CNN Hosts Bristle at Suggestion Trump More Masculine Than Buttigieg

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Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog

For much of Thursday, a number of CNN hosts fretted over conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh musing about the possibility that some Democrats are afraid that gay presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg would be a weak general election candidate against a more masculine President Donald Trump.

Host Jake Tapper accused Limbaugh of having a long record of "bigotry" against minorities and women, and hosts Brooke Baldwin, Brianna Keilar, Jim Sciutto and Poppy Harlow, among others, also devoted segments to fretting over the issue.

Near the end of his show, it didn't take long for the word "bigotry" to come up as Tapper recalled:

TAPPER: Just days after being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, radio host Rush Limbaugh -- who has a decades-long record of bigotry against blacks, women and the LGBTQ community -- attacked Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg because Buttigieg is gay.

After playing a clip of Limbaugh from his Wednesday show, the CNN host made a crack about Limbaugh getting married several times as Tapper defended Buttigieg:

TAPPER: Buttigieg has not responded. Former Vice President Joe Biden defending Buttigieg, saying Buttigieg -- who served in the Navy in Afghanistan -- has honor and courage. We should point out, Buttigieg is married to one man. I don't even know what number spouse Limbaugh is up to.

During the 9:00 a.m. Eastern hour, co-hosts Harlow and Sciutto brought on conservative contributor Ben Ferguson to discuss the issue, and both showed frustration at Ferguson arguing that President Trump comes across as masculine compared to many people.

As she introduced the segment, Harlow seemed uncomfortable having to quote Limbaugh as calling Buttigieg a "gay guy" even though the Democratic candidate is a guy and is also gay:

HARLOW: Rush Limbaugh, recently awarded the Medal of Freedom by the President, now targeting a presidential candidate's sexuality, saying on his radio show that he wonders what would happen in a debate between, quote, "Mr. Man, President Trump," and in Mr. Limbaugh's words, "gay guy Pete Buttigieg." It's difficult to even repeat his words here and the way that he clearly meant them.

The pair of CNN hosts then oddly debated Ferguson over whether Trump should be described as the more masculine of the two because the President avoided military service. At one point, a frustrated Sciutto admonished his right-leaning guest:

SCIUTTO: Ben, I've known you a long time -- listen, it seems to me you're justifying bigotry here, are you not, because here's the thing -- people, you know, consultants might have said it's a negative to be a person of color. You might have heard that -- this is the year 2020. I'm just curious what you're justifying here?

As Baldwin also had a couple of liberal guests on to discuss the topic, she complained that Limbaugh's comments were "appalling" and "homophobic" as she set up the segment.

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Thursday, February 13, CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto:

POPPY HARLOW (before commercial break): Also, Rush Limbaugh, recently awarded the Medal of Freedom by the President, now targeting a presidential candidate's sexuality, saying on his radio show that he wonders what would happen in a debate between, quote, "Mr. Man, President Trump," and in Mr. Limbaugh's words, "gay guy Pete Buttigieg." It's difficult to even repeat his words here and the way that he clearly meant them. Much more on that ahead.

(…)

JIM SCIUTTO: Let me just take issue with your premise. What's more manly? Volunteering for military service as Pete Buttigieg did or avoiding it?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, I'm talking about appearance here. I was with the President last week, and I promise you he looked more masculine next to me than I did, and I consider myself to be a pretty masculine guy. We're talking about appearance here.

SCIUTTO: What about the substance, though? What about the substance? What about the substance?

FERGUSON: Substance -- in what category do you mean by substance?

SCIUTTO: You say the President appears more manly for -- I don't know what reason. And I'm citing an issue of the record here. Buttigieg volunteered for military service -- the President took pains to avoid it -- I'm talking about the substance. Which is more manly?

(…)

HARLOW: Ben, please, can I turn the conversation to -- I don't understand, in what world is the definition of qualification for being President of the United States how manly someone appears?

(…)

SCIUTTO: Ben, I've known you a long time -- listen, it seems to me you're justifying bigotry here, are you not, because here's the thing -- people, you know, consultants might have said it's a negative to be a person of color. You might have heard that -- this is the year 2020. I'm just curious what you're justifying here?

 

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