Or any leader that cares about the African American culture? Just sickening. Stand up for yourselves. Let's find a better adoption procedure. Stop aborting leaders, scientists, surgeons, nurses, teachers, etc.

    May 8, 2009 at 11:40 pm |
  65. Amos

    This is a good idea and I appreciate the reality of political nut-jobbery on either side of the spectrum.

    A person will always tend to see the other side's extremists as more reprehensible than his own (I'm conservative), but doesn't the lefty in your comparison article come across as somewhat more crazy than the righty? One's a full-bore anti-Semite whackjob who assaults police, the other accuses Obama of having anti-American tendencies or says something erroneous and stupid about the flue.

    As for the unprecedented, multi-trillion deficits, who knows what disasters loom as a result of those? Shouldn't allot of people, right or left, be seriously concerned? Who's going to pay them back?

    Obama associated with Ayers and Wight, two virulent America haters, out of political expediency. At the least that shows him to be a cynic, but is it really unreasonable to 'suspect', (and that's all she said), that to some degree he sympathies with their views? That he has in common with a great many college-educated leftists, a basic dislike and distrust of America that arises from leftist ideology, not personal experiences in their pampered, over-privileged lives?

    Both are kinda stupid, but only one's a real nut.

    May 8, 2009 at 11:38 pm |
  66. Feo Amante

    Great concept. Great idea! Too long in coming but I'm glad it's finally here!

    Stay on topic though with politicians first and political activists second. The world is full of various political commentators and if you go after those types then it's like movie reviewers critiquing other movie reviewers.

    May 8, 2009 at 11:37 pm |
  67. jb

    Sadly CNN has sunk to "if you can't beat em, join em". Nothing informative and news worthy can come from this ridiculous segment. It encourages polarization and looks like a desperate grab for ratings.

    May 8, 2009 at 11:37 pm |
  68. Henry

    Why are CNN"s ratings in the crapper? Gee, I don't know. How about not talking to me like I'm a four year old. I don't need you to specify what dumb/insane people do. Just report the news, please.

    May 8, 2009 at 11:35 pm |
  69. Bitsy

    Wow, I'd say that McKinney as Wingnut is more Wingnuttier than Bachman. McKinney's actions and words are more prejudiced and paranoid. Things Bachman says that you quote are things that are left open to interpretation and context.

    May 8, 2009 at 11:10 pm |
  70. AmericanVet

    Ms. Bachman is correct when she says Obama has anti-American views. When has he ever pronounced all the good this nation has done for the people of the world. How many nations are free now because of the U.S.? He spouts some of the same retoric that Rev. Wright liked to blame the U.S. for, so Obama must have been paying attention to him for the 20 years he attended his congregation. All he wants to do is blame us for all the worlds problems. The media will not do their job. They don't investigate and report news like REAL journalists USED to do. They issue something that is supposed to be objective and hope you believe their Commy slant to the news. I guess the role model for journalists now must be Pravda.

    May 8, 2009 at 11:10 pm |
  71. Chris in NJ

    ROFLMAO@ the comments on here defending McKinney saying that she really WAS the target of a Zionist conspiracy! That tells you right there what kind of people watch CNN and troll its blogs... no one on here is defending Bachman's or any other right-winger's comments, but they come crawling out of the wood work to defend McKinney, one of the biggest stark-raving-mad "moonbats" in the history of our nation!

    And to "John from Illinois".... awww, poor John got his panties in a bunch because somebody in the Mainstream Media actually came out and defended Sarah Palin against the coordinated smear machine of the left and the MSM... THE HORROR!

    I'm willing to bet that John doesn't have any problem with the first lady Michelle Obama showing up to a FOOD BANK drive wearing $540 DESIGNER SNEAKERS!!!

    And hey, while we're on the subject of wasting taxpayer money John... how about that $328,000 PHOTO OP featuring Scare Force One that left thousands of New Yorkers panicking and fleeing their office buildings with 9/11 flashbacks! Now THAT was an inside job!!!

    May 8, 2009 at 10:51 pm |
  72. Don Meaker

    I don't care for Hoover's signing of the Smoot-Hawley act, but is just a bit unfair to blame him for high unemployment in 1939.

    So, Mckinney blames the US government for murder of 3000, and Bachman gets a name wrong. That is just as bad right? Just the same isn't it? Right? Anyone? Bueller?

    Kind of like equating mass murder and a parking ticket.

    May 8, 2009 at 10:45 pm |
  73. Ryan

    My $0.02

    1) I don't give a rat's tail about Bachman.
    2) @Josh: Its absolutely riotous, to me, that your comment would find its way to CNN's site - what with 99% of its audience in favor of re-establishing the Fairness Doctrine. Something shows up on their web site that isn't 150% in accordance with what you want and you whine about polarizing viewers? Give me a break!
    3) @gangbox/Dave Christie: You're only proving John's point about echo chambers. Go away.
    4) @John from IL: And the other 95% of CNN's programming that screams "MILITARY EVIL, GLOBAL WARMING KILLING US, ECONOMY HORRIBLE, BUSH EVIL, GOP EVIL, MILITARY EVIL, ECONOMY HORRIBLE, BUSH EVIL" on a regular basis *doesn't* smack of bias to you?! LOL!!!!

    May 8, 2009 at 10:44 pm |
  74. Jabba the Tutt

    First, the liberal media can only criticize liberal-lefties by also including criticism of conservative-righties. That's the format. Attempt to prove me wrong.

    Second, I predict that this feature will die a quick death, because they will run out of conservatives to criticize. Conservatives simply just don't say as much insane stuff as your typical liberal. Then the first rule kicks in, they can't criticize liberals alone. No conservatives to criticize, there will be no criticism of liberals.

    May 8, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  75. Steve

    And CNN dives down into the gutter in an effort to salvage ratings. For shame.

    May 8, 2009 at 10:42 pm |
  76. Jane56

    Transparent, Avlon. You're not fooling anyone.

    The comments defending McKinney are hilarious.

    May 8, 2009 at 10:38 pm |
  77. ynot4tony2

    Nice try, CNN, but I see through your little ploy.

    You find the most nutty freak you can find from the Democratic Party and try to equate her with a conservative who is outspoken at best.

    Bachman's words may not resonate with most conservatives, but to try and say she's on the same level as an officer assaulting, conspiracy nut, "hip-hop platform" Presidency McKinney freak is just cheap and transparent.

    You expect people to think the "nuts" on the left are only political has-beens like McKinny, while the "nuts" on the right are currently serving, not-far-from-mainstream conservatives.

    Today's free samples of Kool-Aid brought to you by CNN.

    May 8, 2009 at 10:28 pm |
  78. Dave M

    CNN Ratings: Going...Going...GONE!!

    May 8, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  79. MJ

    It is interesting how on the lib's side we have a women not holding any office but on the con's side we have a sitting congresswomen. CNN, "Idiots with Jobs"....

    May 8, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  80. ja

    it is sooooooo obvious what you are doing ... dragging down a legitimate republican star by putting her next to a certified democrat nut. i can't blame you for this strategy, as you'l be able to do it over and over and over and over and over again.

    May 8, 2009 at 10:20 pm |
  81. Jack Janski

    Who the hell is Avlon and who is he to decide who is and who isn't a "wingnut"??????????? BTW, McKinny is just a friggin' nut. Was and always will be. Bachman is more of an American patriot than 98% of the libs who watch CNN.

    May 8, 2009 at 10:16 pm |
  82. Elaina

    The biased unprofessionalism that is inherent, now, at CNN has certainly been a major reason I have quit watching their show - I just happened to catch this prejudiced tidbit from an article at HotAir. I have never voted Republican until this election, but the MSM's disgusting unfairness over their deluded love affair with Obama drove me out of the Dem Party and right on over to Fox News.

    I've never been happier to be out of the Insane Assylum. lol

    May 8, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  83. Tom

    John, She was only bad mouthing sexists like you.

    May 8, 2009 at 9:58 pm |
  84. John from Illinois

    A very good topic being that there are so many of them especially in the media itself. I did like Lou Dobbs but his views have become one sided and very unbias view of the world as all of Fox news ! CNN and your Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull is anything but . As in Campbell bad mouthing people who brought up Sarah Palins wardrobe during the elections. I have not watch her since !

    May 8, 2009 at 7:16 pm |
  85. Fred

    Wingnuts of The Week is a great addition to American Morning. Keep focused on those entrusted with the power of elected office in service to our country and not the Wingnut Commentators and Personalities this segment will achieve it’s goal of “With this segment, we’re going to try and take that power back.”.

    May 8, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  86. Lorena

    Could be a great weekly segment but I am disappointed that you did not make note of an important fact about the 1976 swine flue scare. It occurred under President Ford not President Carter. Typical of Bachman to use a falsehood to polarize, but I am disappointed that the media repeats her statement it on the 24 hour news cycle, giving her the broad media coverage that she is looking for, but no correction to the inaccuracy of her information. Please follow up next week's Wingnut of the Week award with a correction.

    May 8, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  87. Randy from Vancouver BC

    Outstanding article, John. Thank God the majority of Americans walk the middle ground, regardless of their political party of choice. I'm looking forward to reading your book.

    May 8, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  88. Rick Stevens

    Can moderates be wingnuts to?

    May 8, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
  89. Richie

    black politicians always make issues about racism..! thats all they ever do.

    May 8, 2009 at 12:15 pm |
  90. David Christie

    Um... Is this a joke or are you really a totally brain-dead pack of morons? If not, it's clear what your modus opperandi must be.

    Comparing Cynthia McKinney to the babbling bimbo, Bachman – who claims Democrats are "un-American" – is disingenuous in the least and nothing but a sinister pro-Zionist propaganda smear through association.

    Seriously, you have the gall to represent yourselves as being serious "journalists"?

    If you're really that shockingly un-aware of the influence of AIPAC and ADL on our political system, then at least have enough class and integrity to stop calling yourselves a "news" organization.

    Or, make an honest effort to expose yourselves to some facts for a change:

    May 8, 2009 at 9:17 am |

    Purrrfect, you have hit it on the head relative to both sides. Unfortunately, I don't know about anybody else, but I ended really really depressed after seeing the absolute stupidity of the people who were actually elected for office in this country. These type of expose's need to take place before these total idiots have an opportunity to even express their views in front of anyone, never mind the entire population of the U.S. Contrary to other opinions, in the commentary sections here, with the exception of Rush (who is the most dangerous right wing monster in the world) you have done a great job. Keep up the good work.

    May 8, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  92. michael armstrong sr.

    heres some food for thought could you imagine cynthia mckiney going before judge judy now wouldnt that be interesting.

    May 8, 2009 at 8:35 am |
  93. Eric Streed

    What a hoot! Whether you are left, right, red, or blue imagine seeing your own ridiculous words and behavior contrasted against the other side's equally silly actions.

    It's time we had a good laugh and contrast of fringe silliness. Keep it up, I wish this were a daily event. There's certainly enough material.

    May 8, 2009 at 7:51 am |
  94. gangbox

    Problem is, the Zionist lobby really DID target Congresswoman McKinney for defeat (in a district where very few Jewish people live).

    And the reason they targeted her is because of her opposition to US military aid to the brutal Israeli Army and it's genocidal occupation of the Palestinian Territories.

    And Rahm Emanuel really is a hardcore Zionist, who – if he had to choose, would pick Israel over the USA in a heartbeat!

    Sorry, Congresswoman McKinney is not a "wingnut"!

    May 8, 2009 at 7:46 am |
  95. Josh Adams

    I just watched you first broadcast of this feature. This is a HUGE mistake for CNN. Please, please, PLEASE don't run this feature on Am. Morning. Avlon is great–he's smart, and this may have a place on an opinion show. But CNN must try to stay above the fray on its news shows. This feature will do nothing but polarize your viewers.

    May 8, 2009 at 7:06 am |
  96. Patti Higgins

    One thing you missed in naming Rep. Bachman: Not only was her comment downright silly, it was also historically incorrect. Gerald Ford was president at the time, not Jimmy Carter.

    May 8, 2009 at 7:05 am |
  97. Bernadette Loesch

    Dear Kiran and Carol, This new segment is great! Thanks to whoever thought this one up. Just one comment, I would have expected that Rush should get the first and foremost posting on the Right!

    May 8, 2009 at 7:03 am |
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