In a combative exchange that aired on the Tuesday edition of ABC’s World News Tonight, chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl hinted to Republican Senator Ted Cruz (Tex.) that he was “un-American” for suggesting that only Syrian refugees who are Christian should be admitted the United States while a moratorium would be placed on those that are Muslim.
Karl spoke with Cruz on Capitol Hill and first asked him bluntly how he would go about addressing the refugee crisis if he were president: “So, what do you do? Do you ask are you a Christian or a Muslim and then you — I mean, how do you do that?”
Before Karl cut Cruz off, the 2016 GOP candidate argued that it’s well documented that Muslims have not tried to pose as Christians in order to commit acts of terrorism: “You know, at the end of the day, it's not that complicated. There's no history of ISIS terrorists embedding in the Christian community and pretending to be Christian.”
The ABC correspondent then pushed back with a strong accusation against Cruz: “And you don't think it's un-American to say, only Christians, no Muslims? You're not — are you suggesting that all Muslims are terrorists? Or a threat of being a terrorist?”
As Karl shouted back that “[t]here are radical Islamic terrorists and there are Muslims who are not,” Cruz repeated himself twice in firing back: “What I’m suggesting is the commander in chief should protect this nation.”
Prior to the exchange, anchor David Muir hyped there was a “fiery debate” in the U.S. with a “backlash against refugees as authorities grow more convinced that one of the attackers posed as a refugee using this passport” as House Speaker Paul Ryan opposed “the President’s plan to welcome 10,000 Syrian refugees to the U.S.”
While the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News didn’t feature testy back-and-forths like ABC offered with Karl and Cruz, the two newscasts did have segments devoted to this refugee debate.
<<<Click on the image below to help us with your tax-deductible gift>>>
<<<Thank you for your support!>>>
On CBS, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes was able to hit Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff (Calif.) from the right on the Syrian refugee issue after he argued that “passport-holding Europeans” pose “greater risks”: “What's wrong with taking a brief pause to make sure that the refugee program is as safe as possible?”
NBC News correspondent Hallie Jackson mentioned the views of Cruz, Ryan, and Jeb Bush but then paired them alongside a profile of a Syrian man named Kamal and his family, who were beaten by policemen connected by Bashar al-Assad before escaping to Houston, Texas.
The transcript of the segment from ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir on November 17 can be found below.
ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir
November 17, 2015
6:43 p.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Anti-Refugee Backlash]
DAVID MUIR: We turn now to the fiery debate back home, the backlash against refugees as authorities grow more convinced that one of the attackers posed as a refugee using this passport and look at the map tonight, at least 29 governors in the U.S. now saying refugees are not welcome. Tonight, House Speaker Paul Ryan calling for a pause in the President's plan to welcome 10,000 Syrian refugees to the U.S., saying it's better to be safe than sorry and just today, Donald Trump, sitting down with our own Barbara Walters. What he says about the issue. On the campaign trail tonight, here's ABC's Jonathan Karl.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: On High Alert; Refugee Rejection; Backlash to Admitting Syrian Refugees]
JONATHAN KARL: Presidential candidate Ted Cruz told ABC News today that he is pushing legislation to ban any Syrian refugees who where Muslim from coming into the United States. [TO CRUZ] So, what do you do? Do you ask are you a Christian or a Muslim and then you — I mean, how do you do that?
REPUBLICAN SENATOR TED CRUZ (Tex.): You know, at the end of the day, it's not that complicated. There's no history of ISIS terrorists embedding in the Christian community and pretending to be Christian.
KARL [TO CRUZ]: And you don't think it's un-American to say, only Christians, no Muslims? You're not — are you suggesting that all Muslims are terrorists? Or a threat of being a terrorist?
CRUZ: What I'm suggesting is the commander in chief needs to protect this nation.
KARL: There are radical Islamic terrorists and there are Muslims who are not.
CRUZ: What I’m suggesting is the commander in chief should protect this nation.
KARL: In an interview with Barbara Walters for 20/20, Donald Trump said he wants to ban all Syrian refugees, Christian and Muslim.
BARBARA WALTERS [TO TRUMP]: Some people are saying that only Christian, not Muslim refugees from Syria should be allowed in. Should we make that test?
DONALD TRUMP: The problem is, we don't know if they're Christian or not and I would certainly say that would be a superior, but we don't know if they're Christian or not. We have no idea who the people are. They have no papers, they have no paperwork. You can get forged documents very easily in Syria.
KARL: The administration says that each refugee goes through extensive background checks by multiple agencies. In fact, David, they say, that process takes 18 to 24 months before a refugee can set foot in the United States.
MUIR: Jon Karl in Washington for us. Jon, thank you and we will have much more of Barbara Walters interview with Donald Trump and his wife, a special edition of 20/20, a Barbara Walters exclusive, this Friday night, 10:00 P.M. Eastern.