Obsessed: CNN Releases Tsunami of Trump Bashing Six Minutes After Bush Funeral Ends

On Thursday, it took CNN roughly six minutes and 34 seconds from the conclusion of former President George H. W. Bush’s funeral before their cast of analysts and journalists started attacking President Trump. And despite claiming otherwise, making the genuine and heartfelt tributes to a man of character and honor all about the current President’s supposed lack thereof.

Whether they were knocking the President’s rhetoric, the current Republican Party being insufficiently bipartisan for their liking, or the decline of the California GOP, CNNers showed an insufferable need to bash Trump during what should have been respectful coverage of the service.

 

 

Anderson Cooper started the pontificating at 1:27 p.m. Eastern, remarking at “you don't hear much humility, you don’t hear much humor from the White House certainly these days.” Chief political analyst Gloria Borger insisted the Bush tributes were not meant to be slights to Trump, but while that’s likely true, CNN thought their news direction would reflect otherwise.

Outside the National Cathedral, chief political correspondent Dana Bash and special correspondent Jamie Gangel painted the Trumps as skunks at the garden party since the former Presidents, Vice Presidents, and their spouses seemed warm-hearted until the current First Couple showed up.

Cooper responded by joking that “we’ve all been in situations” like the ones the Clintons and Obamas found themselves in. But later, Jake Tapper insisted that such quibbles were worth discussing at another time. However, the reality was that such discussions were a major portion of CNN’s coverage and there was nothing done to discourage it.

Perhaps the most insufferable figure on CNN since Bush’s passing, presidential historian Tim Naftali lamented how “George H. W. Bush was the chief architect of a world that is being dissolved now” with his support for NATO and the U.N.

A little after Borger fretted about how “the Bush Republican Party is gone and the Trump Republican Party is dominant,” Inside Politics host John King uncorked a long-winded and nonsensical rant about bipartisanship, the border wall, the Bush family, California, and the GOP that rivals hot takes from Never Trump Republicans or Pod Save America bros (click “expand”):

The question is short term or long term. How are we having this conversation? In the short term, there are things about to happen that will test our optimism in the sense that we're going into a spending fight, a government shutdown fight, which includes the border wall, which is something we saw the president fight fiercely for and Democrats fight fiercely against, so partisanship is just around the corner. We’re at a key moment, getting to the top of the pyramid that is the Mueller investigation. If you’re looking for bipartisanship, people coming together at that moment, I would just simply say not likely to happen. However, I think the longer arc, to the people who have to make big choices come January, what can they take away from today? We talked about this when Senator McCain died. Would it be a bipartisan moment. It lasted seconds or maybe a day or two. Nancy Pelosi may become speaker. The Democrats will take power in the house. President Trump now has to decide how do I navigate in this new world? His instinct is to fight, his instinct to do combat at 6 a.m. on Twitter until the end of the day. But is there a reassessment? Don't know. Wouldn't bet on it, but there is a moment here where everybody who has power and makes choices, from the President to the Democratic leadership to the Republicans who just got their you-know-what’s kicked in Congress, trying to decide what comes next. This is a moment of choices. We’ll see which choice they make.

(....)

But quick to the point that the Bushes have become a pariah in the Republican Party, California often tells us things the country is about to go through early because it is so big, because it is so diverse, because it is so interesting. You have the environmental movement, California first, later, the rest of the country. So many things, the anti-tax movement, even in the days of Pete Wilson, the anti-immigration movement, he held power, that was the California Republican Party briefly. The Republican party just got wiped out in California. Why? A lack of decency, a lack of common ground, a lack of treatment of immigrants with respect and so what — what decision does other Republicans make at this moment? Are they going to stay on Team Trump till the end or do they start thinking about the Republican party after Trump? And the people who came to power in Orange County, for example, during the Bush years, in the Bush Republican Party, who at least want a path to citiz [sic] — to legal status if not a path to citizenship, for example, who don't mind having dinner or a conversation with a Democrat, those people are gone. And so what lesson will the Republican Party learn from what just happened to it? In California? In suburban American? Is there a short-term? We have to stick ourselves — stick to Trump or do they start to have a reassessment? That's one of the many choices that are about to happen. 

Going back to Tapper, he did his best to rival King with a take of his own about the Republican Party as Air Force One took off to take Bush’s body back to Houston (click “expand”):

And I have to wonder what else are we saying good-bye to here? Are we saying good-bye to this man of course but are we also saying good-bye to this particular kind of leader, particular kind of Republican, conservative in principle, moderate in many aspects, somebody who, on a policy level, believed in international institutions, whether the United Nations or NATO, somebody who believed in alliances and as President somebody who believed in working across the aisle as a President dealing with a Democratic congress, signing major pieces of legislation into law, like the Americans with Disabilities Act, which came to actually help him later in his life will he was confined to a wheelchair, somebody who signed into legislation the Clean Air Act and then — then personally somebody who stood for decency and humility and modesty in a lot of ways.

In the final 15 minutes of their formal coverage, a chunk directly dealt with what Cooper perceived as (then denied and then re-upped) lines in the Bush funeral that “[y]ou could say” were “allusions to President Trump” with three clips from eulogists Jon Meacham, Brian Mulroney, and Alan Simpson.

 

 

Cooper seemed to agree and Borger again played this game of claiming the things that made Bush great were not crafted to attack Trump to only then use the words of the eulogists as a cudgel. She even admitted that “your mind naturally goes to Trump,” which caused Gregory to pontificate (click “expand”):

I suppose in any description of the life of the 41st President, it is going to stand in stark contrast because, I mean, everything about the 41st President, everything he believed in is pretty much antithetical to the current President....The way he wore the presidency. How he felt the presidency was bigger than himself, that are not qualities you would assign to President Trump, who thinks about himself more than the presidency or his — or job being bigger than himself or his self-interests. Those — those contrasts are clear, the way he's conducted his politics. There were early signs in the kind of populism in the politics of George H.W. Bush. He encountered it with Ross Perot. He encountered it with Pat Buchanan. He didn't hold up particularly well under it and that was part of a reality he was coming to see he had to move beyond. You know, that point of president Bush 43 saying his dad always told him that failure was part of living a full life but it shouldn't define your life and it's the fact he wouldn't let it define his public life after he lost to Bill Clinton that I think was so ennobling for his legacy, too.....And again, this whole idea of the club, right? The idea that Trump, you know, was there, he was seated, he didn't speak. There was all this moments [sic] of discomfort. Again, I said it a few hours ago. I wonder if Trump realizing for the first moment realizing he really is part of this, he'll be part of it in life, in the presidency and in death, whether that made him think about any of this. 

Former Bush 41 staffer Mary Kate Cary tried to tamp down on the anti-Trump hysteria, noting that the soundbite from Simpson about hatred was verbatim of what he told her for a Bush documentary she made in 2014.

Nonetheless, Naftali plowed ahead, admitting that these anti-Trump attacks are happening “[b]ecause, too many people, he embodies of the opposite of those qualities.” That left Borger to bemoan that, when you look at the so-called President’s Club, “our inclination is that we want them to be a happy family,” but “they’re not” because of Trump.

To see the relevant transcript from CNN on December 5, click “expand.”

CNN’s coverage of The State Funeral of George H.W. Bush
December 5, 2018
1:27 p.m. Eastern

ANDERSON COOPER: You — you don’t hear — I mean, to John's point, Gloria, you don't hear much humility, you don’t hear much humor from the White House certainly these days. It certainly was a different kind of perspective that George H.W. Bush had. 

GLORIA BORGER: Everything about this was — was — was different. I think, to me in listening to all of these things, it was — particularly Jon Meacham’s speech, it — which was remarkable, it seems to me that the message that came across about George H. W. Bush was not only did character count, but character was everything, everything in his life and you look at the language that is used, no occupant more courageous or honorable. His life’s code said tell the truth, don't blame people, be strong, do your best, try hard, forgive, stay the course. That is from Meacham and, you know, in praising Bush this way, it can’t help but sound like a critique of the current occupant of the office, but I don’t really think it was. I think people were just praising this man as he — as he lived his life, and not necessarily making a comparison to the world in which we live, in which this does not exist in large doses because Bush was so singular that way. So in every story everybody told, it was about the way this man lived his life with decency and with integrity and that is the way he governed and that is the way he was trusted not only by people in this country but as Mulroney put it, all around the world. That every world leader felt that way about him. So I think it was an ode to the man's essence. 

(....)

1:33 p.m. Eastern

DANA BASH: So I was in there for John McCain's funeral. The big difference was the current President of the United States. What was it like to have him in the room with his wife, the First Lady? 

JAMIE GANGEL: So what I noticed, two things. All the presidents, the presidents club, as we call it, were talking at the beginning before President Trump and Melania came in and they were reminiscing. I saw at one point Hillary Clinton was talking to Lynne Cheney. It was very friendly. There was a lot of chitchat going on, but when President Trump and Melania came in, it was starkly different. President Obama shook his hand. Michelle Obama, former First Lady, said good morning, and that was it. 

BASH: And then turned and looked forward. 

GANGEL: There was — there was — the others did not greet him. Former President George W. Bush, the son, went over and shook his hand when he came, but there was a stark contrast and there is no question, I think no one is surprised about that. 

BASH: And just — they're showing the images of what you were just describing so we can see it again. And there's one other thing I want to point out. Hillary Clinton, she never looked to her right. 

GANGEL: No. 

BASH: Ever. Look. I mean —

GANGEL: And President Clinton, who shakes everybody's, you know, hand, he did not reach over.

BASH: It’s tough.

GANGEL: Jimmy Carter, down at the end, who's actually had more kind words at times for president Trump didn't look down. So that was very different. I think the other thing that no doubt will be discussed is while President Trump's name was never said in any of the speeches, the tributes to former President Bush, every word, every adjective, every anecdote, stood in stark contrast to this presidency and I think we're going to be talking a lot about that in the coming days. 

BASH: And I genuinely don't think it was intentional at this funeral. 

GANGEL: No. They were —

BASH: I think it was just describing the late president, the 41st President, and it is — it is what it is. 

GANGEL: Correct. 

BASH: He's different. 

GANGEL: In making the tribute, it was another time, another person, and it couldn't have been more stark. 

BASH: Thank you, Jamie. Anderson, back to you. 

COOPER: Dana, thanks very much. David Gergen, as we watch that picture of all the Presidents there, I was watching former President Obama in this image and I couldn't help, we’ve all been in situations where we're in an awkward seat and awkwardness is happening around us. He seems to — maybe I’m projecting onto it — but he seems to kind of have almost a slight smile on his face, sort of aware of the awkwardness that he is in the buffer position here. 

DAVID GERGEN: I think that's true and it was remarkable just to his left, the Clintons and everybody else looking straight ahead, not paying any attention as if it were sort of a — but I think even though it was an awkward moment was this was more about George H.W. Bush than it was about Bill Clinton — about Trump and I think they kept their emphasis there.

(....)

1:38 p.m. Eastern

TIM NAFTALI: I was struck by the fact that George H. W. Bush was the chief architect of a world that is being dissolved now. He is the chief architect of the revitalization of NATO, of the revitalization of the United Nations, of NAFTA. All of the key parts of the post-Cold War world that George H. W. Bush believed were necessary to keep the peace and make the world prosperous, it was beautiful to see that reminder. It was powerful and I wondered as that was being said what certain members of the audience, those listening, might have thought about the celebration of a world, I would argue, that will not go away but a world that is now under deep pressure. That was George H. W. Bush's legacy, not just the humanity, not just the decency, not just the dignity, but actual changes in our world and I think celebrating that today was important.

(....)

1:42 p.m. Eastern

NAFTALI: One of the other things we have to come to grips with is the effect of losing the World War II generation on our politics. One of the things that’s striking about George Bush is he did not like ideologies. He didn't like inflexibility. He was a pragmatist. He was a moderate conservative Republican. He was uncomfortable when people didn't give, when they didn't seek compromise. 

BORGER: You know, but the parties — you know, the truth of the matter is that what is going on in our country now is that the Bush Party, the Bush Republican Party is gone and the Trump Republican Party is dominant and I think that this is the struggle that is underlying what we saw today without it being mentioned and I think the message from today is neither one has to go away completely. You don’t need to vanquish the values of a — of a Bush to have some of the politics or the policies, if you will, of what Trump wants and it doesn't have to be a World War.

(....)

1:59 p.m. Eastern

JAKE TAPPER: And it's a little different than other big funerals we've had this year, the funeral of former First Lady Barbara Bush in I believe was it February or April perhaps —

WOLF BLITZER: In April. 

TAPPER:  — in April the funeral of senator John McCain, events where not all of the presidents were there, notably of course the current President, Donald Trump, not invited to McCain's and he did not attend Barbara Bush's. 

BLITZER: And, you know, when he got there, you know, he shook hands, President Trump, with Michelle Obama and former President Obama. But there was nothing else beyond that. 

TAPPER: A lot of people reading a lot into that about Hillary Clinton not looking at President Trump. Why didn't President Trump shake this person's hand? Why didn't this person shake President Trump's hand? That's probably for another time and place to have that discussion, but obviously a lot of tensions in that pew, things that have been said and, obviously, there are a lot of tensions between the Bush family and President Trump.

(....)

2:14 p.m. Eastern

GERGEN: I thought, Anderson, that this was not only moving for the Bush family but for everyone there but more importantly for people across the country. This nation is hungry for inspiration and I think thought found it today and the Bush family, in many ways, I think, has been placed on a higher pedestal than they have been in recent years. Remember before Jeb ran Barbara was telling people the country is Bushed out and it seemed that way and I think it was one of the reasons he didn't get the nomination. But nonetheless, I think today people are looking at the character and looking at George H. W. Bush and the whole family in a different light, a positive — very positive light.

(....)

2:16 p.m. Eastern

NAFTALI: And he wrote “values, duty, country, service, honor, decency, all the things I really believe.” We saw all of those things highlighted today and it is a great thing for our country and we desperately need that. 

COOPER: Does it have a lasting impact beyond — 

NAFTALI: Well, I’m — I'm an optimist so don't ask me. I think — if Jon Meacham is right and Jon Meacham is the poet laureate of the Bush family, but in many ways, he’s historian laureate among presidential historians, if he’s — if he’s right, I think he is, that’s part of the American creed, so it doesn’t go away.

JOHN KING: The question is short term or long term. How are we having this conversation? In the short term, there are things about to happen that will test our optimism in the sense that we're going into a spending fight, a government shutdown fight, which includes the border wall, which is something we saw the president fight fiercely for and Democrats fight fiercely against, so partisanship is just around the corner. We’re at a key moment, getting to the top of the pyramid that is the Mueller investigation. If you’re looking for bipartisanship, people coming together at that moment, I would just simply say not likely to happen. However, I think the longer arc, to the people who have to make big choices come January, what can they take away from today? We talked about this when Senator McCain died. Would it be a bipartisan moment. It lasted seconds or maybe a day or two. Nancy Pelosi may become speaker. The Democrats will take power in the house. President Trump now has to decide how do I navigate in this new world? His instinct is to fight, his instinct to do combat at 6 a.m. on Twitter until the end of the day. But is there a reassessment? Don't know. Wouldn't bet on it, but there is a moment here where everybody who has power and makes choices, from the President to the Democratic leadership to the Republicans who just got their you-know-what’s kicked in Congress, trying to decide what comes next. This is a moment of choices. We’ll see which choice they make 

GREGORY: You know, John, what you say is that everybody watching, especially the younger generation, the wrong thing to take away is that this is an ode to a bygone era. That’s the wrong thing. The truth is that these values endure, they stand up and the reason they're celebrated is because it's what is our American public and political life. And it is possible for it to endure. It’s a tough media climate, tough political climate, we're so divided in lots of ways but I think the pageantry of today was — was the enduring pageantry. 

KING: I think, quickly, I know David wants to jump in, but quick to the point that the Bushes have become a pariah in the Republican Party, California often tells us things the country is about to go through early because it is so big, because it is so diverse, because it is so interesting. You have the environmental movement, California first, later, the rest of the country. So many things, the anti-tax movement, even in the days of Pete Wilson, the anti-immigration movement, he held power, that was the California Republican Party briefly. The Republican party just got wiped out in California. Why? A lack of decency, a lack of common ground, a lack of treatment of immigrants with respect and so what — what decision does other Republicans make at this moment? Are they going to stay on Team Trump till the end or do they start thinking about the Republican party after Trump? And the people who came to power in Orange County, for example, during the Bush years, in the Bush Republican Party, who at least want a path to citiz [sic] — to legal status if not a path to citizenship, for example, who don't mind having dinner or a conversation with a Democrat, those people are gone. And so what lesson will the Republican Party learn from what just happened to it? In California? In suburban American? Is there a short-term? We have to stick ourselves — stick to Trump or do they start to have a reassessment? That's one of the many choices that are about to happen. 

GERGEN: Yeah, I want to come back to this, David, I agree the values are still out there but we've been slipping away. The — this generation, this World War II generation increasingly seems like from a vanished world and the new — what's encouraging is you’ve got a lot of younger people today, I think, like people elected to Congress, there's a lot of idealism in that group.

GREGORY: Yeah. A lot of veterans.

GERGEN: A lot of veterans in that group. There are a lot of people who want to push back on that side of the aisle. I think they take heart from watching and listening to what George H.W. Bush represented. 

(....)

2:22 p.m. Eastern

KING:  I think another lesson is the caliber of the people who were attracted to this president and this man, Mary Kate was a young staffer in the white House, I was talking to Nick Burns who’s served 27 years in the United States, the foreign service, Democrats and Republicans, who was a kid on the National Security Council in those. It's not just President Trump. We talk a lot about how president Trump is having trouble attracting quality people into the government and that's certainly true, and in part that’s because of how he conducts himself, in parts because he’s a such a different Republican than some establishment Republicans who already come in, but the quality of people in public service has declined pre-Trump as well and I think that's a challenge for parties is to try to get younger people. I have, you know, millennials myself who they don't think government can do much. They haven't seen government in their lifetime do much that they think is worthwhile and so how do you get younger people to want to be in public service, so that when you have — if you just — if look in the rows, the 3,000 people in there, no disrespect, take away the politicians, the people who were — we went through this with Senator Kennedy as well, attracted young, talented people who went on to populate this town and run for office themselves and get into public service. The part of the dynasty — is the Bushes don’t like it — of the Kennedy dynasty and the Bush dynasty is also a hell of a lot of really good people who have really good experience who continue in public service.

(....)

2:25 p.m. Eastern

TAPPER: And I have to wonder what else are we saying good-bye to here? Are we saying good-bye to this man of course but are we also saying good-bye to this particular kind of leader, particular kind of Republican, conservative in principle, moderate in many aspects, somebody who, on a policy level, believed in international institutions, whether the United Nations or NATO, somebody who believed in alliances and as President somebody who believed in working across the aisle as a President dealing with a Democratic congress, signing major pieces of legislation into law, like the Americans with Disabilities Act, which came to actually help him later in his life will he was confined to a wheelchair, somebody who signed into legislation the Clean Air Act and then — then personally somebody who stood for decency and humility and modesty in a lot of ways.

(....)

2:43 p.m. Eastern

COOPER: We got to take a quick break. The service, emotional, filled with testimony to an incredible life well lived and, at times, a not so subtle contrast with President Trump. We’ll have more of our CNN special coverage next. 

(....)

2:47 p.m. Eastern

COOPER: There were a number of moments that we want to talk about during the church service. Several of them we put together. You could say they’re allusions to President Trump or perhaps references to or just kind of hints — well, I’ll leave it up to you whether they’re directly referencing President Trump, but here’s a number of comments people have been talking about.

ALAN SIMPSON: He never hated everyone. He knew what his mother and my mother always knew, hatred corrodes the container it's carried in. The most decent and honorable person I ever met was my friend George Bush, one of nature's noble men. 

BRIAN MULRONEY: I believe it will be said that no occupant of the Oval Office was more courageous, more principled and more honorable than George Herbert Walker Bush. 

JOHN MEACHAM: His life code, as he said, was tell the truth. Don't blame people. Be strong. Do your best. Try hard. Forgive. Stay the course. 

COOPER: Just some of the comments. I mean, you know, hearing Meacham said tell the truth, don't blame people, do your best, forgive, stay the course. 

BORGER: It sounds anti-Trump but it isn't necessarily because what it is is reminding us of the world in which we now live, which is very different, and the world Bush chose to create and the life he chose to live and so all of these adjectives, he was compared to Lincoln, you know, I believe it was Meacham who said choose the right over the convenient, choose hope over fear. Your mind naturally goes to Trump.

GREGORY: I suppose in any description of the life of the 41st President, it is going to stand in stark contrast because, I mean, everything about the 41st President, everything he believed in is pretty much antithetical to the current President. 

BORGER: Anti-Trump.

GREGORY: Right. The way he wore the presidency. How he felt the presidency was bigger than himself, that are not qualities you would assign to President Trump, who thinks about himself more than the presidency or his — or job being bigger than himself or his self-interests. Those — those contrasts are clear, the way he's conducted his politics. There were early signs in the kind of populism in the politics of George H.W. Bush. He encountered it with Ross Perot. He encountered it with Pat Buchanan. He didn't hold up particularly well under it and that was part of a reality he was coming to see he had to move beyond. You know, that point of president Bush 43 saying his dad always told him that failure was part of living a full life but it shouldn't define your life and it's the fact he wouldn't let it define his public life after he lost to Bill Clinton that I think was so ennobling for his legacy, too. 

BORGER: And the way he — the way he adopted Clinton —

GREGORY: Yeah.

BORGER: — after, you know, he lost to him and the way their friendship evolved —

GREGORY: And again, this whole idea of the club, right? The idea that Trump, you know, was there, he was seated, he didn't speak. There was all this moments [sic] of discomfort. Again, I said it a few hours ago. I wonder if Trump realizing for the first moment realizing he really is part of this, he'll be part of it in life, in the presidency and in death, whether that made him think about any of this. 

MARY KATE CARY: I’m sure you could hope.

BORGER: I’m sure it did. I’m sure it did.

MARY KATE CARY: You know, I have to say. I interview — when I made 41 on 41, the documentary about President Bush, I interviewed many of these people and I can tell Alan Simpson said to me word for word in 2014 “hate corrodes the container that it's in,” this credo that Jon Meacham said has been in letter after letter from President Bush to other people. Here's what I believe in, tell the truth, work hard, things like that and so looking at it today through the lens of President Trump sitting in the front row, but whether President Trump had been there today or not, those things would have been said today because that’s what George Bush. It’s irrelevant to today’s politics.

BORGER: Right. I don’t —

NAFTALI: I don't think anybody was subtweeting today. 

BORGER: Exactly. 

NAFTALI: But the point here is that we've gotten to a point in our history where talking about being well-behaved and dignified and selfless is viewed as an attack on the President and why is that so? Because, to many people, he embodies of the opposite of those qualities. 

BORGER: Well, when you look at that picture that we just showed a few moments ago, of all of, them sitting in the front row, I think our inclination is that we want them to be a happy family. This club and they’re not. You know, they’re just not.


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