CNN has been knee-deep in coverage of the U.S. House of Representatives' struggle to elect a speaker, with Republican nominee Kevin McCarthy finally earning the role after 15 rounds of voting, several joke nominations, and a near fight to close out the week late into Saturday morning.
But on Thursday, the network was the locale for an awkward moment born out of the chaos in Congress. When Rep. Troy Nehls made his first appearance on the network, he was interviewed by popular anchor Erin Burnett and seemed to take a condescending tone from the very beginning.
Good for Erin Burnett for calling out Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX) for calling her "young lady."— Sarah Rumpf (@rumpfshaker) January 6, 2023
He then claims he meant it as a "compliment" because it's his first time on the "Clinton News Network."
"That, I will say, was a bit, in my opinion, rude," replies Burnett. /1 pic.twitter.com/2FXfdhIYil
Nehls was a supporter of McCarthy in the vote, answering questions on how far away others were from turning to support the GOP leader and referring to CNN as the "Clinton News Network."
"He is trying to lock in support for McCarthy for Speaker, and he just said the House is probably not going to adjourn anytime soon," Burnett started asking. "Are you prepared to go all night?"
Nehls quickly responded that he could "be here until July" if needed, citing his military and law enforcement background. He then seemed to get chippy with Burnett. "I don't know if you are aware, young lady, but I am also a member of the House Freedom Caucus. So I am one of those America-first patriots," Nehls said. "I have said to my friends – my colleagues in the Freedom Caucus – that I don't believe that this is the battle we should be waging," he continued. "I think the real battle starts when we start drafting legislation and policy in the 118th Congress under a Speaker McCarthy."
Burnett quickly hit back, though, putting the congressman on the spot for his comment. "I'll assume when you called me a young lady, that was a compliment," Burnett said, prompting the Clinton News Network line from Nehls. "Okay. That, I will say, was a bit – in my opinion – rude, But I'm glad you're talking to me, and I will treat you with the respect that you deserve."
Deserve is a strange choice of words given the current political climate, but it is the bed that has been made. After this interview, there was still another day of bickering and grandstanding during the speaker vote, putting strain on the idea of respect. Hopefully, it can hold up to the actual junk the House will be pushing across the next two years.