While the immediate reaction on CNN’s Wolf Friday afternoon to former President Barack Obama’s angry, bitter speech against President Trump was more timid than expected in avoiding an Obama lovefest, CNN Newsroom afternoon host Brooke Baldwin and her experts came through in reminding us that this is a network of The Resistance.
Baldwin first went to CNN weekend host and former Obama official Van Jones, telling him that Obama definitely had “been sitting on” his critiques of Trump for sometime but “today, he did not hold back.”
With that, Jones was off with glowing praise that would have fetched at least a B+ from Chris Matthews (click “expand” for more):
You know, the thing about him is timing. It’s something about this guy. He always has impeccable timing. And it’s the day — it’s the week after Labor Day, we’re now in an eight week sprint. And fourth quarter, you bring out your star. And, you know, obviously he has had something to say for a long time and the thing is, when you have Obama unleashed, when he just does his thing, it is arresting and I — you know, everybody said he was not going to do this. All of the early reporting on this speech was it was going to be very restrained, it was going to be and it was not. And I think that part of what people are looking for and what they are missing is just that voice of moral authority....[B]ut when you don't have somebody who wants to lead and remind us and teach us and instruct us on how democracy works, whacky stuff starts to happen and so I was super happy to see, oh, yes, basic civics.
Jones added that it was kosher for Obama to come out against Trump because “democracy is at risk” and “when people don't get the point that democracy works because people believe in it, dictatorship works because you've got a bunch of guns” whereas “[d]emocracy works because you have a bunch of ideas baked in institutions.”
Referring to the self-described pen and phone President, Jones concluded that he was so “glad a big defender of democracy is back on the stage.” I’m sure the people in Eastern Ukraine, Iran, and Libya would beg to differ.
Baldwin dropped any pretense of objective as well, touting how “incredible” it is to see so many women on the ballot (read: just Democratic ones) while later conceding to similarly star-struck David Chalian that “[w]e’re still sorting through all of the attacks in this extraordinary rebuke” by Obama.
Of course, neither offered a hint of criticism for Obama or how his reemergence on the national stage could backfire.
Speaking of someone who claims to be objective, senior political analyst John Avlon made sure to defend Obama on the economy (click “expand” for more):
Look, Trump has — can take justifiable credit for how the economy has done under his watch, but he can't say that he was inheriting a disaster of an economy. The country was not anywhere near a recession. When President Obama came in, the country, this economy, and the world economy was in crisis. You can argue it wasn't a strong enough recovery and Trump has — can take credit for goosing the economy with regulations and corporate tax cuts. I’m not sure that he can credibly say that you can call low energy Obama. I mean, I don't think that’s going to fly.
Baldwin later hyped an hour later just after 3:00 p.m. Eastern that Obama gave an “excoriating speech” that “reprimanded” Trump.
Harvard professor Leah Wright Rigeur gushed that “this is the Obama that people have missed” and “have been, you know, been craving and have been asking for and he is out and he is in full force” trashing Republicans but also giving everyone else “something aspirational” to ponder going forward.
This complete lack of balance stood in contrast to CNN’s Wolf, which featured CNN conservatarian S.E. Cupp reminding viewers of the viciousness Obama unleashed on Mitt Romney in 2012.
In addition, chief political correspondent Dana Bash (among others) pointed to possible pitfalls for Obama reasserting himself in American politics such as the likelihood it’ll energize Republicans to vote against people he’s supporting.
To see the relevant transcript from September 7's CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin, click “expand.”
CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin
September 7, 2018
2:05 p.m. Eastern
BROOKE BALDWIN: Van, you know the man. He worked for the man. I mean, this is — he has been sitting on this and sitting on this publicly at least and today he did not hold back.
VAN JONES: You know, the thing about him is timing. It’s something about this guy. He always has impeccable timing. And it’s the day — it’s the week after Labor Day, we’re now in an eight week sprint. And fourth quarter, you bring out your star. And, you know, obviously he has had something to say for a long time and the thing is, when you have Obama unleashed, when he just does his thing, it is arresting and I — you know, everybody said he was not going to do this. All of the early reporting on this speech was it was going to be very restrained, it was going to be
BALDWIN: Yeah, no.
JONES: — and it was not.
JONES: And I think that part of what people are looking for and what they are missing is just that voice of moral authority. The pro — he got accused of being this professor in chief. And that was almost like a knock on him, but when you don't have somebody who wants to lead and remind us and teach us and instruct us on how democracy works, whacky stuff starts to happen and so I was super happy to see, oh, yes, basic civics. Congress is a co-equal branch. Congress can do oversight and supposed to. How many hearings did we have on Benghazi and yet you've got somebody from inside the administration saying we have a national emergency and we're not calling hearings, we're not asking a single question, we're just bringing out lie detector machines. So that is why I was happy to hear from President Obama.
BALDWIN: Ah, lie detectors tests, which has actually been floated by libertarian of all, you know, people.
JONES: Yeah, no. Not very libertarian.
BALDWIN: So not often, though, do you have a former President coming out and so publicly eviscerating a current President such as this. He criticized Trump on the economy, he criticized Trump on Charlottesville, he criticized Trump on Puerto Rico. He has the power to gin up the base. Do you think your party will pick up what he's throwing down ahead of November?
JONES: I think so. I think people are trying and I think that, you know, we are in an unusual moment. I'm not willing to hear anybody come and say, hey, ex-presidents aren't supposed to do this. Well, hold on a second, presidents aren't supposed to do that. We’ve got a sitting president who does stuff every day that sitting presidents are not supposed to do. So if a couple times the ex-president comes out and maybe bends some norms, I don't want to hear it. The norms are out the window and democracy is at risk and I don't mean that in a hysterical way. I mean when people don't get the point that democracy works because people believe in it, dictatorship works because you've got a bunch of guns. Democracy works because you have a bunch of ideas baked in institutions. Once you start pulling down faith in institutions, you have a bunch of groups running around mad at each other. The whole point of having a democratic republic, governed by a Constitution with independent checks and balances is that everybody can put their guns down and we can actually get business done and so democracy, how it is supposed to work is on the line and glad a big defender of democracy is back on the stage.
2:09 p.m. Eastern
BALDWIN: He also talked a lot about women, which I know is noteworthy with your show this weekend. It’s like we need more women in politics, rolling up the sleeves with the clipboards. It’s incredible what’s happening this year. Of course, I’ve got my series American Woman and we're rolling out one of the pieces today.
2:29 p.m. Eastern
JOHN AVLON: The campaign is on. We are 60 days out from the midterms. They are both putting their biggest quarterbacks on the field. Look, Trump has — can take justifiable credit for how the economy has done under his watch, but he can't say that he was inheriting a disaster of an economy. The country was not anywhere near a recession. When President Obama came in, the country, this economy, and the world economy was in crisis. You can argue it wasn't a strong enough recovery and Trump has — can take credit for goosing the economy with regulations and corporate tax cuts. I’m not sure that he can credibly say that you can call low energy Obama. I mean, I don't think that’s going to fly. But you see two major different world views combating in really unusually personal terms for an ex-president and an incumbent. Sign of a fascinating campaign to come.
MORGAN ORTAGUS: And I think it’s incredibly smart of the Democrats to put president Obama out there. I mean, quite frankly, the number of socialists and people that turn off independent voters that were getting a lot of press coverage was probably not good to the effort to retake the House. So smart move to put President Obama out there. Listen, you’re going to see two president trumps go at it, I think that is quite typical. But I think if you talk to anyone who is a small business owner in this country, any corporate CEO, they are loving Trump's economy and that is the one thing that I think frustrates Republicans is that the President often, you know, worries about a Woodward book or anonymous, you know, op-ed when he should be touting the fact that he is about to get a second Supreme Court justice, that unemployment is at 3.9%, 200,000+ jobs added, that should be the message and the excitement going into the midterms.
2:43 p.m. Eastern
BALDWIN: We're still sorting through all of the attacks in this extraordinary rebuke delivered just a short while ago by former Barack Obama against President Trump, calling his presidency a threat to democracy, accusing him of practicing the politics of fear and resent and cozying up to Russia and for energizing Nazi enthusiasts. President Trump responded just a second ago by saying the speech put him to sleep. Let's talk this over with our CNN political director David Chalian and David, just going back to Obama's speech, I mean we knew that it would be a rebuke, but what is your take on how hard he went after this administration?
DAVID CHALIAN: Yeah, I mean, this is another break with tradition. In fact, the former President Barack Obama referenced that he envisioned that he would be following in a long line of former presidents who sort of stayed out of the fray from commenting on their successors, but just like the tradition of the President's Club has sort ever been broken with President Trump not really invited into it from his predecessors, so too is Barack Obama breaking tradition here and going hard by name after the President. I mean, President Obama referred to what is going on in this White House as crazy. It doesn't get much more pointed than that. And Brooke, you got to pay attention to what Obama is doing here I think. He’s trying to make the argument of attaching President Trump to the Republican Party. Right? He sort of scolded, I thought, interestingly for the purposes of the midterm campaign season Republican members of Congress for abdicating their responsibility that the way the democracy is set up is not for an anonymous op-ed writer to try to be a check on the President, but that they’re abdicating the responsibility of being a check on the legislative branch on the President.
BALDWIN; And so also interesting, here he was, he was speaking on this college campus, right? And so I'm sitting there, wondering who is he really talking to? Is he talking to Democrats? Is he talking to young people? Because he talked a lot about women and he also, I think, was talking to Republicans.
CHALIAN: No doubt. I mean — he was — he was talking to the campaign audience. So he did a little bit of everything. One thing just by showing up and giving this speech, he was talking to Democrats no doubt because as you know, there have been a lot of Democrats who have been frustrated asking the question for months where is Obama. They — they have been looking for somebody to come out who can really take the stage and make a forceful case against President Trump with a sort of singular voice and a lot of Democrats have been missing him this fight. So he is answering that call by saying here I am, I'm going to be on the trail and really help Democrats win as best I can. But you are right also, not just talking to Republicans, but those critical independent voters that really have drifted away from President Trump who Barack Obama had his own troubles with at times throughout his presidency, independent voters, but there is no doubt that he was trying to appeal to them as well.
3:06 p.m. Eastern
BALDWIN: Let's get more now on the excoriating speech from President Obama earlier this afternoon in Illinois and in an attempt a to encourage people to vote in the November midterms, he reprimanded President Trump for being divisive and pedaling fear, but Obama also called out the Republican Party for not holding this President accountable.
3:10 p.m. Eastern
LEAH WRIGHT RIGEUR: Right and I think this is the Obama that people have missed. This is the Obama that people have been, you know, been craving and have been asking for and he is out and he is in full force. You know, it is true that this is unprecedented for a former president basically to take a sitting president to task. But desperate times call for desperate measures and this is what he said in the speech and the other thing he did that was incredibly important today was not simply just criticize Trump or kinda go after politics of fear and resentment, but he also linked Donald Trump directly to the Republican Party, right, which is consequences for the midterms. But then also gave Democratic voters including unlikely voters, reluctant voters, something aspirational. So something to think about, something to go forward, a vision for what the country could be, including something that really wouldn't have been in the conversation, you know, two years ago like medicare for all. So there’s — he’s trying to do something transformative that speaks to these various coalitions of the Democratic Party of liberals and Progressive, bringing them together in a time of crisis.