On Thursday's The Lead, during a discussion of President Donald Trump's just concluded press conference, both host Jake Tapper and Jeffrey Toobin oddly made the same mistake in wrongly claiming that President Trump had stated that he could "only" speak for himself about whether his campaign colluded with Russia.
In fact, what the President actually stated was that he could "always" speak for himself as he also claimed that his campaign "certainly" did not collude. Oddly enough, even though CNN replayed the relevant Trump soundbite during the discussion, neither Tapper nor Toobin even noticed they were misquoting him.
At 4:45 p.m. ET, Toobin brought up the issue of Trump's word choice as he began:
Can I just raise one point about what I thought the President said that I thought was interesting and perhaps a clue to how things may unfold in the future? He was asked about "Was there any collusion between him, his campaign, and Russia?" And he said very categorically, "I did not." But then he said, "Speaking for myself, I did not."
Host Tapper had the same thought as he injected: "Yeah, let me -- let me interrupt you one second, Jeff, because I heard that, too, and I asked them to cut that sound. Let me play you that right now."
Then came a clip of President Trump:
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-- but the entire thing has been a witch hunt, and there is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign, but I can always speak for myself and the Russians. Zero. I think it divides the country. I think we have a very divided country because of that and many other things.
Even though the President did not state that he could "only" speak for himself -- which would indeed have been an indication of claiming a neutral opinion on what others in his campaign might have done -- Tapper moved to claim that the President nevertheless did make such a statement as the CNN host followed up:
And there it is, Jeff, as you know, he said, "certainly myself and my campaign, but I can only speak for myself." So, in a way, he just said, "There was no collusion, but I can only speak for myself. I can't speak for my campaign."
Toobin agreed as he expanded on his own analysis:
Right. If I were Paul Manafort or Michael Flynn or Carter Page or even his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, all of whom had contacts between -- with the Russians of one kind or another -- I would be very -- somewhat uncomfortable hearing that answer. And, you know, it is certainly fertile ground for the Mueller investigation and for the congressional investigations to determine "Well, if he didn't, who did? And if they had these contacts, why did they have those contacts? And did they discuss those contacts with candidate Trump?"
If CNN's listening is this bad, why should the audience trust its interpretation of news events? Toobin just kept on spinning:
I mean, you know, that's where these investigations start to get complicated, and that's why, in part, they take a long time. So, you know, this was a very categorical denial on his part regarding his behavior, but, as for his campaign, it was a lot more cautious and less definitive.