CNN’s King Insists He’s Not Blaming Trump, Supporters for Bombs (Even Though He Did)

CNN’s Inside Politics host John King insisted on Thursday’s show that he wasn’t blaming President Donald Trump for this week’s mail bombs, but did exactly that. On Friday, King did it again, declaring that the pro-Trump bumper stickers on the suspects van (including “CNN sucks”) “does not make the President responsible for this,” even though he used the word “but” to then do not only that, but directly lecture Trump supporters. 

Chief political correspondent Dana Bash and political reporter M.J. Lee were alongside in trying to have it both ways, emotionally lashing out at the President and connecting condemnations of the media to the suspect’s actions and mental state.

 

 

King first lamented at the 12:41 p.m. Eastern mark that the President had insufficiently thanked law enforcement and an early-morning tweet that Trump sent about the bombs and the midterm elections. The tweet was sent out before the suspect’s arrest and it’s unclear whether the President knew who the suspect was, so the tweet isn’t exactly relevant. 

Alas, King spent the remaining 19 minutes relitigating it.

Bash also condemned the “bomb stuff” tweet and demanded the President take the lion’s share of the blame for the state of American discourse and “animosity towards the media.”

Moments later, King made use of the word “but” in blaming-but-not-blaming Trump (and, by extension, his supporters) for what took place (emphasis mine, click “expand”):

KING: Clearly the suspect's van has pictures of the President, has pictures of the Vice President, has a derogatory — you can see it so I will say it — “CNN sucks” on the bottom left of the screen. That is the suspect's van. That does not make the President responsible for this, but he has bristled at the suggestion that people are holding him responsible for this. This suspect is alleged to have done this and the suspect will explain his motives to the police. What people have asked of the President, I think, is a more calming, unifying presence and he has done that at times quite well. At other times, he launches into attacks on this network, on the media writ large and says "Bomb stuff." 

MJ LEE: Well, Dana, you were talking about the difference between Twitter Trump and teleprompter Trump. Twitter, again, is one way in which we get the most unfiltered information into what Trump is thinking and it is clear from the tweet he sent out using the quotation marks and using the word “stuff,” that he — for whatever reason — doesn't believe this is as serious as everyone else believes, that there is something about this that is not real or on the level and that is particularly unfortunate and not helpful at a time when we know there are experience theories that are unsubstantiated going around about the motive, who the person could be, what their intentions might be and regardless of sort of what we know and don't know about the various bombs that have been discovered, whether they were designed to go off, we don't know why they haven't gone off, why none of them were actually detonated. This is a serious situation. I was in the New York bureau when the alarms went off. Even as we were evacuating, we obviously didn't know what the reason was, we all knew as we were going down the staircase that this was a serious situation and would remain so. I think if everyone around this table is able to acknowledge that this is a very serious issue and serious conduct, the President certainly should be able to acknowledge that as well. 

Gee, John, maybe he’s “bristled” at them because they are, in fact, being made against him!

King then tried to get law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes to go down the same path, but Fuentes didn’t bite. He responded that political views can become a part of the motive, but “[d]on’t go to that immediately before you have all the facts.”

Nonetheless, Bash and Lee weren’t interested and instead grew enraged with the President and his supporters (click “expand”):

BASH: Can I just say because we are putting this picture up, the image of what was on that van for an extended period of time. That image, CNN sucks, of course the President didn't direct this. He's not technically responsible for this, but he is responsible for not just allowing the chant, “CNN sucks” at his rallies but stoking it, making clear he likes it and all you need is one — forgive me — crack pot and we’ve been saying this for two years and it looks like one may have emerged and that is the danger and that is the reason why leadership is the way it is. And you can have an enemy, you can have a political discussion, you can have political discourse, but when you cross the line, it is extremely dangerous and that is what has been a giant omission in anything we heard from anybody at the white house. 

LEE: And especially because we know that people take their queues from the President. As they should. He is the leader of the country. He is President of the United States and we’ve seen stunning moments like when he mocked Christine Blasey Ford and her testimony. The people behind him. We could see that they were sort of in on the joke, laughing along when he made jokes about body slamming a reporter. People sort of see that the President is taking that kind of a tone and then they react to match that. 

BASH: And can I just add, after the President made that speech to the same audience, he mentioned “fake polls” and the people in that room inside the White House chanted “CNN sucks.” Put that in context of what the President said and where we are right now and that was not stopped. That tells you everything you need to know. 

King then looked into the camera and scolded Trump supporters: “And to a Trump supporter who are watching, I would say this. We are humans at CNN. We make mistakes from time to time. We correct them when we do. The President might want to try to do that himself.”

As our friend Ryan Saavedra at the Daily Wire noted, CNNers have repeatedly pushed conspiracy theories and falsehoods that have gone uncorrected. So King’s claim is, quite simply, false.

After a clip from the President commenting on the arrest, King knocked Trump for claiming CNN doesn’t cover his successes (go ahead and laugh at that claim). Bash backed him up, but again, it’s nonsense.

Lee replied by verbally attacking Trump for claiming that he’s “committed to doing everything in his power to stop the political violence” when “[t]hat starts with his tweets, that starts with his public remarks and he is currently clearly not doing that.”

With a minute left in the show, King took one last swipe at Trump and his expired tweet (click “expand”):

[W]hat the President just said at the White House was spot on...But moments before that, an hour or so before that, the President tweeted, Republicans are doing so well in early voting and now this “bomb stuff,” casting doubts. He accuses us of fake news. That is casting doubt at a moment of national anxiety. Whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, whether you’re a police officer or postal worker, whether you happen to work in a New York City office building where CNN is located or an office building in somewhere across America where a congressional office might be located, you are anxious at this moment and the President is saying “bomb stuff.”

To see the relevant transcript from CNN’s Inside Politics on October 26, click “expand.”

CNN’s Inside Politics
October 26, 2018
12:41 p.m. Eastern

JOHN KING: But part of the conversation now — we’re 12 days away — 11 days away from a mid-term election will be the President of the United States. CNN’s Dana Bash and MJ lee join the conversation and you can get whiplash, excuse me, trying to follow to the President at this time of a national crisis, a national urgency with the media is to blame for this because the media stokes anger. No comment for the first several days about the heroic work done by the FBI, other federal agencies, and the NYPD. The heroic work of the Postal workers who are in these facilities who are worrying about their own safety, let alone everything else. But then the President walks into the room within two hours of saying this “bomb stuff” in a tweet to be, as we would expect the President, to thank the law enforcement agencies, to say this must not happen in our country. These terrorizing acts are despicable. Again, you can get whiplash trying to follow him in the moment of a national crisis.

DANA BASH: There’s Teleprompter Trump and there’s Twitter Trump and what was teleprompter Trump something that was written very careful, very well by his aides and, you know, presumably him too, doing what he should do, as you said as President, talking about these despicable acts, that violence is never okay. The problem is what he didn't say either in that teleprompter speech or on Twitter, which is: “You know what, we all need to lower the rhetoric. I, as President, have a big impact on people as what I say as the media has the impact, just as everybody else has an impact,” but particularly the man with the loudest megaphone and the most Twitter followers in politics so that was a big omission. We have not seen him fill in the blank and if anything, as you mentioned, he's gone the other way on Twitter, which was to continue to stoke animosity towards the media and this that he tweet that he sent today, I don't understand it, saying, I mean — I guess I understand that —

KING: It attracts —

BASH: — he wants to focus on politics. I mean, great. We’re political reporters. We’d love to focus on politics, but we have this major investigation which is incredibly real that we have to focus on. 

KING: Right. This is the last thing any of us would like to discussing today. Bombs mailed to two former presidents and other prominent American citizens that are a danger, but to your point, the president tweeting at 3:00 a.m. — at 3:00 a.m., the President tweeting an attack on this news network and earlier today, I want to read this one because this — this channels what you see in some of these right-wing websites — a conspiracy theory that somehow, just like the Democrats are responsible for the caravan which the President himself has said, the migrants coming forward that the Democrats are responsible for these packages. You see it and if you read right-wing conspiracy — I don’t want to call it media — conspiracy theory sites. The President saying: “Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this ‘Bomb’ stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows - news not talking politics. Very unfortunate, what is going on. Republicans, go out and vote!” The President of the United States linking this a major crime — again involving two former Presidents, a former first lady and presidential candidate and others.

(....)

12:48 p.m. Eastern

KING: The calendar would force the political conversation anyway because we are now 11 days away from a mid-term, because all of the targets of this suspect now, of these pipe bombs were Democrats or prominent critics of the President. We have a picture of the van. I’m going to ask you to put it back up. Clearly the suspect's van has pictures of the President, has pictures of the Vice President, has a derogatory — you can see it so I will say it — “CNN sucks” on the bottom left of the screen. That is the suspect's van. That does not make the President responsible for this, but he has bristled at the suggestion that people are holding him responsible for this. This suspect is alleged to have done this and the suspect will explain his motives to the police. What people have asked of the President, I think, is a more calming, unifying presence and he has done that at times quite well. At other times, he launches into attacks on this network, on the media writ large and says "Bomb stuff." 

MJ LEE: Well, Dana, you were talking about the difference between Twitter Trump and teleprompter Trump. Twitter, again, is one way in which we get the most unfiltered information into what Trump is thinking and it is clear from the tweet he sent out using the quotation marks and using the word “stuff,” that he — for whatever reason — doesn't believe this is as serious as everyone else believes, that there is something about this that is not real or on the level and that is particularly unfortunate and not helpful at a time when we know there are experience theories that are unsubstantiated going around about the motive, who the person could be, what their intentions might be and regardless of sort of what we know and don't know about the various bombs that have been discovered, whether they were designed to go off, we don't know why they haven't gone off, why none of them were actually detonated. This is a serious situation. I was in the New York bureau when the alarms went off. Even as we were evacuating, we obviously didn't know what the reason was, we all knew as we were going down the staircase that this was a serious situation and would remain so. I think if everyone around this table is able to acknowledge that this is a very serious issue and serious conduct, the President certainly should be able to acknowledge that as well. 

KING: To that point, Tom, ah — let's connect the two conversations. As the investigation goes on right now, political motivations clearly a part of that converation. The investigators will be asking: “Why, why are you alleged to have done this?” What does it matter from a crime stand point if they were actual bombs set to go off and they didn't work or the suspect knew that they were not. They were meant to terror — is it question, I guess, is are you trying to assassinate or hurt or are you trying intimidate or terrorize. Does that make a distinction from a prosecution standpoint?

TOM FUENTES: If he had actually killed somebody, he’d be facing the death penalty. As it is, he could be facing life, depending on what the prosecutors decide in terms of the federal charges to be brought against him, so it's still extremely serious no matter when way you look at it. But I had mentioned earlier about not forming an opinion too early. I didn't say never form the opinion that that was as they were interviewing him and as they’re going through his social media and discussions with neighbors, family, neighbors, and coworkers. If they form the opinion that he was absolutely extreme right and hated the left, then, yes, you’ll have the motive. But I’m just saying. Don't go to that immediately before you have all the facts. 

BASH: Can I just say because we are putting this picture up, the image of what was on that van for an extended period of time. That image, CNN sucks, of course the President didn't direct this. He's not technically responsible for this, but he is responsible for not just allowing the chant, “CNN sucks” at his rallies but stoking it, making clear he likes it and all you need is one — forgive me — crack pot and we’ve been saying this for two years and it looks like one may have emerged and that is the danger and that is the reason why leadership is the way it is. And you can have an enemy, you can have a political discussion, you can have political discourse, but when you cross the line, it is extremely dangerous and that is what has been a giant omission in anything we heard from anybody at the white house. 

LEE: And especially because we know that people take their queues from the President. As they should. He is the leader of the country. He is President of the united States and we’ve seen stunning moments like when he mocked Christine Blasey Ford and her testimony. The people behind him. We could see that they were sort of in on the joke, laughing along when he made jokes about body slamming a reporter. People sort of see that the President is taking that kind of a tone and then they react to match that. 

BASH: And can I just add, after the President made that speech to the same audience, he mentioned “fake polls” and the people in that room inside the White House chanted “CNN sucks.” Put that in context of what the President said and where we are right now and that was not stopped. That tells you everything you need to know. 

KING: And to a Trump supporter who are watching, I would say this. We are humans at CNN. We make mistakes from time to time. We correct them when we do. The President might want to try to do that himself.

(....)

12:56 p.m. Eastern

KING [REACTING TO TRUMP CLIP]: That's the President of the United States moments ago at the White House. To the point you heard some “fake news” chants in the background of that as the President was commenting there. Again, he has every right to make his case. We do cover record low unemployment. We do cover when Republicans pass a big initiative like a signature tax cut. We also cover when the President says he lost the popular vote because millions of undocumented immigrants voted illegally, which didn't happen and we do cover when the President repeatedly veers from the facts and the truth. We do both.

BASH: Absolutely. I mean, remember the — look, it's probably not even worth it, but the banners on CNN where the President had the greatest week, you know, of any President in so long a few weeks ago because of that and that's called reporting the news and that's called giving the facts and that is what we do and unfortunately in today’s era, we also have to correct things that public officials, starting with the President, say that just are not factual and that’s what we’ve had to do.. 

LEE: And just fascinating that the President said in his remarks that he is committed to doing everything in his power to stop the political violence. That starts with his tweets, that starts with his public remarks and he is currently clearly not doing that and there’s also just a level of self involvement here when he talks about the fact that I get attacked all the time and in his tweet when he said he clearly doesn't want Republicans suffering politically from these bombs that have been sent out, so his focus right now is on himself at a moment when a lot of people are looking to him for reassurance and for leadership.

KING: And there’s — there’s no way to answer the question, what — how does this impact the political climate we are in. The very-closely contested midterm election, 11 days from now, but that was clearly on the President’s mind today, Again, at 3:00 a.m. tweet attacking CNN. You can decide at home whether you think the President should be up 3:00 in the morning attacking news organizations.

BASH: I think, generally, 3 a.m. tweets are just a bad idea for anybody. 

KING: Bad idea for anybody. But that the most — the fascinating part to me, again, what the President just said at the White House was spot on. Applaud the FBI, applaud the law enforcement agencies, try to reassure the country that this should not happen under any presidency in this country. Terrorizing acts, the President said. Despicable, the President said. But moments before that, an hour or so before that, the president tweeted, Republicans are doing so well in early voting and now this “bomb stuff,” casting doubts. He accuses us of fake news. That is casting doubt at a moment of national anxiety. Whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, whether you’re a police officer or postal worker, whether you happen to work in a New York City office building where CNN is located or an office building in somewhere across America where a congressional office might be located, you are anxious at this moment and the President is saying “bomb stuff.”

NB Daily Mail Bombs Double Standards Conservatives & Republicans CNN Inside Politics John King Dana Bash Donald Trump
Curtis Houck's picture


Sponsored Links