Look Here! Nets Use Meltdowns Over Trump Comment to Downplay Biden Admission

December 6th, 2023 1:39 PM

On Tuesday night during a taped interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity, former President Trump refused to directly answer questions about whether he’d abuse presidential powers and/or break the law if he received a second term. In turn, ABC, CBS, and NBC naturally latched onto that to hyperventilate into their proverbial brown paper bags and thus downplay President Biden admitting he wouldn’t be seeking a second term if Trump weren’t in the race.

ABC’s Good Morning America played all apocalyptic and solemn. Co-host and former Clinton official George Stephanopuolos huffed in an opening tease Trump “refuse[d] to rule out abusing the power of the presidency, if elected back into the White House” while brushing off Biden’s admission him being “candid.”



Stephanopoulos added at the start of the lead-off segment that Trump “refusing to rule out abusing the power of the presidency” was “the latest in a string of dangerous threats.”

This gave way to chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl, who also has a new anti-Trump book to sale (following his previous two on Trump) and thus requires copious amounts of Trump doomsday talk:

Donald Trump was asked a simple and direct question by a friendly interviewer and he wouldn’t rule out abusing power if he gets back to the White House. In fact, he used the word dictator to describe his plans for day one in office. At a town hall overnight with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Donald Trump was asked what should have been an easy question: Would he abuse the power of the presidency during his second term?

Karl then showed some of the exchange. Judge for yourself (click “expand”):

HANNITY [on FNC’s Hannity, 12/05/23]: I want to be very, very clear on this. To be clear, do you, in any way, have any plans whatsoever, if re-elected president, to abuse power, to break the law, to use the government to go after people?

TRUMP [on FNC’s Hannity, 12/05/23]: You mean, like they’re using right now?

KARL: He dodged the question, but minutes later, Hannity pressed him again for an answer.

HANNITY [on FNC’s Hannity, 12/05/23]: Under no circumstances, you are promising America tonight, you would never abuse power as retribution against anybody?

TRUMP [on FNC’s Hannity, 12/05/23]: Except for day one.

HANNITY [on FNC’s Hannity, 12/05/23]: Except for — 

TRUMP [on FNC’s Hannity, 12/05/23]: Look, he’s going crazy. Except for day one.

HANNITY [on FNC’s Hannity, 12/05/23]: Meaning?

TRUMP [on FNC’s Hannity, 12/05/23]: I want to close the border and I want to drill, drill — 

HANNITY [on FNC’s Hannity, 12/05/23]: That’s not. That’s — 

TRUMP [on FNC’s Hannity, 12/05/23]:  — drill.

HANNITY [on FNC’s Hannity, 12/05/23]: — that’s not —

TRUMP [on FNC’s Hannity, 12/05/23]: No, no.

HANNITY [on FNC’s Hannity, 12/05/23]:  — that’s not retribution. I got it.

TRUMP [on FNC’s Hannity, 12/05/23]: I’m going to — I’m going to be — you know — we love this guy. He says you’re not going to be a dictator, are you? I said no, no, other than day one. We’re closing the border and we’re drilling, drilling, drilling. After that, I’m not a dictator.

Karl reacted with more kvetching about this being “just the latest comment from the former President that’s raised alarms about what he would do if he makes it back to the White House and it comes as Joe Biden is making the threat Trump poses to democracy a big part of his campaign message.”

Instead of even suggesting one take on Biden’s comments could be harmful to undecided voters, Karl suggested there’s no there there since Biden “later clarified...that he would still be running even if Trump dropped out.”

The rest of Karl’s lengthy segment was being hot and bothered by leaks from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team about Trump’s January 6 case before Stephanopoulos concluded with disgust that Trump’s “intentions and the motivations hiding in plain sight.”

Along with Stephanopoulos brief in the 7:30 a.m. Eastern half-hour, the second hour included a report on Wednesday’s GOP debate and this question from senior congressional correspondent Rachel Scott: “Will any of his rivals respond to those latest comments that he made just hours ago, saying that he would be a dictator only on day one, not ruling out abusing his power if elected?”

CBS Mornings and NBC’s Today rolled their coverage of Biden, previewing the debate, and Trump’s comments into one segment. On CBS, co-host Nate Burleson said Biden’s claim about not running for reelection if Trump weren’t around were “comments...drawing some attention.”

Anti-Trump author and chief elections and campaign correspondent Robert Costa proclaimed he’d “be closely watching” the debate to see “how Trump’s rivals respond to his comments about not wanting to be dictator except on day one” and whether they’ll “grapple with” or “shrug it off.”

NBC had their co-hosts weigh in with Savannah Guthrie saying “Democrats are pouncing” over Trump’s comments about executive power and Hoda Kotb argued what Trump was “raising eyebrows with some controversial comments.”

Senior Capitol Hill correspondent Garrett Haake also downplayed Biden’s gaffe and relayed that Trump “laughed off questions about whether he would become a dictator if he returned to the Oval Office.” He then continued (click “expand”):

HAAKE: Overnight, during a taped town hall in Iowa, former President Trump mocking questions about turning the presidency into a dictatorship. Moderator Sean Hannity asking Mr. Trump if he had plans to abuse his power or break the law if he were reelected or to seek retribution against others.


HAAKE: The Biden campaign quick to respond, writing in a statement, “Donald Trump has been telling us exactly what he will do if he’s re-elected and tonight he said he will be a dictator on day one.” Just days ago, former Congresswoman Liz Cheney expressing similar concerns to Savannah.


HAAKE: Earlier Tuesday at a fundraiser in Boston, President Biden telling donors, “if Trump wasn’t running I’m not sure I’d be running. But we cannot let him win.” Returning to the White House, the President making clear he’s staying in this race.


KOTB: So, Garrett, there was some — as you said, controversial comments from former President Trump, he’d be a dictator on the first day. Do you think the other candidates are going to address that issue tonight at the debate?

HAAKE: The other candidates have tried as hard as they can to not address the controversial things that Donald Trump has said, at least when they don’t relate to policy. But, on other things...they have, in some cases, chased him to the right.

To see the relevant transcripts from December 6, click here (for ABC), here (for CBS), and here (for NBC).