The New Clarion

The New Clarion header image 2

CNN Reporter Blanks Out On Camera

April 17th, 2009 by dismuke · 15 Comments · Culture

This video clip of CNN reporter Susan Roesgen arguing with and lecturing to a protester at the Chicago Tea Party has been widely posted on a number of blogs. If you have not yet seen it, definitely take a moment to do so – this reporter, as well as anchor back in the studio at the final moments of the clip, are an excellent look at the mindset and attitude of the Walter Duranty media.

If CNN had an ounce of journalistic credibility left it would immediately terminate Susan Roesgen, give a warning to the anchor back in the studio and issue an apology both to the protesters in Chicago and to its audience. But I seriously doubt that will happen. My guess is Susan Roesgen accurately reflects the attitudes and views of her editors and CNN management.

Anyhow, my reason for posting the clip here is to make the following observation: Observe that what really sets Roesgen off is when the protester took offense at Obama quoting Lincoln on grounds that what Lincoln actually stood for was liberty.

Something I have noticed over the years is that, whenever I have had discussions with Leftists and brought up the authoritarian nature of their agenda and its totalitarian implications, they are often thrown into what Ayn Rand referred to as a “blank out” which she defined as “the willful suspension of one’s consciousness, the refusal to think — not blindness, but the refusal to see; not ignorance, but the refusal to know.”

Sometimes the “blank out” takes the form of the Leftist suddenly wanting to terminate the conversation, usually by tossing out a final insult and making a statement to the effect that one is “hopeless.” Sometimes it takes the form of desperately trying to change the subject. And sometimes it takes the form of a sudden outburst of hostility and rage. In the case of Susan Roesgen, we see all three.

I suspect that the reaction of hostility and rage is usually the result of the person not being able to successfully blank out fast enough thus allowing the offending fact of reality to actually get past their defenses and though to their consciousness. Hostility and rage is their way of attempting to forever bury that which they momentarily grasped. Those who are able to successfully blank out before the implications fully hit them are usually able to maintain self-control and simply change the subject or walk away.

Had the protester in the video been more explicit about Obama’s authoritarianism, had he carried a sign stating that Obama was a thug, it would probably have had little impact in terms of unnerving Roesgen. Such explicit statements would have been dismissed out of hand as proof that the protesters were right wing bumpkins and boobs from flyover country who drink the sort of coffee served in truck stops and gas stations and thus should not be taken seriously. The danger for people such as Roesgen is the workings of their own mind when the implications of what they are seeking to avoid knowing sneak past and sink in.

My guess is that, between some of premises displayed by the better posters which were evident in great number at these Tea Parties and the protester’s implicit suggestion that Obama is anti-liberty, for a brief fraction of a second, Roesgen’s mind was able to put two and two together and she understood exactly what the Tea Party was all about. That was the moment that set her off and her reaction to it was so intense that she completely dropped any pretense at journalistic professionalism. Even by twisted Walter Duranty media standards, it is unacceptable to “lose one’s cool” on camera.

Observe that Roesgen engaged in all of the three forms of blanking out that I described – she tried to change the subject (“What does this have to do with your taxes?”), she became hostile and, finally, she attempted to run away from the whole thing by ending the broadcast on the excuse that “since I cannot really hear much more and since I think this is not really family viewing, [I will] toss it back to you Karen.”

Ultimately, this is a good thing and Susan Roesgen has done the people she so desperately hates a huge favor. Displays such as this make it more and more difficult for decent, busy people who do not pay close attention to politics to realize that Leftist arrogance and Leftist media bias is more than a mere sore loser sort of Right wing accusation and that something is very wrong. Displays such as this only helps motivate those who do realize what is happening to become angry and speak up. Nasty people like her are the greatest recruitment tool the Tea Party movement has. Above all, displays such as this are a good example of why anybody who grasps at whatever level the connection between big government and tyranny should call a spade a spade as opposed to self-censoring one’s statements in order to conform to the unspoken requirements of being perceived as a “moderate.”

15 Comments so far ↓

  • Mike N

    Very perceptive post. These leftists use language to cultivate, soothe, assuage, and nurture feelings. AR wrote: “This kind of psycho-epistemology works so long as no part of it is challenged. But all hell breaks loose when it is–because what is threatened then is not a particular idea, but that mind’s whole structure. The hell ranges from fear to resentment to stubborn evasion to hostility to panic to malice to hatred.”( From her essay The Missing Link.)

    I would say that covers Ms. Roesgens quite nicely.

  • Harold

    …I cannot really hear much more and since I think this is not really family viewing…

    I got a kick out of that part.

    “Observe that what really sets Roesgen off is when the protester took offense at Obama quoting Lincoln on grounds that what Lincoln actually stood for was liberty.”

    Why is that libertarians dislike him so much?

  • Myrhaf

    Libertarians dislike Lincoln because he stopped the Confederacy from dissolving the Union. He weakened states rights and made the federal government more powerful. The Libertarians are more anti-state than they are for anything, so Lincoln would have to be an enemy to them.

  • anon

    Is this what Ayn Rand would call “psychologizing”?

  • Harold

    Thanks Myrhaf. So they would have been more comfortable with the South leaving and continuing its slave trade?


  • L-C

    Very insightful post, dismuke. This is a good lesson on the mental bottom line of acknowledgement versus denial.

  • madmax

    Myrhaf is right regarding the libertarians and Lincoln. The libertarians have become almost exclusively neo-Confederates. They despise Grant and especially Sherman often referring to him as a “butcher.” The libertarian view of Sherman and John Lewis’ view are from two different universes.

    Their view is that we would have been better off had the South won The Civil War because there would have been a smaller central government and many of the protectionist measures of the North would not have been implemented. They believe that slavery would have ended peacefully by the end of the century at the latest as it did in Brazil. All of this is nonsense but the libertarians are anarchists mostly and hatred of the state defines them. Both the libertarians and the left are epistemological subjectivists but they express it in different ways.

  • dismuke

    “Is this what Ayn Rand would call “psychologizing”?”

    No, I don’t think that it is. It is certainly true that I engaged in speculation about Susan Roesgin’s psychology and her psychological motives. But that is not necessarily the same thing as psychologizing. If it were then Ayn Rand and other Objectivists would also be guilty of psychologizing anytime they referred to someone such as a Bill Clinton or an Obama as a “social metaphysician” or a “Peter Keating.”

    Let’s look at how Ayn Rand described psychologizing:

    “Psychologizing consists in condemning or excusing specific individuals on the grounds of their psychological problems, real or invented, in the absence of or contrary to factual evidence.”

    And, further:

    “A man’s moral character must be judged on the basis of his actions, his statements and his conscious convictions—not on the basis of inferences (usually, spurious) about his subconscious.

    A man is not to be condemned or excused on the grounds of the state of his subconscious.”

    Now it is certainly true that I condemn Susan Roesgen’s behavior. But that she is worthy of condemnation is already a given without my having to say a single word about her psychology or motives. For a reporter to lose it emotionally and to argue with and lecture someone she is supposedly interviewing is inappropriate and unprofessional in pretty much ANYONE’S book. So I was certainly not condemning her on the basis of her psychology. Rather, I was attempting to IDENTIFY and UNDERSTAND her psychology and the psychological motives behind her bizarre behavior.

    Asking one’s self what might motivate a professional reporter to just suddenly lose it emotionally and jeopardize her reputation and career (assuming she worked for a credible news organization, which is probably not the case here) is certainly not inappropriate nor is it “psychologizing” And there are a number of possibilities that one could consider – including that she was simply having a “bad day.”

    In this particular instance, however, I noticed Roesgen as but one more instance of a consistent pattern of behavior I have observed over time involving a number of other Leftists who found themselves in a similar position of having to confront the authoritarian implications of their political views and immediately slammed their minds shut and became evasive and/or hostile. My noticing such similarities was certainly not inappropriate nor was my pointing them out.

    And it certainly is not inappropriate to ask WHY a person who advocates an authoritarian political agenda would so desperately seek to evade the fact that it IS authoritarian – nor does it take a rocket scientist to come up with the answer.

    Indeed, I would go so far as to say that it is absolutely NECESSARY to study and understand as much as possible the sorts of mindsets and psychological motives that animate various stripes of Leftists. It is necessary on the premise of “know thy enemy” and it is NOT an example of psychologizing.

    Indeed, law enforcement officials routinely do the exact same thing. Law enforcement draws up all sorts of psychological profiles of various sorts of criminals such as child molesters, rapists, serial killers, terrorists, etc. Understanding the psychological motives of such people enables officials to anticipate the their next moves and, in some cases, such knowledge can be used to help flush them out. I guarantee you that our CIA and military has done extensive psychological profiles on key officials of various hostile countries and terrorist groups.

    It is even appropriate in contexts that do not involve enemies. I work in management and I have long made it a habit to always keep my eyes open for little tidbits of information and data about the people under me that can help me better understand “what makes this person tick.” For example, such information helps me make better judgments about what might and might not be an effective approach towards motivating a given individual. If an employee becomes disgruntled, such information can potentially help me make a better judgment as to whether the person is merely demotivated for some reason and is potentially salvageable or if the person is a bad apple who needs to be terminated as quickly as possible.

    When it comes to Leftists, there are occasions when one might come across one who is intellectually honest and one can deal with them accordingly. But the vast majority of them are profoundly dishonest and nihilistic. They seek to DESTROY pretty much everything that most readers here value and thus the only proper course of action is not to engage in debate with such people but rather to DEFEAT them. Knowing what makes them tick is very useful information if one wishes to defeat them. It is also useful information if one is in the unfortunate situation of having to deal with them and be at their mercy. For example, a student who NEEDS a good grade in a particular class but has a vindictive, agenda driven Leftist professor would benefit enormously by having an understanding of the professor’s psychology in order to avoid pushing certain dangerous hot buttons. And, for the rest of us, we WANT to push those hot buttons whenever possible so that, like Susan Roesgen, they drop their carefully crafted facades and demonstrate for the world to see who and what they REALLY are.

    Furthermore, pushing their hot buttons and forcing them to confront the contradictions that they so desperately seek to evade has the long term effect of demoralizing them and undermining their intellectual self-confidence. Who knows, perhaps because of the identifications I made as a result of watching Susan Roesgen, I might someday find myself in a position to utter in public just the right words to cause some Leftist to have a similar meltdown for all to watch. Perhaps my uttering just the right words might result in that person being less confident in future dealings with people and maybe even become downright defensive.

    We have one major advantage that they do not: truth and reality are on OUR side. Our enemies, by contrast, must constantly evade, hide, distort and obscure truth and reality – both from themselves and from their would-be victims. They don’t fear dissent so much as they fear INFORMATION and facts – which is why they are desperate to shut down Fox News and talk radio. All that needs to be done to destroy them is to EXPOSE them for what they, in fact, are. You know the old saying – the truth hurts. Well, for them, inconvenient facts of reality are CORROSIVE – and that video of Susan Roesgen melting down is a perfect example of what can happen when such people are forced to confront inconvenient facts that they DO NOT want to know and wish would just go away.

  • Ashley

    Myrhaf, madmax,

    I read a book by Thomas DiLorenzo, The Real Lincoln, a few years ago. It was recommended by the Ayn Rand Bookstore I believe. It threw me off until I read Harry Jaffa’s A New Birth of Freedom. DiLorenzo is similar to that neo-Confederate view you refer to.

  • madmax


    DiLorenzo debated Jaffa on this subject. Look here:

  • anon


    you are a wonderful writer with a thorough grasp of Objectivism. Eloquently stated. I agree with everything you said 100%. I would only ad that it is my sincere hope that one day the same respect for the value of psychological profiling will be brought to bear on the some of the common types of bad behavior within and throughout the Objectivist movement. There have been attempts made in the past, and each time they have been met with bitterly defensive accusations of psychologizing.

  • Myrhaf

    Don’t miss Bill Whittle’s exposure of Susan Roesgen’s hypocrisy:

  • Joseph Kellard

    Roesgen characterized the tea party protestors as “anti-government.” That means they are anarchists. If you call for government to stop taxing “too much,” you’re calling for the downfall of government.

  • Jim May

    Joseph: in the Left’s “we’re all in this together, like it or not” view of government, individual dissent *is* anarchic.

  • Jim May

    Dismuke: great point about the difference between strategizing and psychologizing.

    That “blank outs” have a built-in delay that can be exploited — rather like the finite time it takes for the eyelids to close before the eyes see – has been part of the considerations I use in crafting quick-shot blog comments.

    Leftist ideas have a certain structure and logic to them. Like roads, they lead to certain destinations regardless of what any traveller on that road fancies about where he’s going. The key to crafting one’s message to take advantage of the fact that blanking out is a process that takes effort and direction (and is therefore defeatable) is to understand those “roads”, to know where they flow, and to exploit that knowledge to force the Leftist to glimpse where his road actually leads, instead of he usual fantasy construct he uses to avoid that knowledge.

    Thusly, this sort of strategizing isn’t psychologizing at all… it is simply understanding and exploiting the logic of the enemy’s ideas — something which I think Objectivists are far better equipped to do than anyone else — to trick them into seeing where their ideas really lead, even if only briefly.

    And yes, they will hate you for it — enough to kill you, even. James Taggart is your template here.