CNN's Cabrera Baffled at Ben Stein Finding Anti-Trump Minhaj Jokes 'Sickening'

As Ben Stein appeared as a guest on Sunday's CNN Newsroom, host Ana Cabrera was visibly surprised that the right-leaning actor and economist slammed Hasan Minhaj's anti-Donald Trump jokes as "sickening" as the two discussed the liberal comedian's appearance at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Stein also called out the media as a "joke" and a "sharp instrument of the left" that are constantly "attacking" President Trump.

At 7:27 p.m. ET, Cabrera introduced the segment:

The annual White House Correspondents' Dinner took place in the nation's capital last night without the usual guest of honor. President Donald Trump decided to skip this event, and instead attend a rally in Pennsylvania. Comedian Hasan Minhaj pulled no punches in Trump's absence.

After showing a couple of clips featuring Minhaj calling President Trump the "liar-in-chief," and joking about Russian President Vladimir Putin being the leader of the U.S., Cabrera brought aboard Stein and began by asking:

Ben, you had previously defended Mr. Trump's decision to skip this dinner, saying he's a punching bag day after day in the media. Do you still feel that that's the case? Is this justified taking that position after watching the show?

Stein immediately railed against Minhaj as he began: "I thought what Mr. Minhaj said was sickening. Frankly, I felt like vomiting, and I couldn't watch it for very long."

Confused, Cabrera exclaimed, "Why?!"

The right-leaning actor and former Nixon administration speech writer took aim at the media as he continued:

I think it's stunning to belittle and attack and mock a President at such a base and villainous level, and to describe him as a Soviet agent and "liar-in-chief," especially to the media. The media is a joke in this situation. First of all, they're the ones who built him up. Without the media, he would still be back running casinos somewhere.

He has played the media fantastically well. The media is not his enemy. He has cleverly made the media his main ally, and the media is laughing as if they think they're somebody great and holy and neutral and above it all. They're not above it all.

Stein continued excoriating the media as he added:

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They are a sharp instrument of the left in this country, and -- but Trump has managed to turn it on its head and make them the bad guys out there in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and places he was never expected to win. So, I mean, they're laughing -- they should be laughing at themselves, not laughing at him.

Cabrera then tried to defend the media as she responded:

Well, I think the media did laugh at ourselves. He, of course, the comedian also took a lot of jabs at the media through all of this. But, as you point out, I mean, the President has had a contentious relationship with the media, but other Presidents in the past, too, have had similar challenges in dealing with the media.

You know, our job as journalists is to hold their feet to the fire, to hold government -- elected officials accountable. And, of course, Presidents and people in power don't always like that.

Stein argued that the media have been historically hostile to President Trump as he continued:

Well, you know, I, if I may say this, I was a speech writer for President Nixon -- I've always been a fan of President Nixon. Even Nixon was not held up to the same level of ridicule, mockery, and vicious attacks than Trump is.

After admitting that he has been a long-time critic of Trump, the right-leaning economist added:

So I'm not a huge fan of his, but the level of attack on him by the media has been so vicious, I've never seen anything like it. And every day's newspaper has got more stories attacking him, attacking him, attacking him. They just don't give the guy a break.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Sunday, April 30, CNN Newsroom with Ana Cabrera:

7:27 p.m. ET
ANA CABRERA: The annual White House Correspondents' Dinner took place in the nation's capital last night without the usual guest of honor. President Donald Trump decided to skip this event, and instead attend a rally in Pennsylvania. Comedian Hasan Minhaj pulled no punches in Trump's absence.

HASAN MINHAJ, CLIP #1: We got to address the elephant that's not in the room. The leader of our country is not here, and that's because he lives in Moscow. It is a very long flight. It would be hard for Vlad to make it. Vlad can't just make it on a Saturday. It's a Saturday. As for the other guy, I think he's in Pennsylvania because he can't take a joke.

MINHAJ CLIP #2: We are here to talk about the truth. It is 2017, and we are living in the golden age of lying. Now is the time to be a liar, and Donald Trump is liar-in-chief. And, remember, you guys are public enemy number one. You are his biggest enemy -- journalists, ISIS, and normal-length ties. And somehow you're the bad guys.

CABRERA: Comedian, actor, and economist Ben Stein joins us now from Las Angeles. Ben, you had previously defended Mr. Trump's decision to skip this dinner, saying he's a punching bag day after day in the media. Do you still feel that that's the case? Is this justified taking that position after watching the show?

BEN STEIN: I thought what Mr. Minhaj said was sickening. Frankly, I felt like vomiting, and I couldn't watch it for very long.

CABRERA: Why?!

STEIN: I think it's stunning --

CABRERA: What specifically?

STEIN: I think it's stunning to belittle and attack and mock a President at such a base and villainous level, and to describe him as a Soviet agent and "liar-in-chief," especially to the media. The media is a joke in this situation. First of all, they're the ones who built him up. Without the media, he would still be back running casinos somewhere. He has played the media fantastically well. The media is not his enemy. He has cleverly made the media his main ally, and the media is laughing as if they think they're somebody great and holy and neutral and above it all. They're not above it all. 

They are a sharp instrument of the left in this country, and -- but Trump has managed to turn it on its head and make them the bad guys out there in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and places he was never expected to win. So, I mean, they're laughing -- they should be laughing at themselves, not laughing at him.

CABRERA: Well, I think the media did laugh at ourselves. He, of course, the comedian also took a lot of jabs at the media through all of this. But, as you point out, I mean, the President has had a contentious relationship with the media, but other Presidents in the past, too, have had similar challenges in dealing with the media. You know, our job as journalists is to hold their feet to the fire, to hold government -- elected officials accountable. And, of course, Presidents and people in power don't always like that.

STEIN: Well, you know, I, if I may say this, I was a speech writer for President Nixon -- I've always been a fan of President Nixon. Even Nixon was not held up to the same level of ridicule, mockery, and vicious attacks than Trump is. And I want to tell you something -- I am not a big fan of Trump. I was writing in Barron's -- I suspect at least 30 years ago -- that this guy possibly should be held up for criminal charges of fraud and securities fraud.

So I'm not a huge fan of his, but the level of attack on him by the media has been so vicious, I've never seen anything like it. And every day's newspaper has got more stories attacking him, attacking him, attacking him. They just don't give the guy a break.

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