Mauling Mike: Media’s Worst Attacks on Former Arkansas Governor

Former Arkansas Governor and Fox News host Mike Huckabee’s entry into the GOP 2016 presidential field is sure to bring attacks on his social conservatism by liberal elites, if recent history is any guide. Despite his background as a former pastor, liberal journalists seem confounded by his sticking to religious tradition when it comes to issues like same-sex marriage, federally-funded birth control or even Christmas.

In 2014 the former governor was attacked for saying “Women I know are outraged that the Democrats think that women are nothing more than helpless and hopeless creatures whose only goal in life is to have the government provide for them birth control medication...Women I know are smart, educated, intelligent, capable of doing anything.” MSNBC host Alex Wagner called Huckabee’s comments “hostile” towards women, her colleague Chris Matthews called them “Cro-Magnon” and ABC star producer Shonda Rhimes (creator of Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy) wished Huckabee would “suddenly” grow a vagina and then have his birth control denied.

Back in February, CNN’s Alisyn Camerota questioned Huckabee if he was on the “wrong side of history” on same-sex marriage.

And in 2007, former NBC Today host Meredith Vieira seemed very concerned with a cross showing up in a Huckabee Christmas ad when she pressed the former pastor: “You say people should be celebrating the birth of Christ while the shape of a cross appears to take shape behind you.”

The aforementioned Matthews also attacked Huckabee for his foreign policy “he’s gonna clear out all the Arabs in the West Bank, just get rid of them all!” and even a cartoon for kids he produced featuring Ronald Reagan: “that’s right from a Cambodian re-education camp or it’s Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book. What propaganda!”

The following are the media’s worst attacks (so far) on Huckabee from the MRC’s archives:


CNN’s Camerota to Huckabee: Are You On the “Wrong Side of History” on Marriage?


“Governor, let me show you some of the recent polls in terms of gay marriage, because so many people are interested in your take on this and what you would do as president. So, it shows that the country’s feeling about it has morphed. From 2001, the people who opposed gay marriage was 57 percent of the country, versus 40 percent who – now, it’s 40 percent. And people who support it in 2001 were 35 [percent]; and now, it’s a majority, at 52 percent. So, in terms of your stance on gay marriage, do you feel as though you’re on the wrong side of history?
— CNN’s Alisyn Camerota to Mike Huckabee, CNN’s New Day, February 9, 2015.


How Dare Huckabee Say Women Are “Smart” Enough to Take Care of Their Own Birth Control



“Just when you thought the Republican Party’s open antagonism toward women and their reproductive organs couldn’t get any more hostile, hours ago, talk show host, former governor, and failed presidential candidate Mike Huckabee took it upon himself to ‘mansplain’ to the women of America how one party wants to tame their wild libidos.”
— Host Alex Wagner on Huckabee’s remarks that women were smart enough to take care of their own birth control needs without the federal government, MSNBC’s Now with Alex Wagner, January 23, 2014.

“I hear what Mike Huckabee had to say today, and I recall a basic, too-often-ignored fact of American politics: There are more women voters than there are male voters. And given that, what is it in the Republican DNA that makes them talk as if they’ve never talked with women? Why do they speak as if they’re the party of cave dwellers who come out of their habitats every four years or so to grunt something so retro, so awkward, so Cro-Magnon as this?...Didn’t he learn from Akin and Mourdock, the rape-rappers, to avoid getting too up close and personal on the boy-girl front?”
— MSNBC host Chris Matthews on Huckabee birth control remarks, Hardball, January 23, 2014. 

“I want Mike Huckabee to wake up tomorrow having suddenly grown a vagina. Then I wanna deny his vagina proper medical care and birth control while making crazy statements about his libido. And see how he likes it.”
— ABC’s Scandal producer Shonda Rhimes on Huckabee birth control remarks,, January 23, 2014.


Huckabee’s Reagan Cartoon Project = “Cambodian Re-Education Camp”



Host Chris Matthews: “Next up, through the looking glass. 2012 contender Mike Huckabee is producing animated history lessons for children. What was America like before Ronald Reagan? Here’s the conservative spin.”
Animated character: “The downturn in the economy is killing us, people are out of work, and some of their morals are just gone.”...
Cartoon version of Ronald Reagan: “God had a plan for America. I see it as a shining city on a hill. If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be one nation gone under.”
Matthews: “You know, I don’t know whether that’s right from a Cambodian re-education camp or it’s Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book. What propaganda!”
— MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Huckabee’s animation proejct, Hardball, May 12, 2011.


NBC’s Meredith Vieira Nervous About Huckabee’s Christmas Ad

Meredith Vieira: “Let’s talk about this Christmas ad, because it comes after you have taken some hits from the critics, first for calling yourself a Christian leader, then for questioning whether Mormons believe Christ and the devil were brothers, something you did apologize for.
Now in this ad you say people should be celebrating the birth of Christ while the shape of a cross appears to take shape behind you. And that has led some to say that this is another overt religious appeal to voters. What do you say about this ad and about those criticisms?”
Mike Huckabee: “That floating cross is a bookshelf, Meredith. We were all amused -- the production crew I think probably more than anyone, who put the spot together.”
Vieira: “So you didn’t see that image when you put the spot together, that it might be confused?”
Huckabee: “Absolutely not. I would love for you to interview the crew. They would find this incredibly amusing. People are looking for anything in the world. It’s almost like it’s so
politically incorrect to say Merry Christmas anymore. I find this pretty amazing. Somebody will probably figure out as I was blinking my eyes, I was saying some special code, Morse Code and telling people a subliminal message. It’s beyond ridiculous. You can’t even say Merry Christmas without people getting offended by it.”
— NBC’s Today, December 19, 2007.


Matthews Accuses Huckabee of Wanting to Commit Genocide


“But you are being left with the crazies now, who are still in contention and the, and the real people are getting out of this race. Jeb [Bush], [Chris] Christie, this guy [John Thune] are real people. Now the wacks are still - you got [Mike] Huckabee still running. If Huckabee runs, he’s a, he’s a lunatic. You’ve got Huckabee saying he’s gonna clear out all the Arabs in the West Bank, just get rid of them all! This is - I’ve never heard a politician in America say interfere in another country? He wants to get rid - talk about ethnic cleansing? He says he’s gonna do it!”
— Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball, February 23, 2011.

— Geoffrey Dickens is Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center. Follow Geoffrey Dickens on Twitter.