In a heated interview broadcast on Wednesday, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke accused CNN's Wolf Blitzer of being an Israeli agent, due to his former work as a lobbyist for a prominent pro-Israel special interest group.
This morning, many bloggers slammed the cable news work for giving the Holocaust denier any airtime at all.
Duke was discussing his address at the "Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision" conference hosted by Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran this past Monday, which included the following remarks: "I know that the Zionist extremists lead my country to catastrophe in the Mideast and elsewhere around the world. I know that the Palestinian people, the Lebanese people, even the American people have been sacrificed on the altar of the Holocaust."
In a press release, the Anti-Defamation League stated that "the participation of racists such as David Duke, former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and other notorious Western anti-Semites shows that Iran is intent both on embracing the hateful ideology of Holocaust denial, and giving credibility to the deniers themselves."
The one-time Louisiana gubernatorial candidate, who also formerly served as a Louisiana Republican state representative, took offense straight off the bat with Blitzer's introductory comments, after Blitzer asked him if he attended the conference "simply because" he hated Jews.
"Well, first off, Mr. Blitzer, I resent the introduction you made of me," Duke said. "You mentioned the Ku Klux Klan eleven times. That was over thirty, well, 30 years ago in my life, and since that time I got elected to the House of Representatives, I became and I received a full doctorate, I've been a teacher, I have one of the best selling books in the world..."
Duke continued: "And you have interviewed many former communists in governments all over the world and you don't introduce them by saying former communist and certainly not eleven times. I think you're biased because you're a former lobbyist for AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee]. You're a Jewish extremist, supporter of Israel, so you want to bias anyone who criticizes Zionism."
The "anti-liberal media bias" Website, Newsbusters, slammed CNN for booking Duke as a ratings "stunt."
"Surely, Americans of all stripes ended up rooting for CNN's Wolf Blitzer as he sparred against that oily hater David Duke on Wednesday night," Tim Graham writes. "But many Americans also might suspect that the Duke booking was a stunt to goose ratings and create buzz for CNN."
According to Graham, the "liberal media" is responsible for making Duke "famous."
"Conservatives have often been outraged that liberals would suggest Duke was one of them, when he was always appearing in the liberal media, and not on conservative talk radio," Graham writes.
Will Bunch, senior writer for the Philadelphia Daily News who blogs at Attytood, understood the "news value" in reporting on Duke, but still called the CNN interview a "bad idea" to begin with.
"We suppose it's newsworthy -- in a sad and incredibly pathetic way -- that a man who was almost elected governor of Louisiana, KKK-turned-GOP lowlife David Duke, would go to Iran to take part in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's despicable Holocaust-denial fest," Bunch writes. "We also believe -- although we're sympathetic to those who disagree -- that the right of free speech even extends to those with such loathesome and factually incorrect views as those held by David Duke, who claims that Nazi gas chambers didn't exist."
However, Bunch questions the network for feeling the need to devote so much coverage that it amounts to giving an "extremist nut job" a megaphone, by airing an interview with him an hour before prime time.
"It might be good for ratings, but it is a very very bad idea," Bunch concludes.
Wonkette had only a certain amount of sympathy for Blitzer.
"Frankly, Wolf deserved a lot more for putting fucking David Duke on tv, but what do we know, we’re bloggers," Wonkette wrote.