Republican Sen. Rand Paul ripped CNN as a “factory of lies and partisanship” after the network’s personalities accused him of hypocrisy for seeking disaster relief for Kentucky despite raising objections to aid measures elsewhere.
Mr. Paul said Tuesday he doesn’t oppose federal recovery assistance, but that he has sought in the past to offset any amount over budget with spending cuts elsewhere.
“I’ve never had a problem with the program. I’ve never really opposed disaster relief for any other part of the country, but I’ve said when it goes over budget, when we spend everything that’s within our budget, that it should be paid for by taking money from places in the budget that are less essential,” Mr. Paul said on Fox News.
He added that “I think that’s a very reasonable fiscally conservative [position], but if you watch CNN, you have people who basically all they care about is attack, attack, attack.”
President Biden approved federal emergency disaster assistance for Kentucky after the state bore the brunt of Friday’s powerful tornado swarm, which destroyed at least 1,000 structures and left 88 dead, including 74 in Kentucky.
CNN columnist Chris Cillizza said Monday that Mr. Paul “has made something of a career out of opposing disaster relief in places other than Kentucky,” while senior political analyst John Avlon accused him of an “ideological flip-flop.”
“The Kentucky senator who hails from the first family of American libertarians has a long record of opposing federal aid for disaster victims except apparently when it impacts his constituents,” said Mr. Avlon in a monolog. “Suddenly all those reflexive attacks on socialist big-government spending don’t seem to apply.”
CNN wasn’t the only one. Left-tilting outlets and commentators on the left had a field day with Mr. Paul’s federal aid request, as did Democrats like Rep. Eric Swalwell, who tweeted “do not for one second forget that @RandPaul has voted against helping most Americans most times they’re in need.”
Mr. Avlon targeted the senator’s October 2017 Senate floor speech opposing a $36.5 billion aid package in response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in which Mr. Paul took a jab at those who “have great compassion with someone else’s money.”
In the speech, however, Mr. Paul didn’t object to the aid itself, but insisted that “we should pay for it,” suggesting that the Senate cut funding “to countries that burn our flag.”
A month earlier, the Senate approved a $15.25 billion hurricane-relief bill. Then-President Trump also signed major disaster declarations in 2017 for the areas affected by the hurricanes.
Mr. Paul said Tuesday that “we’re still trying to bury our dead and CNN is busy fighting some kind of left-wing partisan war founded on dishonesty.”
“All they’re going to do is basically lie to people, but it’s also why nobody wants to watch them any more,” he said. “They used to be a trusted source of news, and now my goodness, it’s just a factory of lies and partisanship. I don’t know how anybody can watch it anymore.”
Mr. Cillizza’s column was headlined, “Oh so now Rand Paul wants disaster aid from the federal government?”
Right-leaning PJ Media called the media coverage “typically flawed left-wing criticism that’s trotted out when any Republican tries to do his or her job by assisting his or her constituency after a crisis.”