CNN Lashes Out at Trump After Remarks on Explosive Devices; Tries to Blame Him for Bombs

Wednesday has been a difficult day for the country with explosive, suspicious devices being sent to CNN, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA), plus former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Put simply, it’s inexcusable and unacceptable for that to happen to anyone in this country.

Reacting to President Trump’s comments on the bombs, CNN Newsroom’s panel of analysts, journalists, and pundits promptly lashed out at Trump, insinuating his guilt and deeming his remarks insufficient.

 

 

Former Obama official Carrie Cordero led off, declaring that Trump’s remarks were “the absolute bare minimum that the American people could expect from the President to say given the circumstances” and was unhappy with the fact that the First Lady offered remarks before the President. Yes, really.

Political analyst David Gregory stated that “the President said the right” and “important things,” but he was left “wanting” more. Gregory then tied the murder of Jamal Khashoggi to, yes, the CNN bomb and blamed the President (click “expand”):

I just wish he could have said some other things in the context of CNN being targeted here as well, in the context of so much animus that he himself has against CNN and other news outlets to make a point about the fact that violence directed toward the news media is unacceptable. A high-profile news journalist was just murdered in Turkey by the Saudis who was working for The Washington Post. We've been talking about this, he's been talking about it for the past two weeks. It's imperative he says that. Again, I come up wanting — I wish this President could say this is a tough time, we are after each other with very tough things to say about each other and the direction of the country but this is different, this is a level of violence that cannot be tolerated, its attack on all of us. He just doesn't seem to be able to go that far. 

Host Brianna Keilar and chief political analyst Gloria Borger went next and were incensed that the First Lady and President didn’t say CNN’s name. Borger exclaimed that “nobody’s mentioning the name” and “[i]t’s as if it can't roll off the tongue unless you're complaining about it and you know, I'm sorry about that, I'm very sorry about that.”

Borger continued, tying the President to the bombs and mocking assertions that George Soros funds left-wing causes (click “expand,” emphasis mine):

BORGER: I know the President watches television, as David was saying. I know he knows and he can call it egregious, abhorrent to everything we hold dear and say that we are extremely angry, upset and unhappy and I'm glad he's promising to get to the bottom of it, but there is this sort of inability to actually talk about who was attacked, and that would be our — potentially our newsroom and our news organization and, you know, more people were targeted other there and two former Presidents, as we know. George Soros being one of them, who he was not going to mention, Eric Holder another.

KEILAR: Who he's mentioned in recent week in negative ways. He's been quick to mention him as a foil in multiple venues.

BORGER: Of course. Yeah, exactly. George Soros according to some conspiracy theorist, he's funding the caravans or whatever. I mean, he's funding everything according to conspiracy theorists and these are names, as you point out, that come up all the time in his rallies. I mean, he's not particularly kind to Barack Obama either. I think it would have behooved him to be a little bit more complete. 

SHIMON PROKUPECZ: When you think about it, this is a major FBI investigation now that’s crossing — across this country....[A]nd for the President I think not to more directly address some of this, you know, I think it shows just perhaps maybe how he doesn't realize how serious this investigation is.

Gregory then added that he wished Trump had said more since “[t]his is an attack on major institutions of our country, the free press, it's an attack on America” and suggested without any evidence as to who was behind this that “these are people who are dialed in to what the dialogue is and who the targets are, rhetorically targets, of political figures from Maxine Waters to Obama to Holder to Clinton and on and on.”

The narrative was laid in the moments leading up to the First Lady and President. Senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny made it seem like Trump’s rhetoric acted like mind control and prompted whomever was responsible to mail in these bombs (click “expand”):

But we certainly know, Brianna, just covering so many Trump campaign rallies across the country, the rhetoric has become so heated, so hot, certainly escalating as we’re getting close to the midterm elections, now just 13 days away. At a rally just earlier this week in Houston, certainly the President standing there smiling as many of these — his supporters are cheering and chanting. Again, the person responsible for this we do not know and they are indeed responsible, but president is responsible for the rhetoric here, but we'll see if he steps back from the rhetoric he has been giving early on, but he is still scheduled, Brianna, I’m told, to go to Wisconsin later this evening in central Wisconsin to rally support for Republicans on the ballot there. That will be an interesting first test to see if any of the rhetoric is changing at all as we reach the midterm election cycle, but certainly the President is expected to address this shortly here in the East Room, Brianna.

Borger also cast blame, tying the bombs to the President’s denunciation of Waters and praising Congressman Greg Gianforte (R-MT) for his crude body-slam of The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs.

“When you have this kind of rhetoric on the — whether it’s about Maxine Waters or praising Gianforte or calling the media the enemy of the people and CNN fake news constantly, people listen to that,” she argued. 

Gee. At this point, the hot takes of Borger and company would seem to indicate that Trump himself was responsible and he should be hauled away in handcuffs!

To see the relevant transcript from October 24's CNN Newsroom, click “expand.”

CNN Newsroom

October 24, 2018

2:05 p.m. Eastern

JEFF ZELENY: I'm told that the President is going to address these attacks at the beginning of his remarks here in the East Room of the White House. He’ll be doing that momentarily. He has been getting briefings throughout the morning here in the residence of the White House as well as in the West Wing. He's been getting briefings from his counterterrorism officials and others and some are here in the room. The attorney general is here in the room. The Secretary of homeland security is here in the room as well and we are expecting the President to condemn these as egregious acts. The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, has said they were a despicable acts is the word she used, so we do expect the president, as well as the first lady, who is going to be speaking here separately to also condemn these attacks. The question is, Brianna, will he call it an act of domestic terrorism as the mayor of New York City did earlier today, the national counterterrorism center has not gone that far yet. They are still investigating this, so that is a central question here in the East Room if the president will label it an act of domestic terrorism. But we certainly know, Brianna, just covering so many Trump campaign rallies across the country, the rhetoric has become so heated, so hot, certainly escalating as we’re getting close to the midterm elections, now just 13 days away. At a rally just earlier this week in Houston, certainly the President standing there smiling as many of these — his supporters are cheering and chanting. Again, the person responsible for this we do not know and they are indeed responsible, but president is responsible for the rhetoric here, but we'll see if he steps back from the rhetoric he has been giving early on, but he is still scheduled, Brianna, I’m told, to go to Wisconsin later this evening in central Wisconsin to rally support for Republicans on the ballot there. That will be an interesting first test to see if any of the rhetoric is changing at all as we reach the midterm election cycle, but certainly the President is expected to address this shortly here in the East Room, Brianna. 

(....)

2:15 p.m. Eastern

BRIANNA KEILAR: Now as I bring in Gloria Borger to talk about this, we understand one was sent to Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters. This is significant when you see a pattern of targets here who are coincidentally — not so coincidentally rhetorical targets of President Trump's. 

GLORIA BORGER: Absolutely and Maxine, you know, Maxine Waters is one of his favorites. He actually — and this is not my phrasing, it's his, talks about her as the very low I.Q. Maxine Waters and disparages her publicly, as well as he tweets and I just want to say one thing about this because I was actually in Missoula, Montana last week when the President praised Congressman Gianforte for body slamming a journalist. 

KEILAR: Something the Congressman apologized for. 

BORGER: Apologized for and had to do, you know, had to some community service for or what — anger management, whatever it was and the President, you know, the President praised him, he's my kind of guy. When you have this kind of rhetoric on the — whether it’s about Maxine Waters or praising Gianforte or calling the media the enemy of the people and CNN fake news constantly, people listen to that and I remember the President's speech after Steve Scalise got shot and it was great. It was about sort of bipartisanship and I know he's doing a bipartisan thing today on opioids and there will be Democrats in the room and Melania Trump will be in the room, but — and so after Steve Scalise was shot in that baseball game, we heard the President talk about the parties working together and everything else when they had that game at Nationals Park and I'm sure he'll do that again.

(....)

2:27 p.m. Eastern

CARRIE CORDERO: I thought it was the absolute bare minimum that the American people could expect from the President to say given the circumstances of multiple devices being sent to former Presidents, prominent people and former administration officials and the news media and CNN. So I thought it was the bare minimum. I thought he should have spoken first. It would have been more appropriate to have him come out first given that the entire morning has been spent watching the CNN news bureau out from their office in New York and reporting from a street corner. I think that would have been more appropriate, but it also is hard to ignore the fact that the President — everybody knows that the President is the one who has contributed and is the primary proponent behind the American political discourse. So I am glad that he said the limited statements that he said in terms of supporting law enforcement and condemning the acts of political violence that seem to be taking place and coming out over the last couple days and particularly today, but it also matters what he does next, what he does at his rally tonight and what him and his political allies do continuing in terms of their political engagement. 

KEILAR: He'll be in Wisconsin tonight. I'm hoping, David, you can compare this to what you've seen in the past, other government responses to say the anthrax attacks. How does this initial response differ from what we heard in that case and 9/11?

DAVID GREGORY: Look, think the President said the right thing. He said the important things. He condemned acts of political violence, he talked about bipartisan and that response is and should be and we need unity in the country, but what leaves me wanting, like Carrie, you find yourself saying, I just wish he could have said some other things. In the context of CNN being targeted here as well, in the context of so much animus that he himself has against CNN and other news outlets to make a point about the fact that violence directed toward the news media is unacceptable. A high-profile news journalist was just murdered in Turkey by the Saudis who was working for The Washington Post. We've been talking about this, he's been talking about it for the past two weeks. It's imperative he says that. Again, I come up wanting — I wish this President could say this is a tough time, we are after each other with very tough things to say about each other and the direction of the country but this is different, this is a level of violence that cannot be tolerated, its attack on all of us. He just doesn't seem to be able to go that far. 

KEILAR: And we heard the First Lady saying it was Obama, Clinton — officials, individuals and organizations —

BORGER: Plural. 

KEILAR: — now, maybe there's information we do not know. As far as we know right know with some of our excellent reporting coming from the likes of Shimon Prokupecz and our other reporters, there's one organization and it is CNN. 

BORGER: And nobody's mentioning the name. It's as if it can't roll off the tongue unless you're complaining about it and you know, I'm sorry about that, I'm very sorry about that. I know the President watches television, as David was saying. I know he knows and he can call it egregious, abhorrent to everything we hold dear and say that we are extremely angry, upset and unhappy and I'm glad he's promising to get to the bottom of it, but there is this sort of inability to actually talk about who was attacked, and that would be our — potentially our newsroom and our news organization and, you know, more people were targeted other there and two former Presidents, as we know. George Soros being one of them, who he was not going to mention, Eric Holder another.

KEILAR: Who he's mentioned in recent week in negative ways. He's been quick to mention him as a foil in multiple venues.

BORGER: Of course. Yeah, exactly. George Soros according to some conspiracy theorist, he's funding the caravans or whatever. I mean, he's funding everything according to conspiracy theorists and these are names, as you point out, that come up all the time in his rallies. I mean, he's not particularly kind to Barack Obama either. I think it would have behooved him to be a little bit more complete. 

SHIMON PROKUPECZ: When you think about it, this is a major FBI investigation now that’s crossing — across this country. The FBI is taking this seriously and probably adding all sorts of agents from all over the country to this and for the President I think not to more directly address some of this, you know, I think it shows just perhaps maybe how he doesn't realize how serious this investigation is. You have a threat now to this country that the FBI — that the Joint Terrorism Task Force is investigating. They're taking it very seriously. 

GREGORY: Can I — I have a slightly different I know exactly what you're saying, but this is a President who often says everything that’s on his mind. Think about the Saudi situation where he said 14 different things in the space of two days. I think it's appropriate to let the investigators do their thing right now. What he had to do in this case is condemn and try to bottle up an out-of-control political response to this, which we're going to have anyway and I think he came up a bit short, but I will say I think he did the right thing and said the right things. 

KEILAR: What do you think he should have said? Should it have been to the likes of, “as you know, these — these are people I've been tough on,” but draw a line between rhetoric and —

GREGORY: Well, I think you can — I think you can certainly and he just doesn't express himself this way where he takes on — he — he — it's clear to me what he means a lot of times but he doesn't know how to say it, you know? He may go after The New York Times, he loves The New York Times, he wants to be seen as legitimate by The New York Times. He'll never quit Maggie Haberman of The New York Times because he wants so much to be embraced by them and that’s true of the media writ large. It’s true of CNN, but this is what he does. He uses the media as a foil, he knows it so well. You wish he could be more presidential and say I may attack them, I may go after them, 

BORGER: Exactly.

GREGORY: — this is far different. This is an attack on major institutions of our country, the free press, it's an attack on America. It’s an attack on the institution of the presidency when former presidents are attacked and that cannot — that cannot happen. Law enforcement will do its job. One thing I want to point is we have to be careful about. We don't know the intent of who was at work here, whether there were multiple people. It’s clearly people who wanted attention but I think what Shimon's reporting bears out, these are people who are dialed in to what the dialogue is and who the targets are, rhetorically targets, of political figures from Maxine Waters to Obama to Holder to Clinton and on and on.


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