Longtime CNN correspondent and afternoon news programming host Wolf Blitzer made what should be an utterly uncontroversial statement on his show, “The Situation Room,” yesterday. But it is an apparent mark of the poisoned political environment that a TV anchorperson saying “You have to respect the president” is now big news.
Blitzer’s comments came in an exchange with Virginia Republican Rep. Scott Rigell. Blitzer asked Rigell for his reaction to comments made over the weekend by conservative lawyer and activist Larry Klayman during a Tea Paty rally at Washington, D.C.’s World War II Memorial.
Opposing Views reported yesterday on Klayman’s speech, in which the Freedom Watch founder called for a new “American revolution” and that President Barack Obama should “put the Qu’ran down” and “come out with his hands up.”
Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who has become the public face of the government shutdown, and former Alaska governor and media personality Sarah Palin also spoke at the rally and did not separate their views from Klayman’s.
Rigell said he was repulsed by Klayman’s remarks.
“I have a visceral response to that, and I repudiate it,” the conservative Republican said. “It doesn’t reflect my personal values. My 90-year-old father right now, Ike Rigell, is listening right now, and he raised me to say it’s always the President, the President of the United States. We respect the office. And that type of language is harmful to our country.”
Blitzer agreed. Then he added his own thoughts.
“You can can certainly disagree with policies, but you have to respect the President of the United States,” Blitzer proclaimed. “He is the President, not only twice elected, but the last time by more than 5 million votes of the American people.”
While Blitzer’s comments may seem innocuous, even obvious to most reasonable people, they provoked an outraged response on social media that was all-too-predictable.
“No I don’t,” tweeted @peytonjames.
“I only Respect someone that deserves and earns Respect. He has not. Wake Up Wolf,” wrote Charlene McNally on the conservative blog, PatDollard.com.
“Respect one that killing USA ???” said another tweet, from @davidjones720.
“Where was the respect for Pres Bush? oh right” read a tweet from @InfidelAlie.
“Wolf, my deceased father and every WW2 vet who is buried in Arlington National Cemetery rolled over in their graves so you and Obama can kiss their cold dead asses they gave to this country,” wrote “geeze” on the Pat Dollard web site.
The rally at the WWII Memorial was supposed to support veterans who say they were denied access to the site during the government shutdown. But the protest organizer, Million Vet March, distanced itself from Klayman’s comments.
“We feel disheartened that some would seek to hijack the narrative for political gain,” the group wrote on its Facebook page. “The core principle was and remains about all Americans honoring Veterans in a peaceful and apolitical manner.”
See Blitzer and Rigell make their remarks in the video below.