CNN's Costello Hounds Democratic Rep. Over Syrian Refugee Vote

On Friday's CNN Newsroom, Carol Costello badgered Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader over his vote in favor of additional scrutiny for Syrian refugees applying to enter the U.S. Costello spotlighted how "some on Twitter have not been kind — calling you a traitor to Oregon and...xenophobic," and how "some say the intent of this bill is to really create so many checks that it will be impossible for any Syrian refugee to come into this country any time soon." She later touted how "some say that's just one part of what some call what's becoming a disturbing climate in America." [video below]

The anchor led the interview of the Oregon congressman with the "traitor" and "xenophobic" labels from Twitter, and asked, "Are you concerned?" Rep. Schrader answered, in part, by criticizing the media coverage of the bill: "There's been a lot of misrepresentation in the press — just like you did a minute ago — about how this would limit Syrian refugees into this country. I ask everyone in Oregon and the country: just read the bill. It's all three pages — very straightforward — and all it talks about is making sure that our intelligence and security forces...certify that people coming in through the refugee program...are not a threat."

Costello followed up by citing further liberal spin about the legislation, which the Democratic politician pushed back on:

CAROL COSTELLO: ...[S]ome say the intent of this bill is to really create so many checks that it will be impossible for any Syrian refugee to come into this country any time soon.

(...)

COSTELLO: Okay. So, Congressman, this vote to keep Syrian refugees — you know, a pause on Syrian refugees — I guess I should put it this way

SCHRADER: There's no pause, Carol. That's incorrect, with all due respect

COSTELLO: Okay. So — so dozens and dozens of checks. I'll go along with you, okay

SCHRADER: One additional check — yes, ma'am.

The CNN journalist then dropped her "disturbing climate" statement, and cited how "Donald Trump said he would not rule out a database that registered U.S./American Muslims — Ben Carson comparing these refugees to rabid dogs." She wondered, "Is this the kind of language that's good for our country?" Rep. Schrader defended the bill by attacking the GOP presidential candidates:

REP. KURT SCHRADER, (D), OREGON: ...I think what we need to make sure that we understand is, this is not a crazy Republican presidential contest with all these nut cakes saying these extremist things. This is responsible members of Congress having a serious debate about making sure this program's safe; and, in some cases, making a statement that they support the refugee program — and I get that.

Near the end of the segment, Costello pointed to a new ad from the Democratic National Committee that used a clip from former President George W. Bush to attack Trump, Carson, Jeb Bush, and Senator Ted Cruz: "George W. Bush — you heard him in that ad. He said those things about American Muslims after 9/11. The rhetoric about Muslims seems to be much more harsh today. What happened?" The congressman responded that "people tend to be afraid. Unfortunately, if a person that doesn't look like you; doesn't sound like you — maybe, doesn't dress like you — they're an easy target to potentially vilify, or blame for certain things that are happening."

Costello had led into the interview by playing the DNC ad, which juxtaposed former President Bush's "we do not fight against Islam; we fight against evil" statement against recent statements from the aforementioned Republican presidential candidates, who all used terms similar to "radical Islam." However, she didn't mention that Bush did indeed use the term "radical Islam" twice during his 2006 State of the Union address.

The transcript of the segment with Rep. Kurt Schrader from the November 20, 2015 edition of CNN Newsroom:

CAROL COSTELLO: On Capitol Hill, House lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a bill that could limit the number of Syrian refugees admitted into the United States. And for some Republican presidential candidates, the issue has become a popular talking point on the campaign trail — the Democratic National Committee is putting out this ad in response.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (from ABC's This Week, clipped for Democratic National Committee ad): We are at war with radical Islam.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (from Fox News Channel's Fox & Friends): Radical Islamic terrorism—

[DNC Graphic: "Equating Islam, All Muslims, With Terrorists..."]

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We do have a problem with radical Muslims.

BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Radical Islamic jihadists—

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (from CNN interview): Radical Islamic terrorism—

[DNC Graphic: "Is Oversimplification. And It's Wrong. But Don't Take Our Word For It."]

FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: We do not fight against Islam. We fight against evil. The war against terrorism is not a war against Muslims, nor is it a war against Arabs. It's a war against—

COSTELLO: All right. You get the idea here.

Joining me now to talk about this and more: Democratic Congressman Kurt Schrader of Oregon. He voted yes on that bill that could limit Syrian refugees coming into the United States. Good morning, sir.

REP. KURT SCHRADER, (D), OREGON: Hey. Good morning. How are you?

COSTELLO: I'm good.

Some on Twitter have not been kind — calling you a traitor to Oregon and a (sic) xenophobic. Are you concerned?

SCHRADER: No, because there's been a lot of misrepresentation in the press — just like you did a minute ago — about how this would limit Syrian refugees into this country. I ask everyone in Oregon and the country: just read the bill. It's all [of] three pages — very straightforward — and all it talks about is making sure that our intelligence and security forces — including the FBI — certify that people coming in through the refugee program — which every member of Congress wants to continue — are not a threat, under the current processes, to people of the United States.

People in this country are afraid, Carol. They deserve to know that the United States government and their Congress is doing everything to make sure that the refugees, that need to get out of these horrible places, can do so safely, and they do not pose a threat to Americans—

COSTELLO: Uh-huh. Well — well, I will say, some say the intent of this bill is to really create so many checks that it will be impossible for any Syrian refugee to come into this country any time soon—

SCHRADER: Well, that's absolutely false — absolutely false. Again, read the bill. Republican leadership could have put on a very strange — you know, whack-a-doodle type of bill that would have gone against Muslims; would have had all sorts of restrictions; stopping the Syrian refugee program altogether.

I give Speaker Ryan some credit for putting a responsible bill on the floor that just says, 'Hey, let's make sure we're doing our due diligence; and let's get the FBI really involved.' We've heard in the Paris attacks how the FBI has been integral to helping French authorities figure out what's going on. We're asking just the same thing for this country. I think that's a major responsibility of members of Congress — is national security, and reassure the American people it's all good. Read the bill. It's not at all what it's been hyped up to be.

COSTELLO: Okay. So, Congressman, this vote to keep Syrian refugees — you know, a pause on Syrian refugees — I guess I should put it this way—

SCHRADER: There's no pause, Carol. That's incorrect, with all due respect—

COSTELLO: Okay. So — so dozens and dozens of checks. I'll go along with you, okay—

SCHRADER: One additional check — yes, ma'am—

COSTELLO: But — but a lot of people say — one additional check — some say that's just one part of what some call what's becoming a disturbing climate in America. Donald Trump said he would not rule out a database that registered U.S./American Muslims — Ben Carson comparing these refugees to rabid dogs. Is this the kind of language that's good for our country?

SCHRADER: Absolutely not, and I think it's important — I think it's good to have folks on both sides of the debate, maybe, on this bill in Congress to — to show people that we're not a xenophobic country. We are a country of immigrants. My own family immigrated to this country in the late 1800s — proud of that heritage — and we should embrace that. That's one of the vital strengths of this country — is new thinking, new blood. But we want to make sure it's done safely. And unfortunately, different groups, and some in the media, are conflating these two — and that's not the case.

I think what we need to make sure that we understand is, this is not a crazy Republican presidential contest with all these nut cakes saying these extremist things. This is responsible members of Congress having a serious debate about making sure this program's safe; and, in some cases, making a statement that they support the refugee program — and I get that.

COSTELLO: Right. So what you're saying is the bill is sane, and some of the rhetoric coming from these Republican candidates are, in your words, 'nut cake'?

SCHRADER: Yes, ma'am.

COSTELLO: Okay. I just wanted to make that clear.

George W. Bush — you heard him in that ad. He said those things about American Muslims after 9/11. The rhetoric about Muslims seems to be much more harsh today. What happened?

SCHRADER: Well, again, I think people tend to be afraid. Unfortunately, if a person that doesn't look like you; doesn't sound like you — maybe, doesn't dress like you — they're an easy target to potentially vilify, or blame for certain things that are happening.

As we heard in an earlier segment on your show with Senator [Bob] Corker, this is a tough problem. The Syrian conflict is very, very complex. I don't agree with him that it's the United States's sole responsibility to jump in there. That did not work in Iraq. It did not work in Afghanistan. We have to have the way to the peace. We need to have Europe step up in a big way, put their ground forces there; need to step up — have the Gulf states step up; and, frankly, engage the Russians, who are now victims of Islamic State, into coming up with a political solution for the Syrian government, so there's a stable force there that can stay on the ground and keep the peace after everyone's gone.

COSTELLO: Congressman Kirk Schrader of Oregon, thank you so much for being with me.

SCHRADER: Hey. Thanks, Carol.

NB Daily Congress Foreign Policy Iraq Middle East Syria Bias by Omission Labeling War on Terrorism Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Religion Islam CNN CNN Newsroom Video ISIS ISIL Carol Costello Donald Trump Ben Carson
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