CNN's Soledad O'Brien would not brand Saul Alinsky as a leftist radical, and neither would she say President Obama was influenced by his writings – but she had no problem tying Alinsky's controversial beliefs to the Tea Party movement on Monday's Starting Point.
As a community organizer in Chicago, Barack Obama mirrored the tactics Alinsky laid out in his book "Rules for Radicals" – which featured a tribute to the devil Lucifer, "the very first radical." GOP candidate Newt Gingrich has recently tied Obama's name with Alinsky, sparking a media debate over the matter.
O'Brien wanted to set the story straight on Monday, and delivered a neutral take on the controversial community organizer. "He spent his life helping minorities in poor neighborhoods exert their political force by organizing them to get to the polls," she stated.
And O'Brien's soft take echoes the coverage by her network. According to a Nexis search, during the 2008 presidential campaign Alinsky's name was mentioned on CNN precisely eight times, almost always by conservative host Glenn Beck or his conservative guests. Host Lou Dobbs dropped the name once, and actor Jon Voight mentioned Alinsky on the October 4th edition of Ballot Box 2008.
And even though she cast Alinsky as a simple community organizer, O'Brien hastily downplayed a connection between him and Obama. "President Obama has never said that he was influenced by Alinsky. In fact, he was 10 years old when Alinsky passed away," she insisted. Apparently for the CNN reporter, the President's word merits no need for fact-checking.
However, O'Brien was more than willing to connect Alinsky with the Tea Party, quoting FreedomWorks leader Dick Armey as admiring the effectiveness of Alinsky's tactics while condemning his ends and goals. She also insinuated that the Tea Party had used Alinsky's tactics in the past.
To read more, and to view a transcript of the segment, click here.