The media must be exhausted from constantly moving the goal posts. First, it was why won't Republicans condemn President Trump and his tweets, then the condemnation was not sufficient and now, according to CNN Newsroom co-host Jim Sciutto are damaging the state of political discourse by calling the four Democratic congresswomen "whack jobs."
On Tuesday Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy told Tucker Carlson that "The Squad" is the reason that there are directions on shampoo and declared them to be "whack jobs." Kennedy joined an incensed Sciutto on Wednesday to talk about it.
Sciutto told Kennedy that he was "insulting their intelligence" and with President Trump now quoting him, asked Kennedy, "Do you think your words helped or hurt dialogue on this issue?"
Kennedy, who is one of the Senate's more colorful personalities, responded by saying, "I don't know the answer to that, but they are heartfelt." Sciutto was not convinced, "Heartfelt to call sitting congresswomen whack jobs?" Kennedy did not back down, "Yeah, I believe that. I believe the four congresswomen are more famous than wise."
Kennedy and Sciutto then got into a lengthy back and forth whether the four congresswomen hated America.
When it was time for the segment to come to an end, Sciutto tried to end by telling Kennedy, "Right, we will disagree on whether criticizing a country constitutes hate, but Senator I do appreciate," but Kennedy wouldn't let that be the last word:
Wait, Jim, it's the degree of criticism and it's the way you criticize. I don't think it's fair -- I don't think it lifts America up to be anti-immigrant. I also don't think it lifts America up to call people queers. I don't think it lifts America up to spread anti-Jewish tropes and say it's all about the Benjamins. I don’t think any of this lifts America up.
With the interview over, co-host Poppy Harlow completed the goal post move saying, "And to say they're more famous than they are wise, you can disagree on principle and policy but you seem to be questioning their intellect there."
Of all declines in civic discourse over the years, this is what got Sciutto and Harlow upset? Not decades of Democrats accusing everyone of racism and sexism or the questioning of Trump's mental health and 25th Amendment delusions. Not Sciutto himself saying Trump is going to cause us all to burn to death, but "whack jobs" and a joke about shampoo bottles.
Here is a transcript for the July 17 interview:
9:39 AM ET
JIM SCIUTTO: Welcome back. This morning Republican lawmakers continuing to stand behind President Trump as outrage builds over his racist comments and tweets. With me now is Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana. Senator, we appreciate you taking the time this morning.
JOHN KENNEDY: Thanks, Jim. Thanks for having me, man.
SCIUTTO: So last night you were on Fox News. You referred to The Squad, as these four congresswomen are known. You said the reason that there are -- that there's a reason there are directions on a shampoo bottle, in effect, it would seem insulting their intelligence and you called them whack jobs and this morning the president’s actually quoting you. I just want to ask you, we’ve had a lot of conversations on this program, do you think your words have helped or hurt the dialogue on this issue?
KENNEDY: I don't know the answer to that, but they are heartfelt.
SCIUTTO: Heartfelt to call sitting congresswomen whack jobs?
KENNEDY: Yeah, I believe that. I believe the four congresswomen are more famous than wise. Look, this is America. They're entitled to their beliefs. They are Americans. I'm entitled to mine, Jim.
SCIUTTO: But is that -- you said yourself “I'm not sure the president should exchange playground insults with them.” Aren't these playground insults?
KENNEDY: I guess from one point of view you could make that argument. But if it were up to me I would follow the advice I gave the president and say let's don't engage in these playground insults. But we're in them. And if you'll give me a moment I'll share with you my perspective on it.
SCIUTTO: Please, I want to hear your perspective.
KENNEDY: I don't think the president is a racist. I did not believe his original tweet was racist. I thought it was a poor choice of words and it worried me that some immigrants in America -- we're a nation of immigrants -- would be offended by his words. He quickly clarified, and here's what I hear the president saying now.
SCIUTTO: Go ahead because I'm curious how you think the president clarified his comments.
KENNEDY: This is what I hear the president saying. This is not China, this is not North Korea, this is America. If you hate America, if you think America was wicked in its origins, if you think that most Americans today including but not limited to white people are evil, racist --
SCIUTTO: Right, we will disagree on whether criticizing a country constitutes hate, but Senator I do appreciate --
KENNEDY: Wait, Jim, it's the degree of criticism and it's the way you criticize. I don't think it's fair -- I don't think it lifts America up to be anti-immigrant. I also don't think it lifts America up to call people queers. I don't think it lifts America up to spread anti-Jewish tropes and say it's all about the Benjamins. I don’t think any of this lifts America up
SCIUTTO: On that issue, I think we'll agree. Senator, we'll have to leave it there but I do appreciate you taking the time and having the conversation.
KENNEDY: Thanks, man.
POPPY HARLOW: That was a really important conversation.
SCIUTTO: I just find it -- those kinds of charges that they hate America or they believe most people are racist, you know, in this country, they're getting thrown around all the time certainly by the president as well, often easily disproven. But at least without corroboration.
HARLOW: And to say they're more famous than they are wise, you can disagree on principle and policy but you seem to be questioning their intellect there.