On CNN's New Day Monday, co-host Chris Cuomo warned that in the midst of President Donald Trump attacking the press as "the enemy of the American people," people, especially journalists, "will get hurt." Senior media correspondent Brian Stelter agreed, "I am worried. I'm worried because somebody who’s deranged can take that language and can take action against a journalist either at a rally or a more private setting."
Cuomo responded, "But that's what I am saying because I said this during the campaign, it's going to happen and I don't want it to. Somebody is going to get hurt. It's just a question of time. Just like every dynamic in life. If you take a legitimate reason to be upset and you pump them up, and it starts to become a call to action. Somebody is going to get hurt."
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Cuomo added, "What is [Trump] going to say? What is he going to say, G-d forbid, when you’re walking up with your kids and they get loud and on that day a reporter doesn’t want to hear it. It’s a little push. Maybe it’s a fist fight. Maybe something worse. Is he going to own it?"
Cuomo later defended his remarks on Twitter in response to a user comparing Trump's attacks on the media similar to former Venezualean dictator Hugo Chavez. "Question is whether he means it same way. Trump is forgiven by base for what he says - but what if something happens?," he posted.
Here is the February 20 exchange:
6:52:52 AM – 6:57:37 AM [ 4 min., 15 sec.]
BROOKE BALDWIN: Let's start there with our CNN senior media correspondent and host of “Reliable Sources”, Brian Stelter, and CNN media analyst Bill Carter. Great to see both of you all. Brian Stelter, just to you, you know, this guy here was pretty smart in calling the President “Captain Double Down.” And if he doesn’t like you, it’s instinctual, he attacks, attacks. The great Carl Bernstein said this language is “treacherous.”
STELTER: I wonder what language can get even stronger. If it’s “enemy” in Week Four, what does say in Week Five, Week Six? Never mind, Year Two or Three. We’re talking about vermin, other language he can use
BILL CARTER: We have scum already out there and disgusting.
STELTER: It's poisonous behavior to be injecting this into the body politic day after day, especially “enemy,” which is especially severe. What it’s doing is infecting the mind, suggesting that the press is, against, literally against the American people. Not all the press, but only five news outlets including CNN.
CHRIS CUOMO: But to whom? Whom do you think actually believes what the President says about him? His base has animosity toward all institutions and President Trump got lucky finding his way into a real feeling of desperation and anger toward institutions. It's real. It's aimed at us and aimed at a lot of things and often with good reason. Literally, I believe he fell into that. I don't think it was his original plan. Who is he hurting us with exactly?
CARTER: Obviously, the people that already believe that the media is a force they don’t believe in. They’ll eat this up. They love it.
BALDWIN: They love it.
CARTER: They love this.
CUOMO: So, what's the risk? Because his base is going to be against anybody he tells them to be against. Who are you worried about exactly?
CARTER: I’m not actually worried. I don’t think the media will be cowed by it. I think that's part of the strategy to make the media back down. That's not going to happen. But I think his language also speaks to he doesn't have any regard for what he says. To call someone the “enemy of the people,” it sounds like Lenin. It doesn’t sound like a previous president. Previous presidents have used the word “enemy,” sort of, meaning their adversary. He specifically said “not my enemy,” “the enemy of the people,” “the country.” That’s a red flag of his very loose language. There’s risk in the way he says it. Same thing with the Sweden thing. He just throws this out there.
STELTER: I am worried. I'm worried because somebody who’s deranged can take that language and can take action against a journalist either at a rally or a more private setting.
CUOMO: But that's what I am saying because I said this during the campaign, it's going to happen and I don't want it to.
BALDWIN: That's what you mean by “someone’s going to get hurt.”
CUOMO: Somebody is going to get hurt. It's just a question of time. Just like every dynamic in life. If you take a legitimate reason to be upset and you pump them up, and it starts to become a call to action. Somebody is going to get hurt. What is he going to say? What is he going to say, G-d forbid, when you’re walking up with your kids and they get loud and on that day a reporter doesn’t want to hear it. It’s a little push. Maybe it’s a fist fight. Maybe something worse. Is he going to own it?
CARTER: Definitely not. It’s going to be the same reaction they had when there’s a shooting incident. It's a mentally deranged person. It’s a mentally ill person. You can't take the fact that he's using the rhetoric. They’ll just dismiss that. It will be this individual action. I think that’s how he’ll attack it. He’s not going to acknowledge responsibility.
CUOMO: It's just a matter of time, Brian. That's how this stuff works. It works with little kids in a sand box. It works with adults when they're in a bar drinking and it works right now with our president who is intoxicated by the idea of beating up the media. He thinks it works for him otherwise he wouldn't do it.
STELTER: And certainly the polls indicate that is correct. It is effective within his base. People talk about lack of trust. Lack of trust in the media. That means lack of trust in the media among Republicans, conservatives, and independents who lean to the right. That's where it exists. Jay Rosen of NYU has said some people, some Trump fans have opted out of journalism. They get journalism from InfoWars and other conspiracy sites that support Trump. Now they would disagree. The idea that the lack of trust, yes it’s is a real problem for America, but it's concentrated among Trump's base and it's where the challenge exists. I wonder what new startups, new news organizations, new ways are there to reach out to those voters who may not trust this network, but trust other sources of news.
CARTER: I think there’s going to be a comeback in the media.