As part of their weeks-long media tour promoting their book This Shall Not Pass, New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns joined Monday’s CBS Mornings and, as predicted, almost the entirety of their eight-minute-plus segment was devoted to trashing the Republican Party and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) while all but ignoring attempts by the authors to bring up their reporting about infighting and pitfalls inside the Biden White House.
Socialist co-host Tony Dokoupil made clear it would be that way from a tease, saying the show would talk about how “the January 6 riot led Republican leaders who turn their backs on then President Trump, but not for long.”
The segment itself began with CBS gushing over a clip of President Biden using part of his speech at Saturday’s White House Correspondents Dinner to attack McCarthy, so there again we knew how things would go.
Dokoupil boasted that Biden “poke[d] fun at his political opponents, including House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who was recorded saying things he had denied that he ever said...after the January 6th riot that he was thinking of telling President Trump he should resign.”
Turning to the authors, Dokoupil fretted that he’d “like to say congratulations to our country, but I can’t because the book paints a very disturbing picture of where we are[.]”
Having been invited to describe what it had to have been “like listening to...hours and hours of Republican leaders talking very candidly,” Martin said his book succeeded in “pull[ing] back the curtain” on what Republicans really “say behind closed doors” about Trump and that there’s been a “vast gulf” between “the GOP leaders...and...voters.”
Co-host and Democratic donor Gayle King then tried and failed (as she’d do later) to have them reveal how they obtained their recordings. Instead, Burns spoke generally about their “enormous amount of primary source material” and thus they were faced with “unpack[ing] all of that.”
Burns then tried to shift topics, saying the book “is not just about Republicans” and while “people are loving the Kevin McCarthy material if they don’t like Kevin McCarthy, but you know, this is not a book that goes easy on Joe Biden and his party either.”
Pretending to not be a partisan, King called their “deep dive on both parties” “the beauty of the book” that will lead readers to realize both parties “are so busy blaming the other as opposed to looking inward.”
Burns tried to pull more on that thread, but Dokoupil interjected to say he “wanted to stick with Kevin McCarthy for a second” (click “expand”):
BURNS: Right. You know, it’s something that Jonathan and I talk about almost every day is that these two parties, and I think the book shows this really vividly, these two parties are almost in a competition to see who can do a better job of keeping the other one in business, right, that when the leaders of both parties are behind closed doors, they will acknowledge, as you hear with Kevin McCarthy, but other folks, including on the Democratic side, like we have got some real big problems here, and we have some extreme forces in our party, we’ve got to do something about it. The two parties aren’t identical, but they’ve got some big problem.
DOKOUPIL: I do want to stick with Kevin McCarthy for a second.
DOKOUPIL: Because I think for the average person reading this book, it shows them something about politics that they may not understand, that I don’t understand.
DOKOUPIL: So you’ve gotten McCarthy in that private recording, saying I’ve had it with this guy referring to President Trump and then in the same month, just a few weeks later, he’s in a picture with the President basically giving a thumbs up.
DOKOUPIL: So how do you make sense of those two?
MARTIN: Well, so we have an entire chapter that really captures week by week, what we call that row back, how people like Kevin McCarthy, Mitch McConnell went from denouncing Trump in such harsh terms after January 6th, to sort of returning to, in some ways to his good graces. Now, is it McCarthy —
KING: Yes, you called it a head-snapping reversal.
MARTIN: — a head-snapping reversal, and the reason is pretty straightforward. McCarthy wants to be Speaker of the House and that is his paramount goal. And he looks around his caucus, they just don’t care what Donald Trump did on January 6th. They’re more concerned about what their voters think and their voters are just fine with Donald Trump. And once McCarthy figures that out, I’ve got to be where the caucus is. He goes back to the caucus and says, we’re not going to impeach Trump, and in fact, we’re going to patch things up with Trump. And before January is out, McCarthy is down at Mar-a-Lago posing for that, that now famous picture with him.
Not surprisingly, the focus remained on bashing the media’s enemy in Republicans and how GOP voters are game with “ignor[ing] or at least set aside concerns about January 6th, and certainly Donald Trump’s conduct,” which spells doom for “American politics.”
In other words, because Republicans won’t support for Adam Schiff’s latest boondoggle, you’re the enemy of the country.
Following a brief portion about Trump endorsements (and before another ribbing from King to reveal their sources), they wrapped by sounding the alarm about how world leaders see a weaker United States, which seemed like it was being pinned on Republicans (click “expand”):
KING: You write that people say one thing publicly and another thing privately and maybe the voters here don’t care, but the world is certainly as you say in the book, looking at us very differently after January 6th, aren’t they?
BURNS: — it’s one of the things that we heard over and over.
BURNS: We spoke to some foreign leaders, foreign diplomats for the book. We talked to a lot of Members of Congress who have been overseas over the last year and they say that just at every turn, they get asked is the United States really okay?
BURNS: And they can’t really answer a confident yes to that.
KING: You couldn’t either in the book, either.
MARTIN: And talk about sobering, talking to people like Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of the U.K.; Malcolm Turnbull from Australia, and they are asking us, "Is America still America? Are you guys going to be okay?" Because the world depends on America. America is the anchor of —
KING: How did your answer that question, Jonathan?
MARTIN: We’re not sure. It remains to be seen. But our reporting in the book doesn’t give us a lot of confidence. But here is the good news. Ultimately, this is in the hands of the American people. The voters control our destiny, and they’re going to be able to make choices in ‘22 and ‘24. But after reading this book, they’re going to have eyes wide open on both sides.
To see the relevant CBS transcript from May 2, click here.