Former House Speaker John A. Boehner on Sunday blamed the news media for giving partisan extremist “knuckleheads” a platform that has allowed them to dominate U.S. politics.
“The only thing different today than when I was there is that those who want chaos have a bigger platform. Back 30 years ago, there was no platform. We always had some people on the fringe, right and left, but the press never paid any attention to them,” the former Republican leader told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The Ohio Republican, who served as speaker from 2011 to 2015, blamed “talk radio, cable news, and all these social media platforms” for giving “people on the fringes” a way to communicate and “create chaos.”
“It brings more attention to them. They’re able to raise more money. And the idea of governing is something foreign to most of them,” Mr. Boehner said.
The tea party movement with leaders like Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, gained traction during Mr. Boehner’s leadership.
The former speaker said some of those members became very good Republicans, while others struggled with him to get anything accomplished in Congress.
“On any given day I had two or three dozen what I call knuckleheads who wanted chaos, who wanted it 100% their way or no way,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Mr. Boehner made the rounds on the Sunday talk shows to promote his book “On the House: A Washington Memoir” released last week.
In the book, he details behind-the-scenes happenings in Washington while he was at the top of the Republican Party and takes swipes at where the party has gone in recent years.
He refused, though, to take responsibility for the fringe in his party gaining attention.
Conservative Republicans managed to push Mr. Boehner, a moderate, out of his speakership, frustrated with him for compromising too much with Democrats, in particular former President Obama.
Mr. Boehner said one of his biggest regrets during his time in the House was not reaching a bipartisan agreement on immigration reform with Mr. Obama.
He also said the two parties did not have a middle ground on gun violence, but that leaders must come together to solve the mass shooting problem in the U.S.