Teamsters Union president James Hoffa warned on CNN Tuesday that there would be "civil war" in Michigan over thepassage of right-to-work legislation, but after anchor Brooke Baldwin made two brief mentions of it the CNN blackout began. In contrast, on the next day Fox News hammered the "civil war" threat as an example of radical rhetoric.
How bad was CNN's blind spot to the controversy? After Hoffa warned of "civil war," Baldwin simply repeated his words back to him. "[I]n the meantime, as you wage this civil war, what does this mean for unionized workers moving forward in Michigan?" she asked, without demanding how violent the union pushback would be.
Would CNN have ignored a Republican threatening "civil war"? Or would it have aired the Democratic outrage over inflammatory rhetoric?
Baldwin repeated Hoffa's words once more, to a UAW member in favor of the right-to-work legislation. "He [Hoffa] told me, you know, the governor is basically bowing down to extreme Republicans, told me this is the beginning of a civil war here. What would you say to him?" Baldwin asked the union member.
During CNN's subsequent blackout, Fox News headlined Hoffa's threat on Wednesday. "Tonight: The union fight is absolutely exploding! Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa predicting civil war will break out in Michigan," On the Record host Greta van Susteren excitedly opened her show.
"Union leaders are resorting to the panic button and resorting to downright dangerous language," said host Sean Hannity who called Hoffa's threat "reckless." He asked later, "So, what are we to make of all this violence, all of this ugliness?"
"Do you agree with me that things are getting worse?" The O'Reilly Factor host Bill O'Reilly asked comedian Dennis Miller. "Because, I think, this is just the beginning. And the civil war comment is, I think, that's where we are right now. We are a divided nation no doubt."
The Five co-host Eric Bolling cast Hoffa's remarks as an act of desperation. "Dana, Jimmy Hoffa from the Teamsters, said that Governor Snyder's actions were in the sense declaring civil war on Michigan. Trumka says he's a puppet of the extreme donors. He goes on and on. The union feels to me -- am I wrong -- in last ditch, last grasp of fresh air?"