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CNN staffer lets out audible groan, says 'oh, for Christ's sake' as McCarthy speaks

By Sarah May on
 January 8, 2023

The seemingly interminable saga of electing a House speaker was a frustrating exercise for many, but on Friday night, the exasperation apparently boiled over at CNN, as someone at the network was caught on a hot mic letting out an audible groan when Republican Kevin McCarthy (CA) delivered remarks on the chamber's floor, as Fox News reports.

The incident occurred when McCarthy stepped forward to comment on the ongoing process of marshaling votes for his speaker's bid after having failed in more than a dozen ballots over the course of several days.

Groan heard 'round the world

As the country waited to see whether yet another vote for speaker would be held Friday night, or whether an adjournment was on the cards, CNN's Anderson Cooper paused coverage to listen to McCarthy's latest statement on the situation.

The congressman began, “We'll [be] back tonight. I believe at that time we'll have the votes to finish this once and for all.”

“It just reminds me of what my father always told me – it's not how you start it's how you finish. And now we have to finish for the American public to turn around,” McCarthy added.

Those statements were perhaps all too much for a still-unidentified female in the CNN studio, who was overheard emitting a groan and saying, “Oh, for Christ's sake.”

Identity unknown

Though nobody has stepped up to claim responsibility for the slip, Fox News noted that some have suggested it could have come from CNN contributor and Democratic strategist Karen Finney, given that she was taking part in a panel discussion prior to the airing of McCarthy's remarks.

Another name floated by the Raw Story blog as a possible culprit was that of Dana Bash, CNN's chief political correspondent.

It should be noted that there has been no confirmation that the groan was indeed directed toward McCarthy, and CNN had not responded to requests for comment as of early Saturday, according to the New York Post.

Ordeal concluded

The dramatic events of Friday evening finally culminated in McCarthy claiming the speaker's gavel after the 15th round of balloting, a feat the congressman achieved after painstakingly convincing 20 GOP holdouts to stop impeding his ascension to the role.

Once the trying process was complete, McCarthy opened the 118th Congress and conducted a swearing-in ceremony for newly elected lawmakers, as Fox News noted separately.

Addressing the chamber and the country in the aftermath of his lengthy struggle to secure the speakership, McCarthy said, “I hope one thing is clear after this week: I will never give up. I will never give up for you, the American people. And I will never give up on keeping our Commitment to America,” referencing a GOP list of policy priorities outlined prior to the midterm elections.

“As speaker of the House, my ultimate responsibility is not to my party, my conference, or even our Congress. My responsibility – our responsibility – is to our country,” he continued.

“Two months ago, you voted for a new direction for your country. You embraced our Commitment to America. And now, we are going to keep our commitment to you,” the new speaker added.

Fractious party dynamics remain

Just how successful McCarthy will be in pulling the divergent factions of his party together in order to fulfill those promises, however, remains to be seen, as tensions between his allies and – among others – Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) appeared to reach a breaking point.

During the 14th round of voting, McCarthy ended up one vote shy of the required number to seize the gavel due to a decision by Gaetz to vote “present,” a move that spurred an intense confrontation on the House floor between the speaker hopeful and his allies and the Florida lawmaker, as the New York Post noted.

An angry, animated exchange complete with pointed fingers ensued, and McCarthy supporter Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) needed to be physically restrained by a colleague to prevent him from engaging with hardline conservative Gaetz.

According to the Daily Mail, during the fracas, Rogers told Gaetz that he is “finished” as a result of his stubborn opposition to McCarthy, underscoring the significant challenges to party unification and legislative productivity that likely remain now that the speakership has been decided -- a scenario sure to elicit groans from more than just the talking heads at CNN.