Appearing as a panel member on Thursday's Anderson Cooper 360, CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour went on a rant against Steve Bannon and the Donald Trump White House over their criticism of the media, as she likened the administration to "totalitarian regimes" and suggested that they were "angling for an order of merit" from the presidents of Egypt, Russia and Turkey.
She also hearkened back to the George W. Bush administration whom she accused of "rushing to war," presumably referring to Iraq. But she then seemed to incorrectly claim that President Bush had accused the press of siding with the terrorists if he objected to their coverage, even though Bush's line that "you're either with us or you're with the terrorists" came immediately after the 9/11 attacks and was aimed at countries like Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan and Iran as the U.S. prepared for retaliation against the Afghanistan-based Taliban regime.
At 8:35 p.m. ET, host Anderson Cooper brought up Bannon's recent criticism of the media:
I want to ask you on this other subject, something Steve Bannon said today, an interview he gave to the New York Times. He said, quote, "The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for awhile."
Amanpour slammed the Trump advisor as she began:
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Steve Bannon is playing the role that he set out for himself. There is obviously some sort of strategy here or it's hard for me to comprehend it because, you know, I operate in the truth and the fact-based universe. But he's playing a strategy which involves creating straw men and women, creating an enemy out of the press, and then, you know, dividing, diverting, obfuscating while other things are going on. That's the only thing I can imagine. Obviously, there are many other -- I want to say -- totalitarian regimes in the past which used this same kind of strategy.
And, I mean, if I was going to be funny, I'd say that he's angling for an order of merit from Presidents Sisi, Putin, Erdogan, and all the others. That's how they treat their press. That is what they believe the press should be -- a pliant, state propaganda unit in the service of the President. It is not the tradition of the American press. So of course we're not going to shut up. And why should we? And what have we done wrong? And why should we be humiliated about what? The story was right, we reported the story. Whatever it is, we got it right. The polls were right.
After conservative CNN political commentator and NewsBusters contributor Jeffrey Lord reminded Amanpour that the dominant media inaccurately predicted that Hillary Clinton would defeat Trump, she continued:
That wasn't the polls. That's sort of a prediction. The polls were right, which is why -- the national polls, I'm saying. Obviously, he won the election. But isn't this why all this sort of hysteria has started? Because there's a real anger about this idea of the popular vote. And, suddenly, we have to be the enemy. Well, we can't allow others to frame our reference. We are not the opposition. We're not the mainstream -- we're the press.
Moments later, Lord recalled that distrust toward the media has been increasing for decades:
You've had this increasing bonfire being built about the national media, and that it has a liberal tilt to it. We've now gotten to the point where so many millions of Americans believe that to be gospel. So what Steve Bannon is basically saying is, at this point, yeah, this is it, this is a real problem. And I saw that Ari Fleischer -- President Bush 43's press secretary -- said the other day that there's a massive crisis here for the media. I think there is, and I think every individual institution is going to wind up fighting for its credibility, and this White House is not going to help them.
Amanpour took aim at former President Bush as she responded:
He witnessed a massive crisis in his President's administration. There was this rush to war by the Bush administration, and the press was accused of being either with the terrorists or unpatriotic if we even reported the objective facts. This is unfortunately an unpleasant tradition that we have to understand why it's happening. We have to be calm, be united and do our jobs because we're not going to allow others -- particularly the seats of power -- to be our frame of reference.