CNN Links Trump Defending Gays from Terrorists to Transgender Bathroom Issue

On Thursday's CNN Newsroom, host Poppy Harlow repeatedly showed skepticism that there have been cases of men or boys taking advantage of transgender bathroom or changing room rules to commit sex crimes as she focused on liberal hysteria over the Trump administration canceling Obama administration rules mandating transgender students be allowed to use the bathroom of their choice.

CNN political commentator David Swerdlick -- also of the Washington Post -- at one point even suggested that sexual assault victims and survivors should be expected to compromise with transgenders who want to be able to use women's bathrooms.

And at another moment, Harlow oddly cited Donald Trump's promise to protect LGBT Americans from being murdered by Muslim terrorists as somehow being inconsistent with not granting men the right to utilize women's bathrooms.

At 9:09 a.m., after Charmaine Yoest of the group American Values expressed concerns about the safety of girls if transgenders are allowed their choice of bathrooms, Harlow pressed:

But can you point to one -- Charmaine, since you bring that up -- absolutely, but since you bring that up, can you point to one incident where a transgender individual has inflicted harm on the people you're talking about?

After Yoest could not specify any case off the top her head and recommending that Harlow look it up online, Harlow followed up: "You can't -- you need to back up that assertion with facts on this program."

Even though it only takes a few seconds to use Google and find relevant examples, the CNN host again pressed Yoest a bit later to provide her with examples:

HARLOW: I wish you would provide those sources for what you're talking about on the internet.

YOEST: Sure, I absolutely can.

HARLOW: You can send those to us, but, David, to you, civil rights-

YOEST  I'm happy to.

After Harlow turned to Swerlick, the CNN commentator oddly seemed to concede that sexual assault victims have a poin in being concerned, but that transgenders should be accommodated anyway:

I would say, "Yes," as Charmaine brought up, "sexual assault victims and survivors have to have a voice in this discussion," but that's the challenge here, right? It has to be balanced against the voice of transgender individuals who do face -- especially youth -- disproportionate, you know, violence and bullying, etc., in schools.

In the next hour, at about 10:05 a.m. ET, Harlow revisited the issue with a different group of guests, and, turning to conservative CNN political commentator Alice Stewart, she brought up Trump's words of support for LGBTQ Americans during the campaign. Harlow:

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How do you square what the White House has done here -- pulling back on this federal guideline -- and then what candidate Trump said about being a protector of LGBTQ individuals on the campaign trail? Let's listen.

Then came two clips of Trump from the Republican convention, dated July 22, 2016:

DONALD TRUMP CLIP #1: As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of the hateful foreign ideology. Believe me.

TRUMP CLIP #2: And I have to say, as a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said. Thank you.

The CNN host then wondered: "So how do you square the two, Alice?"

Moments later, when liberal CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers had his turn, he wondered if there had been any girls in schools who had been endangered by the Obama directive, without acknowledging other similar examples outside of a school environment:

Since Barack Obama put this guidance in place, can you name me one instance where there has been a case where a child was put in any type of danger because now they have the ability to go to the restroom that identifies with the gender that they choose?

After Sellers finished, Harlow turned to Stewart and followed up: "Quickly, before I go to David, Alice, do you want to respond to that? Can you name an instance?"

After Stewart was unable to name an example off the top of her head, Harlow reiterated: "But just to be clear here, to put a button on it, no incident in any school you can point to of this happening and endangering any child or student."

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Thursday, February 23, CNN Newsroom:

9:09 a.m. ET

CHARMAINE YOEST, AMERICAN VALUES: And frankly, Poppy, as a woman, I'm concerned that one of the most important voices that has come out of this whole debate are sexual abuse survivors. We have to ensure that we maintain safe spaces for young women and girls in locker rooms and bathrooms and that those women are also-

POPPY HARLOW: Absolutely, but can you point to one -- Charmaine, since you bring that up -- absolutely, but since you bring that up, can you point to one incident where a transgender individual has inflicted harm on the people you're talking about?

YOEST: The real issue is the opening that it provides for sexual predators. This makes it much more difficult for law enforcement agencies to identify people who might be using this as a way to get access to young girls and women and, frankly, Poppy, I would challenge people to look it up. There are multiple examples of people doing this. So it's something that should be-

HARLOW: Of trans, I mean, you can't -- you need to back up that assertion with facts on this program.

YOEST  Oh, well, look, you know, I can give you multiple examples, and it's documented very well on the internet, so you can see law enforcement being concerned about the fact that this makes it harder for them. We're not talking about -- it's really all about people using this as an opportunity to say, "Hey, the law has changed, I now have access to these girls in a bathroom."

HARLOW: I wish you would provide those sources for what you're talking about on the internet.

YOEST: Sure, I absolutely can.

HARLOW: You can send those to us, but, David, to you, civil rights-

YOEST  I'm happy to.

HARLOW: Thank you. Civil rights groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, have come out with this statement: "The administration has contributed to the baseless hysteria and panic that puts so many vulnerable transgender youth at risk." When you look at the FBI statistics, in 2015, 118 transgender hate crimes were committed. How do you believe the Trump administration can answer to its critics on this one before this is all hashed out at the Supreme Court level?

DAVID SWERDLICK: Yeah, Poppy, I'd put three questions to the Trump administration and to Charmaine there. One, on the politics, as you pointed out, President Trump campaigned and said several times that he was going to be a great friend or words to that effect to the LGBT community. Yet, he's kind of prioritized this move in the early days of his administration. 

Second thing is if Republicans are characterizing this as a states' rights issue, will they be consistent on states' rights as they go forward on other issues? For instance, will they take the states' rights posture with states that have, you know, laws that legalize marijuana? What will Attorney General Sessions's view be on those laws?

And then, lastly, I would say, "Yes," as Charmaine brought up, "sexual assault victims and survivors have to have a voice in this discussion," but that's the challenge here, right? It has to be balanced against the voice of transgender individuals who do face -- especially youth -- disproportionate, you know, violence and bullying, etc., in schools.

(...)

10:05 a.m. ET

POPPY HARLOW: As someone who worked in communications for Senator Ted Cruz, who was so much more outspoken on issues like the transgender school bathroom issue during the campaign who took a much more clear stance on social issues than the current President, how do you square what the White House has done here -- pulling back on this federal guideline -- and then what candidate Trump said about being a protector of LGBTQ individuals on the campaign trail? Let's listen.

DONALD TRUMP CLIP #1 FROM REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION: As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of the hateful foreign ideology. Believe me.

TRUMP CLIP #2 FROM REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION: And I have to say, as a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said. Thank you.

HARLOW: So how do you square the two, Alice?

(...)

BAKARI SELLERS: Let me say first that this is not a states' rights issue. This is a civil rights issue. The American government has the duty to protect all citizens, no matter their race, color, creed or sexual orientation. Donald Trump on the campaign trail said that he would be a great friend to the LGBTQ community. And with friends like this, I guess, who needs enemies? That fact is that, as you said, Attorney General Sessions could have started out talking about immigration reform or terrorism or criminal justice reform. There are so many things that under the Department of Justice that he could have spoken out against. But Attorney General Sessions is who we thought he was. 

And so, to pick on a vulnerable class like this and just to comment briefly on my good friend Alice Stewart. Since Barack Obama put this guidance in place, can you name me one instance where there has been a case where a child was put in any type of danger because now they have the ability to go to the restroom that identifies with the gender that they choose? And I think that what we're seeing throughout this country now is this veil being taken off, and many kids are going to feel unsafe, and many kids are going to go through depression. And, you know, I feel deeply troubled by this move, but, again, elections have consequences, and Attorney General Sessions is exactly who we thought he was.

HARLOW: Quickly, before I go to David, Alice, do you want to respond to that? Can you name an instance?

ALICE STEWART: Sure. In terms of the schools, no, I can honestly say I can't, but I certainly don't want to wait for something to happen before we take action. However, you do recall that there have been numerous cases with regard to Target and their transgender dressing rooms.

And that is a concern. We don't need to have any more incidents happen before we take action. I think it's important to do this. More than anything, children, when they go to school, it's a safe zone. They are supposed to be safe and protected, and there are many parents who feel that this violated that safety, and that's a big part of why this decision was made.

HARLOW: But just to be clear here, to put a button on it, no incident in any school you can point to of this happening and endangering any child or student.

Brad Wilmouth
Brad Wilmouth is a contributing blogger to NewsBusters