Ken Burns Laughably Claims He’s Always Been ‘Straight Down the Middle’ and ‘Non-Partisan’

Appearing on Thursday’s CBS This Morning, liberal PBS filmmaker Ken Burns absurdly argued: “I’ve spent my entire professional life being straight down the middle, non-partisan. Just trying to tell American facts. I try, in public television, to reach all audiences.” He made that declaration despite being on the show to promote his anti-Donald Trump crusade in the 2016 campaign.

At the top of the segment, a clip played of a recent politically-charged commencement speech Burns delivered at Stanford University on June 12: “You must do everything you can to defeat the retrograde forces that have invaded our democratic process, divided our house. To fight against...the dictatorial tendencies of the candidate with zero experience...” Co-host Charlie Rose observed: “Filmmaker Ken Burns was both passionate and political....but it marks a departure.”

Later in the exchange, Burns remarked: “You know, you said that I was passionate and political. I'd like to say I was passionate and American....And those of us who know just a little bit about history are aghast at the amount of oxygen this [Trump] candidacy has gotten.”

Co-host Norah O’Donnell wondered: “Why is Donald Trump not qualified?” Burns ranted: “He is just temperamentally unsuited. And we like to think of that in a psychological way – and that may be true, I can’t psychoanalyze him – but he’s riddled with lies and inconsistencies and will say whatever it takes.”

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Fellow co-host Gayle King asked if he was “worried” about retaliation from Trump. Burns proclaimed:

Look, I'm an American citizen. I’ve read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, I’m not sure that he has. There’s a wonderful part of it called the First Amendment. I'm allowed to say something. I don't represent the views of PBS or anybody else. I represent myself as a citizen and I’ve joined with a lot of historians – a lot of historians.  

Despite Burns’s assertion that he’s always been “straight down the middle,” the facts reveal a self-proclaimed Democrat routinely using his media position to push a liberal agenda:

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Ken Burns Excuses Media Covering Up 'Distracting' 'Gotcha Things' for JFK and FDR

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Here are excerpts of the July 14 exchange with Burns:

8:43 AM ET

KEN BURNS [STANFORD UNIVERSITY, JUNE 12]:  You must do everything you can to defeat the retrograde forces that have invaded our democratic process, divided our house. To fight against – no matter your political persuasion – the dictatorial tendencies of the candidate with zero experience in the much-maligned but subtle art of governance.

CHARLIE ROSE: Filmmaker Ken Burns was both passionate and political in his Stanford University commencement speech. The video became an online sensation, but it marks a departure. Burns has spent more than 35 years telling America's story in documentaries.

(...)

8:47 AM ET

ROSE: Can we turn to politics and the speech? Because in this speech, which has gotten so much attention, you talked about American politics.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Burns Notice; Filmmaker on Lashing Out Against Trump in Speech]

BURNS: You know, you said that I was passionate and political. I'd like to say I was passionate and American. As you know, Charlie, I’ve spent my entire professional life being straight down the middle, non-partisan. Just trying to tell American facts. I try, in public television, to reach all audiences. It isn't, you know, the Upper West Side and Russian Hill, it’s – you know, we have good ratings in Alaska and Oklahoma and Arkansas and West Virginia. And I love it that way. But there comes a time when we have to stop and say, you know, each one of the people here, even Zachary Taylor, who had no previous experience was qualified for this office. That is not the case this year. And those of us who know just a little bit about history are aghast at the amount of oxygen this candidacy has gotten.

NORAH O’DONNELL: Why is Donald Trump not qualified?

BURNS: He is just temperamentally unsuited. And we like to think of that in a psychological way – and that may be true, I can’t psychoanalyze him – but he’s riddled with lies and inconsistencies and will say whatever it takes. He didn't give us any information on his own finances. But more important, if you’re interested if having a healthy economy, if he does half the things he's promised, we’re going to be – make the recession of 2008, 2009 look like child's play. If are you’re interested in world stability, what he said about NATO and what that will then produce with Russia and China, who will become more aggressive and adventurous, and how he’ll react. We don't want that war.

GAYLE KING: Ken, you know, we have to go, it's been Donald Trump's MO when attacked that he strikes back. Are you prepared for that? Are you worried about that?

BURNS: Look, I'm an American citizen. I’ve read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, I’m not sure that he has. There’s a wonderful part of it called the First Amendment. I'm allowed to say something. I don't represent the views of PBS or anybody else. I represent myself as a citizen and I’ve joined with a lot of historians – a lot of historians.  

KING: Ken Burns. We gotta go, Ken Burns.

BURNS: Yes.

KING: Grover Cleveland, Again!

BURNS: Thank you.

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