On CNN, Pat Smith Blasts 'Dirt' Treatment From Media Over RNC Speech

On Monday's CNN Newsroom, Patricia Smith hammered the media over their clear double standard between the often-negative way they treated her anti-Hillary Clinton speech at the Republican National Convention versus their hyping of Khizr Khan's anti-Donald Trump speech at the Democratic National Convention: "I was treated like dirt. I don't think the Khan family was treated that way. But I was treated like dirt. I was called a liar." Anchor Brooke Baldwin pressed Smith to condemn Trump's counter-attack on Khan and his wife. [video below]

Baldwin led into her interview of the Benghazi mother by noting that Trump "isn't the only candidate facing backlash here. Hillary Clinton being criticized again by one of the most vocal parents...of the slain Americans in Benghazi." She continued by playing clips from Smith's speech at the RNC, followed by part of Clinton's reply on Sunday's Fox News Sunday. She also included a soundbite of the Democratic presidential candidate rebuking Smith at a March 2016 debate on Univision: "She's absolutely wrong...the President, the Vice President, Susan Rice — we were scrambling to get information that was changing literally by the hour."

The CNN journalist first asked her guest, "Do you think what Mr. Trump has said about the Khan family — do you think it's acceptable? Do you think it's okay?" Smith replied, "I think that anybody that loses a child should be allowed the grief that goes along with it...you shouldn't have anybody telling you that you can't think that way."

Baldwin followed up by pointing out that Trump "questioned initially why she [Mrs. Khan] didn't speak — was it, perhaps, because of her religion?..she says she didn't speak because she was too emotionally distraught. As a grieving mother all these years later, could you relate to that?" The RNC speaker confirmed that she could relate: "When somebody cries over their child — like I have many, many, many times — that's what you feel."

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The anchor spent four more questions trying to get Smith to rebuke the billionaire presidential nominee over the Khan controversy:

BROOKE BALDWIN: Do you think...it's okay...whether it's DNC or the RNC; whether you like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump...for any politician or any candidate to criticize or say anything other than their own condolences for a family in grief?

SMITH: I'm not going to tell anybody what they should say. They should say what they feel. And if that's the way he felt, that's his business to feel that way and to say that.

(...)

BALDWIN: We know, though, because of this, Ms. Smith, that...so many Republican leaders are condemning his words...do political leaders have any kind of right to publicly question a grieving family?

SMITH: No. I don't think anybody should say anything about that. The grieving family is grieving because they are grieving — no other reason other than that — as I was grieving. The—

BALDWIN: Do you think he should apologize, as these Gold Star families are asking for him to do — Mr. Trump?

SMITH: No, I don't. That's what he believed.

BALDWIN: But did you just say that it's not okay to say those things if a family is grieving? Do you not agree that that was inappropriate?

SMITH: I'm not going to put any words into Donald's mouth. He is saying what he believes that he should say. I don't see anything wrong with that. They haven't jumped on Hillary for anything that she has said...I'm not going to knock him for that.

Baldwin then asked about how Trump called into Fox News as she gave her convention speech: "CNN took you live the entire time. And when you were speaking, Patricia, on that stage, Mr. Trump called in to Fox News Channel to have a conversation about why he should be elected president, instead of listening to you. Does that bother you?"

Smith unleashed her attack on the media when the CNN journalist later asked about the presidential campaign in general: "You're a mother whose voice should be heard. We have 99 days to go until it's Election Day. How do you feel about the tone — both parties; the divisiveness?" Baldwin ended the interview by wondering, "What should this election be about? What is America about?" The RNC speaker responded, in part, that "it should be about honesty....I was told so much bull crap about Benghazi; and...most of the things I heard were lies — absolute, outright lies — and the government never got back to me like they promised."

The full transcript of Brooke Baldwin's interview of Patricia Smith on the August 1, 2016 edition of CNN Newsroom:

BROOKE BALDWIN: Donald Trump's controversial back and forth with the family of a fallen Muslim-American soldier — it is escalating. Trump now being accused of using anti-Muslim rhetoric, after he questioned the mother's decision not to speak there on stage last week in Philadelphia. But he isn't the only candidate facing backlash here. Hillary Clinton being criticized again by one of the most vocal parents in the slain American — of the slain Americans in Benghazi. Patricia Smith's son, Sean, was among the four Americans killed in the September 2012 attack. Since then, she has made her voice heard — doubling down again at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, and prompting a response from Secretary Clinton.

[CNN Graphic: "2016 Race: Gold Star Families: Trump's Remarks 'Repugnant'"]

PATRICIA SMITH, MOTHER OF AMERICAN WHO DIED IN BENGHAZI (from speech at 2016 Republican National Convention): I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son. That's personally. How could she do this to me? How could she do this to any American family?

HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE (from Fox's Fox News Sunday): My heart goes out to both of them. I understand the grief and the incredible sense of loss that can motivate that.

[CNN Graphic: "Pat Smith: I Blame Clinton 'Personally' For Son's Death"]

BALDWIN: And I also just want to play you some sound from Hillary Clinton when she was participating in a debate back in March — asked about this.

CLINTON (from March 9, 2016 Democratic presidential debate on Univision): You know, look, I feel a great deal of sympathy for the families of the four brave Americans that we lost at Benghazi. And I certainly can't even imagine the grief that she has for losing her son. But she's wrong. She's absolutely wrong. I, and everybody in the administration — all the people she named — the President, the Vice President, Susan Rice — we were scrambling to get information that was changing literally by the hour.

BALDWIN: She was asked if she had lied to this woman. Patricia Smith is joining me now. Again, Pat, thank you so much for joining me. We've spoken before. And I'm so sorry for the loss of your — of your son, Sean.

SMITH: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Let's just begin with — do you think what Mr. Trump has said about the Khan family — do you think it's acceptable? Do you think it's okay?

SMITH: I think that anybody that loses a child should be allowed the grief that goes along with it. When you lose your child, that's — that's all you can think about; and you shouldn't have anybody telling you that you can't think that way.

BALDWIN: As a mother, when you saw Mrs. Khan up on the stage in Philadelphia, you know — and it was Mr. Trump who, sort of, questioned initially why she didn't speak — was it, perhaps, because of her religion? We know — she says she didn't speak because she was too emotionally distraught. As a grieving mother all these years later, could you relate to that?

[CNN Graphic: "Backlash Grows Over Trump's Clash With Muslim Family"]

SMITH: Of course, I can relate to that. When somebody cries over their child — like I have many, many, many times — that's what you feel. There's nothing wrong with feeling like that. That comes with the territory. I don't agree with Hillary, though.

[CNN Graphic: "Father Of Fallen Soldier: Trump Ignorant & Arrogant; Soldier's Mother: I Close Not To Speak At DNC; Trump questioned if fallen soldier's mother allowed to speak at convention"]

BALDWIN: Before I ask you about Secretary Clinton though, do you think it — it's okay — whether — whether it's DNC or the RNC; whether you like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump — you know, for — for any politician or any candidate to criticize or — or say anything other than their own condolences for a family in grief?

SMITH: I'm not going to tell anybody what they should say. They should say what they feel. And if that's the way he felt, that's his business to feel that way and to say that.

BALDWIN: His being Mr. Trump?

SMITH: Yes.

BALDWIN: We know, though, because of this, Ms. Smith, that all — so many Republican leaders are condemning his words. I mean, do political leaders have any kind of right to publicly question a grieving family?

[CNN Graphic: "GOP Leaders Rip Trump For Clash With Muslim Family"]

SMITH: No. I don't think anybody should say anything about that. The grieving family is grieving because they are grieving — no other reason other than that — as I was grieving. The—

BALDWIN: Do you think he should apologize, as these Gold Star families are asking for him to do — Mr. Trump?

SMITH: No, I don't. That's what he believed.

BALDWIN: But did you just say that it's not okay to say those things if a family is grieving? Do you not agree that that was inappropriate?

SMITH: I'm — I'm not going to — I'm not going to put any words into Donald's mouth. He is saying what he believes that he should say. I don't see anything wrong with that. They haven't jumped on Hillary for anything that she has said, and she has said 90 times more — more about things than — than the Donald has. I'm not going to knock him for that.

BALDWIN: And I wanted to have you on because I think it is absolutely fair to criticize — equal criticism of both of these — you know, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

But — but I have to ask — you know, you personally — at the RNC, when you spoke — and it was — it was — I mean, I listened to your entire speech. It was incredibly emotional. And at the time, CNN took you live the entire time. And when you were speaking, Patricia, on that stage, Mr. Trump called in to Fox News Channel to have a conversation about why he should be elected president, instead of listening to you. Does that bother you?

SMITH: Not a bit. I don't know what he does and why he does it or anything. I do know that I like Donald Trump, and I do believe in what he says — not every piece that he says, because I don't know. He didn't — he didn't tell me in advance what he was going to say. I'm not going to comment on it.

BALDWIN: Okay. I know you've been involved in this campaign season. You're — you're a mother whose voice should be heard. We have 99 days to go until it's Election Day. How do you feel about the tone — both parties; the divisiveness?

SMITH: Well, that's absolutely crazy. That's not what America is supposed to be about. I don't agree with most of the stuff that gets thrown around on TV. I don't agree with half of that.

I do complain mightily about — well, you're not saying it, but I — I'm very much against the way I was treated. I was treated like dirt. I don't think the — the Khan family was treated that way. But I was treated like dirt. I was called a liar. They — she went on TV many times and nodding her head — thinking that she is so wonderful and she knows everything; and I know nothing and I was just imagining this. I don't imagine my son getting killed. I don't imagine that at all. But why would she say that to me; and what did say she to the Khans? I don't know. I'm still—

BALDWIN: I cannot begin—

SMITH: We have — we have a rotten government—

BALDWIN: I cannot begin to understand what you're walking through. No, I can't begin to understand what you're walking through. And I wanted to make sure we continue [to] hear your concerns and your voice. Let me just quickly — final question: you said this is not what America is about with regard to this election. Final question: what — what should this election be about? What is America about?

SMITH: It should be about honesty. If you say something, mean it. If you don't mean it, don't say it. I was told so much bull crap about Benghazi; and most of it — most of the things I heard were lies — absolute, outright lies — and the government never got back to me like they promised. Hillary promised she would get back to me and tell me what happened. I don't know why my son is dead. I don't know why he was there. And I was told I am not a member of the immediate family, and I do not deserve to know.

I don't know if the Khans were told the same thing or not. You bring me out here to — to say things that — I don't know. I want answers, and I want answers about why my son is dead and why she made the decisions that she made. I don't like her decisions. I don't think she'll make a very good — any kind of good president. I don't like her decisions. She kills people.

BALDWIN: Patricia Smith — strong words. I cannot begin to understand your grief. I appreciate you coming on. I understand that you had wanted to come on — or the Trump campaign. So we appreciate you taking the time to come on. Ms. Smith, thank you again so much. And I am so sorry, all these years later, about your son, Sean; and I hope you get the answers that you so, so deserve. Thank you.

SMITH: Thank you.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center