Joe Klein: Trump Supporters ‘Are a Real Threat’ to America; ‘I Like Jeb Bush an Awful Lot’

Time columnist Joe Klein followed up his fawning profile of Hillary Clinton in the magazine’s latest issue with an appearance on Charlie Rose’s PBS show Tuesday night where he condemned Donald Trump supporters as “a real threat to this country,” decried the lack of center in American politics and professed his admiration for Jeb Bush.

Near the top of the show, Klein seized his first speaking opportunity to lament that it was “amazing” that “one-third” of New Hampshire voters backed Trump despite him being someone “who doesn't know anything except to say evil things about other people.” 

Rose surprisingly pushed back but Klein interrupted to inform the audience that Trump supporters are “not paying attention” to the news enough and instead “are low-information voters” that pose both “a real threat to this country” and “our standing in the world.”

One can make what they will of those who support Trump, but the liberal media’s degradation of anyone who doesn’t support their liberal candidates often face this barrage of insults and verbal putdowns. Needless to say, Klein’s verbal jousting was only the latest example of that.

Once again, the liberal Rose stepped in to argue that Klein shouldn’t be speaking this way about any group of voters and acknowledge their decisions instead of berating them: “I have a hard time criticizing voters by saying that they're low-information voters. I mean, these are American people who are given the chance to make a choice and they made a choice, whether we like it or not.”

Klein ignored this plea and tripled down along with boasting about the country under President Obama being not dreary at all: “I'm sorry. I just — I think their anger is self-indulgent and I think it's a disaster for the Republican Party. It's a disaster for the country. Things aren't so bad here. You know, it's time that we put this thing into a little bit of perspective.”

Later on, Rose stopped griping with Klein and gushed that he’s “always had a healthy regard for the center in American politics” to which Klein lamented that “[i]t doesn’t exist” anymore. Rose responded by asking:

That's my point. The Democratic Party is moving left, clearly. I mean, is that a reflection of where, perhaps, this new ascendancy, the Obama voters have gone, millennials....almost every other word that came out of Bernie Sanders' mouth in his speech was about being against the establishment, the Wall Street establishment, the political establishment, every establishment, the media establishment.

Tell the Truth 2016

Klein took Rose’s compliment and launched into a series of claims that the Democratic socialist in Bernie Sanders “is that rare American politician who portrays himself as more radical than he actually is” because “his Wall Street programs are, you know, pretty solidly — you know, left liberal, transfer tax on Wall Street transactions, people have been talking about that for years.”

He soon after repeated his argument about life under the Obama administration has been far from a failure: “[B]ut things are pretty good here. As someone who travels the world, I've got to say, you know, I'm much more optimistic about this country than I am about Europe.”

To go along with Rose, Klein, and the rest of the panel offering nice things to say about moderate Republican John Kasich finishing second to Trump in the Granite State, Klein devoted a brief aside to plugging his approval for Jeb Bush: “I like Jeb Bush an awful lot. He is one of the most substantive people out there, perhaps the most substantive person out there.”

The relevant portions of the transcript from PBS’s Charlie Rose on February 9 can be found below.

PBS’s Charlie Rose
February 9, 2016
11:34 p.m. Eastern

JOE KLEIN: Well, two-thirds of the Republicans in New Hampshire didn't vote for Donald Trump and it's amazing that one-third did. This is a guy who doesn't know anything except to say evil things about other people and —

CHARLIE ROSE: But this was a real victory for him. He came here, attacked from every side —

KLEIN: It's a good victory for him but I think we in our business have to be completely honest about this. If you vote for Trump, it means you're not paying attention. These are low-information voters. They are a real threat to this country, they're a real threat to our standing in the world and —

ROSE: I have a hard time criticizing voters by saying that they're low-information voters. I mean, these are American people who are given the chance to make a choice and they made a choice, whether we like it or not. 

KLEIN: I'm sorry, I just — I think their anger is self-indulgent and I think it's a disaster for the Republican Party. It's a disaster for the country. Things aren't so bad here. You know, it's time that we put this thing into a little bit of perspective.

ROSE: But the people who were saying it was bad are the people selected on both sides. 

KLEIN: That's true. 

ROSE: And on the Democratic —

KLEIN: It’s a stunning — I mean, Hillary Clinton got clobbered. She ran, you know, a pretty bad campaign.

(....)

KLEIN: Another part is this. If you look at who did well and who did poorly tonight, the politicians did poorly. It's no accident that John Kasich finished second on the Republican side because he just was out there riffling. He wasn't giving stump speeches and Jeb Bush was. 

ROSE: He had a rather — let's talk about John Kasich and what this means for him and secondly his victory speech which was very sort of humble and he talked about listening and what he had learned which was very different from what anybody else said. 

(....)

ROSE: Joe, you've always had a healthy regard for the center in American politics. 

KLEIN: Yeah. It doesn't exist. 

ROSE: That's my point. The Democratic Party is moving left, clearly. I mean, is that a reflection of where, perhaps, this new ascendancy, the Obama voters have gone, millennials and those people who think the system is fair, almost every other word that came out of Bernie Sanders' mouth in his speech was about being against the establishment, the Wall Street establishment, the political establishment, every establishment, the media establishment. 

KLEIN: Well, I think actually his Wall Street — Bernie is that rare American politician who portrays himself as more radical than he actually is. I mean, when his Wall Street programs are, you know, pretty solidly — you know, left liberal, transfer tax on Wall Street transactions, people have been talking about that for years. It's a good idea, I think, but the problem is this — and we have to look to our — ourselves and the media — we have been presenting to the American people a culture of aggrievement. You know, the way we present them is perpetually aggrieved, and it's just not as true — there is certainly the long-term trends that Dan talked about, globalization and so on, but things are pretty good here. As someone who travels the world, I've got to say, you know, I'm much more optimistic about this country than I am about Europe. 

(....)

KLEIN: I like Jeb Bush an awful lot. He is one of the most substantive people out there, perhaps the most substantive person out there.

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center