Clueless: CNN’s Karem Suggests Trump Doesn’t Deserve ‘Credit’ for Corporate Investments

CNN political analyst, Playboy correspondent, and Sentinel Newspapers editor Brian Karem made a fool of himself during Tuesday’s White House briefing, suggesting to Gary Cohn that it’s “unfair” to give President Trump “credit” for the bounty of businesses announcing employee bonuses and new investments post-tax reform.

Taking a page from MSNBC’s Katy Tur when questioning conservative Congressman Dave Brat (R-Va.), Karem argued that we’ve seen “a litany of — of businesses that are going to give back to the American people, but doesn’t — isn't it unfair to give the president credit for that?” 

 

 

“They already had that money in their coffers, right? I mean, what we’re saying, are they would have not turned it loose otherwise? And then I had a second question for him,” Karem added.

Karem clearly showed zero comprehension for how businesses sat on money and didn’t invest it during the previous eight years because of a less-than-hospitable business climate. If you’re a business executive and you know that any money spent on growing your operations will be consumed by, say, new regulations, you don’t spend that money.

It’s not particularly surprising since this is a person who works in the Washington D.C. area and his Sentinel Newspapers serve the D.C. suburb of Montgomery County, Maryland where the economy is government-dependent.

Cohn blasted Karem, stating that “I disagree with your premise completely” before continuing: 

If they had their money in the coffers, they could have done it last year or the year before or the year before. It seems like, not seems like, since we have passed the tax reform plan, all these announcements have been made and if you look specifically at the words in most of these press releases, all of them are talking about the regulatory relief...and we've seen tax plan mentioned directly, that companies now feel more comfortable about the economic position they're in. They feel better about the U.S. economy....and they feel like the lower tax rate allows them to share more of their potential earnings with their employees.

Moments later on a different topic, BroadbandCensus correspondent Andrew Feinberg asked National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster about Trump being the inspiration behind worldwide crackdowns on the freedom of the press and his supposed refusal to stand up for human rights.

McMaster took a similar track that Cohen did with Karem, informing Feinberg that “it’s just not true” and “not accurate that the President hasn't spoken loudly, both in words and in deeds against those that violate human rights.”

He rattled off a series of speeches from Trump’s first year in office that explicitly mentioned human rights and examples in which the President acted against totalitarian regimes in Cuba, North Korea, and Syria that, naturally, dislike the freedom of the press.

“The list goes on. So this premise — I mean, this false premise that the President hasn't spoken on human rights, it's demonstrably false in words but also in deeds. Thanks for that question, though,” McMaster concluded.

Here’s the relevant transcript from January 23's White House press briefing:

White House press briefing
January 23, 2018
3:56 p.m. Eastern

BRIAN KAREM: First question. On your economic — as far as economic growth, we just had a litany of — of businesses that are going to give back to the American peoplem, but doesn’t — isn't it unfair to give the President credit for that? They already had that money in their coffers, right? I mean, what we’re saying, are they would have not turned it loose otherwise? And then I had a second question for him. 

GARY COHN: Well, I — I disagree with your premise completely. Look. If they had their money in the coffers, they could have done it last year or the year before or the year before. It seems like, not seems like, since we have passed the tax reform plan, all these announcements have been made and if you look specifically at the words in most of these press releases, all of them are talking about the regulatory relief which we saw in the J.P. Morgan announcement and we've seen tax plan mentioned directly, that companies now feel more comfortable about the economic position they're in. They feel better about the U.S. economy.  They feel more confident about their earnings and they feel like the lower tax rate allows them to share more of their potential earnings with their employees. So I think there's a 100 percent correlation between what we've seen these, almost close to 200 companies do, and what we have done from a regulatory standpoint and a tax policy standpoint. 

(....)

ANDREW FEINBERG: One for the general also. General McMaster, there's been reports in recently that leaders, authoritarian leaders in other countries, particularly in southeast Asia, are using one of the President's favorite phrases, “fake news” to describe reporting that is not flattering and reflects poorly on their country and reports inconvenient truths. President Trump has made a point of not publicly talking about things like human rights and freedom of speech, freedom of expression. Is he concerned at all or are you concerned that the President's rhetoric, combined with his silence on these issues, is creating a climate where authoritarian leaders feel they have free reign to do what they want and the United States will not speak up publicly? 

H.R. MCMASTER: Well, it's just not true. It's just not accurate that the President hasn't spoken loudly, both in words and in deeds against those that violate human rights. So I would ask you to go to his speech that he delivered in Warsaw. He talked about the importance of individual rights and rule of law. I would say go to his speech in Riyadh where he said all nations of the world have to come together to defeat this wicked ideology that perpetuates terrorism. I would say look at his U.N. General Assembly speech where he defined sovereignty as strong sovereign nations who respect the sovereignty of their citizens and the sovereignty of their neighborhoods. Look at his deeds — look at his deeds in confronting the most brutal dictatorial regime in the world, North Korea. How could that not be a human rights issue? How about in Syria when the Syrian regime committed mass murder of its own people with the most heinous weapons on Earth? What did the president do? He struck against that regime’s ability to deliver those weapons. How is that not human rights? Look at the Cuba policy when the previous policy had done nothing but strengthen the grip of that authoritarian regime. There's a new Cuba policy which now tries to encourage a more pluralistic economy and different power centers within Cuba that can better protect the rights of the Cuban people. Look at what the president has said and done on Venezuela. The list goes on. So this premise — I mean, this false premise that the President hasn't spoken on human rights, it's demonstrably false in words but also in deeds. Thanks for that question, though.

NB Daily Economy Business Coverage Taxes Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats White House Press Briefing Brian Karem
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