BBC Journalist to Donald Trump: Your ‘Alarming Beliefs’ Worry Brits

A BBC journalist on Friday confronted Donald Trump at a joint White House press conference with Britain’s Prime Minister and lectured the President about his “alarming briefs.” Another question at the press conference featured a reporter wondering how Trump and Theresa May could possibly get along. 

Laura Kuenssberg’s long prologue to her question began: “Mr. President, you said before that torture worked. You praised Russia. You have said you want to ban some Muslims from coming to America. You suggested there should be punishment for abortion.” She continued, fretting, “For many people in Britain those sound like alarming beliefs. What do you say to our viewers at home who are worried about some of your views and worried about you becoming the leader of the free world?” 

Kuenssberg began the query by demanding of May: “Can you tell us where in your talks you did disagree? And do you think that the President listened to what you had to say?” 

Trump looked at May and jokingly wondered, “This was your choice of a question?” 

The journalists at ABC fixated on the BBC question. World News Tonight anchor David Muir chided, “The Prime Minister of Britain, Theresa May, answering that question without pointing out any differences they might have discussed.” 

Terry Moran huffed about European "values": 

But what that reporter was getting at is still out in the air here in Britain, right across Europe. And that's not a difference in interests, it's a difference in values. And it is what President Trump has said about torture, about Muslims, about immigration, about other things that has alarmed many people in Europe, majorities who do not share those values.

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Tom Newton Dunn of the British Sun appeared baffled that May and Trump could possibly get along: 

...People are fascinated to know how you're going to get on with each other. You are so different. The hard working daughter of a vicar, the brash TV extrovert. Have you found anything in common personally yet? 

This question sounds familiar to a February 23, 2001 question to George W. Bush about Tony Blair: 

Q.: A question for both of you. There has been a lot said about how different you are as people. Have you already in your talks found something maybe that you—some personal interest that you have in common, maybe in religion or sport or music?

President Bush. Well, we both use Colgate toothpaste.

Transcripts of the January 27 questions from the press conference and some of ABC's coverage can be found  below: 

Donald Trump/Theresa May press conference
1/27/17

1:17        

STEVE HOLLAND (Reuters): You're going to be speaking tomorrow with the Russian president. What message would you like to convey to him? How close are you to lifting some of the sanctions imposed on Russia its Ukraine incursion what would you expect in return and Prime Minister May, you foresee changes in British attitudes toward sanctions on Russia? 

1:19

LAURA KUENSSBERG (BBC political editor): Thank you very much, Prime Minister. Laura Kuenssberg, BBC News. Prime Minister, you talked about where you agree. But you have also said you would be frank where you disagree with the President. Can you tell us where in our talks you did disagree. And do you think that the President listened to what you had to say? And Mr. President, you —

DONALD TRUMP: Absolutely.

KUENSSBERG: We’ll see what she says. Mr. President, you've said before that torture works. You praised Russia. You have said you want to ban some Muslims from coming to America. You've suggested there should be punishment for abortion. For many people in Britain, those sound like alarming beliefs. What do you say to our viewers at home who are worried about some of your views and worried about you becoming the leader of the free world?

DONALD TRUMP [To May]: This was your choice of a question?     

1:23

JOHN ROBERTS (Fox): Mr. President, thank you so much. Madame prime minister. It's my understanding Mr. President that you had an hour long phone call this morning with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico. Could we get an update on where the relationship is? Further to that what do you say to your critic who claim that you have already soured a relationship with a very important U.S. ally. And madame prime minister if I may ask you, are you concerned about the state of relations between the United States and Mexico? 

1:26

TOM NEWTON DUNN (The Sun): Mr. President, you’ve said you would help us with the Brexit trade deal. You’ve said you would stand by us with NATO, but how can the British Prime Minister believe you? Because you have been known in the past to change your position on things. And also, as a question to both of you, people are fascinated to know how you're going to get on with each other. You are so different. The hard working daughter of a vicar, the brash TV extrovert. Have you found anything in common personally yet? 

ABC post-press conference coverage

1/27/17

1:30

DAVID MUIR: He was asked, President Trump was asked by a reporter by the BBC about where they disagreed. Also the prime minister, she asked that question of the prime minister as well, saying about torture in recent days what the president had told me during the interview about abortion rights, about the immigration ban saying that this would bother some of the people back in the U.K., some of these positions. The prime minister of Britain Theresa May answering that question without pointing out any differences they might have discussed, but said we'll work on this relationship, signaling she doesn't mind pointing out her differences.

...

MUIR: I want to bring in our foreign correspondent, Terry Moran who is with us from London. Terry, I know the people of the U.K. are watching this very closely and you heard that very pointed question from that reporter from the BBC, trying to get at the differences between the two leaders but they didn't really bite on that. 

TERRY MOAN: They didn't.

...

MORAN: But what that reporter was getting at is still out in the air here in Britain, right across Europe. And that's not a difference in interests, it's a difference in values. And it is what President Trump has said about torture, about Muslims, about immigration, about other things that has alarmed many people in Europe, majorities who do not share those value.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the associate editor for the Media Research Center's NewsBusters.org site.