Florida Sen. Marco Rubio went on seven Sunday talk shows to pitch a bipartisan immigration reform deal, while a handful of Republican lawmakers famous for their wacky cable news interviews can't get any attention. An anti-immigration "gang of six" in the House is trying to stop the pro-immigration "gang of eight" in the Senate, The National Review's Robert Costa reports, but hardly anyone's listening. The six are cable TV favorites: Minnesota's Michele Bachmann, Iowa's Steve King, Texas' Louie Gohmert, Alabama's Mo Brooks, Pennsylvania's Lou Barletta, and California's Dana Rohrabacher. There were zero "anti-amnesty" Sunday show guests the week before Rubio's grand tour. The most popular cable guests of the six -- Bachmann, King, and Gohmert -- haven't been invited on cable to talk immigration in the last three months, according to Lexis Nexis. They complain the GOP isn't listening to them either.
In 2007, Costa explains, Republican immigration opponents "dominated the headlines" and "scared off many Republicans who might otherwise have supported it." Now, "the anti-legalization warriors wonder why their party suddenly seems to be ignoring their concerns." But once the bill comes out, he writes, "they think they, not Rubio, will be the Republicans who shape the debate, especially on talk radio and within the conservative movement." But that hasn't happened so far! According to Lexis Nexis -- which, granted, doesn't have every single word uttered on cable news -- Bachmann, King, and Gohmert haven't been able to get much time on Fox to sell their view. They're all far more popular on MSNBC as bad guys than on Fox as good guys. Here are their mentions in the last three months:
- Bachmann: MSNBC (47 times), CNN (33 times), Fox (12 times).
- King: MSNBC (32 mentions), CNN (seven mentions), Fox (three mentions).
- Gohmert: MSNBC (17 mentions), CNN (eight mentions), Fox (seven mentions).
In their rare interviews, they didn't talk immigration. Bachmann was mostly mentioned on Fox when Bill O'Reilly was shaming her for her false claim that President Obama's luxurious lifestyle included a taxpayer-funded full-time dog walker. In his 2007 glory days. King was invited to talk about immigration all the time -- telling MSNBC in August that the Bush administration hired illegal immigrants, telling Fox in May the bill was "an amnesty to end all amnesties," telling CNN in May, "I'm the only one that wants to build a fence and a wall." That glory is long gone. The anti-immigration crew is not getting noticed on TV and it's not invited to Republican meetings:
“The meetings of the Gang of Eight and the secret meetings in the House of Representatives — the people who have been standing up for the Constitution and the rule of law haven’t been invited to those meetings,” King tells the assembled group of reporters...
"We’ve got all the rich guys and the elitists talking to each other," Rohrabacher says. "Unfortunately us regular folks don’t have that kind of coordination."
The Daily Caller's Mickey Kaus lamented last week that in the Sunday political talk shows, the networks didn't even haul in "the kookiest anti-amnesty crackpot." The GOP doesn't want to hear from the kooks either.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.