Following Tuesday’s chaotic House vote that initially denied Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) his long sought-after speakership, several CNN anchors and reporters took turns dunking on the Republican leader for finding new ways to embarrass himself.
It wasn’t just CNN that dunked on McCarthy. Over on conservative competitor Fox News, the typically GOP-friendly broadcasters couldn’t help but notice how bad it looked for the wannabe speaker of the House.
“This is I don’t want to say an unmitigated disaster for Kevin McCarthy, but it’s close,” Fox News anchor John Roberts stated.
“It’s pretty bad,” his colleague Martha MacCallum agreed.
After the GOP underperformed in the 2022 midterm elections, McCarthy could only afford to lose votes from four House Republicans due to the party’s razor-thin majority in the chamber. And throughout much of the race for speaker of the House, there were only five Republicans who were on record opposing McCarthy for the position.
That number, however, grew in recent days as the California lawmaker failed to sway GOP hardliners over their demands for rule changes. By the time the initial votes were cast on Tuesday, 19 Republicans had voted for candidates other than McCarthy—sparking the most chaotic speaker’s race in modern congressional history.
With McCarthy’s hopes for finally leading the House in severe jeopardy as the chamber was poised to move to a second ballot, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson observed that McCarthy seemed a glutton for punishment.
“I mean, their goal seems to be wanting to humiliate Kevin McCarthy and run him out of town,” Henderson stated.
“Mission accomplished,” CNN political commentator David Axelrod shot back.
“It seems like McCarthy’s willingness to be humiliated knows no bounds,” Cooper snarked in response.
Henderson, meanwhile, noted that McCarthy had gone “hat in hand” to both former President Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans in the hopes of cutting deals to gain the speakership—only to be rejected. (Trump, who has long referred to McCarthy as “My Kevin,” eventually backed the GOP leader’s run for speaker while also criticizing McCarthy’s inability to strike a deal.)
“But so far I mean they are winning this round, we’ll see how many rounds he’s willing to go. He says he’s willing to go round after round after round,” she added. “At some point, moderates will say to him, this is not about you, it’s about the party.”
After all the votes had been counted, anchor Jake Tapper also took the opportunity to remark how much the far right of the GOP just did not want McCarthy to lead the House.
“We just need to be clear to anybody watching right now, Kevin McCarthy with 203 votes,” Tapper said to fellow anchor John King. “He needs to win 15 more House Republican votes, that’s not a small number when it comes down to it.”
He added: “Fifteen, that means, you know, every man a king. I mean, everybody will have their own list of demands and frankly, as you’ve noted, John, their biggest demand, they don’t want Kevin McCarthy to be speaker.”
King, for his part, suggested that McCarthy simply would not be able to convince the hard-right wing of his party to come over to his side.
“They can go to that room and say we’ve embarrassed ourselves, a Democrat came out on the first vote but many members don’t care about that,” the CNN host declared. “That’s not the world they live in. They don’t live in a normal Washington. They are not party members, they are—they view themselves as MAGA warriors.”
Later in the afternoon, with McCarthy heading for an even wider defeat on the third ballot, conservative CNN political commentator Jonah Goldberg found a unique way to describe the chaos.
“We’ve heard this phrase which defies standards and practices of an ‘s-show’—let’s call it a ‘fecal festival,’” Goldberg asserted, prompting an “oh, gross” reaction from his colleagues.
“It is that,” the anti-Trump Republican continued. “It is a hot mess. I think that’s true. It’s symbolic of the mess of the GOP.”
Fox News contributor Karl Rove, meanwhile, didn’t mince words about how poorly this train wreck of a vote reflected on the party.
“This is an utter, unmitigated disaster,” the longtime Republican strategist sighed. “Chaos tends to bring about chaos until it no longer brings about chaos. We’re a long way from the point at which chaos stops bringing around more chaos.”