CNN Hypes Trump Using Obama's Middle Name; 'Post-Fact Check Culture'

On Thursday's Legal View, CNN's Ashleigh Banfield zeroed in on Donald Trump recently using President Obama's name, including "Hussein." Ali Velshi replied that "we ought not be all that surprised; because...not so long ago, Donald Trump had still not let go of his idea that Barack Hussein Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim. As a Kenyan-born Muslim, I can tell you he's not one of my people." Brian Stelter played up that Trump is "using coded language...we should recognize the code words that are being used; the dog whistles that are being blown here." [video below]

Correspondent Eugene Scott later bemoaned that "we are in a post-fact check culture in this election. And what we put out — regardless of how much we say that this is not what the evidence and the intelligence supports — a lot of his [Trump's] supporters will not believe us...because he's created this system of mistrust in the media....if you've made up in your mind that conspiracy theories are what you're going to buy into, and that you're going to disagree with CNN no matter what we say, you get away with things like that."

Banfield played the clip of Trump from a campaign event and pointed out to Velshi, "[Trump] puts these things out there, whether they are hyperbolic or not, they get traction...Some people might hear them in an echo; and that, for them, is the reality; and then highlights it with the name." The CNN analyst replied with his birther point, and soon added, "The worrisome part about saying that these are the MVPs or founders of ISIL is that it's a very dangerous organization....It requires a very sophisticated global approach to taking these guys out. And this kind of talk oversimplifies about the most complicated matter we're facing today."

Stelter then interjected with his "coded language" declaration. Banfield followed up by playing a soundbite of Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson partially agreeing with Trump about President Obama and Hillary Clinton being "founders" of ISIS. She asked Scott, "So is this a case, Eugene, of some infectious campaigning — an effect that he's having on other people in the race?" The correspondent answered with his "post-fact check culture" contention.

Tell the Truth 2016

The CNN anchor later bewailed that "it concerns me that people are so in their echo chambers that media and journalism, which has been such a cornerstone of this country, is kind of becoming irrelevant to them." Stelter ran to the defense of his industry: "Sometimes, journalists make mistakes — right? We are not — we're not error-proof. We make mistakes. But, generally, my experience with journalists, they try really hard to get to the truth; to get to the reality."

The transcript of the relevant portions of the Velshi/Stelter/Scott panel discussion segment from the August 11, 2016 edition of CNN's Legal View With Ashleigh Banfield:

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD: And one thing we thought might actually get some ink or some audio today—

ALI VELSHI: Yeah—

BANFIELD: That really isn't, is the recitation of Barack Obama's full name with his middle name—

VELSHI: Right; right — yeah—

[CNN Graphic: "Trump Addresses President As 'Barack Hussein Obama'"]

BANFIELD: And I'm going to play for you how he brought that into the same speech in which he's calling him founder of ISIS last night. Have a listen to this.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE (from campaign event): And then, I heard where the people who speak — largely, they speak Russian — they want to be with Russia — okay? They want to be with Russia — maybe. And we'll find out. But this was taken during the administration of Barack Hussein Obama — okay?

[CNN Graphic: "Trump Slams 'Barack Hussein Obama'"]

BANFIELD: So, Ali Velshi, he puts these things out there—

ALI VELSHI: Yeah—

BANFIELD: Whether they are hyperbolic or not, they get traction; they get ink—

VELSHI: Sure—

BANFIELD: Some people might hear them in an echo; and that, for them, is the reality—

VELSHI: Yeah — and that is the danger—

BANFIELD: And then highlights it with the name—

VELSHI: So, again, we ought not be all that surprised; because on this channel and others not so long ago, Donald Trump had still not let go of his idea that — that Barack Hussein Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim—

BANFIELD: Right—

VELSHI: As a Kenyan-born Muslim, I can tell you (Banfield laughs), he's not one of my people—

BANFIELD: I forgot! You really are a Kenyan-born Muslim—

VELSHI: I really am a Kenyan-born Muslim — right—

BANFIELD: So you're speaking with authority—

VELSHI: And he wasn't at any of the meetings. (Banfield laughs) But the interesting part about — the worrisome part about saying that these are the MVPs or founders of ISIL is that it's a very dangerous organization — such that even al Qaeda thinks that they're kind of nuts. We actually have to know how to take them apart; and in order to know how to take them apart, you actually have to have a reasonably sophisticated understanding — which is hard for people to come to, because it's complicated. It's really complicated out there. But you — you can't take them out if you don't know who they are—

BANFIELD: But speaking of being out there—

VELSHI: So when you go and mislead people by suggesting—

BANFIELD: You were just out there—

VELSHI: I'm there with some frequency. And I was on the Syrian border, and it's really complicated. When you get down on the ground, you realize that there — the enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend. It requires a very sophisticated global approach to taking these guys out. And this kind of talk oversimplifies about the most complicated matter we're facing today—

BANFIELD: And in—

STELTER: 'Oversimplifies' is a great word—

BANFIELD: Yeah—

STELTER: I'm not a professional linguist, but that's what Trump is doing here. He's talking about a foreign policy critique, but he's also using coded language—

VELSHI: Right—

STELTER: When he mentions the middle name 'Hussein,' he's using coded language. And all of us, as audiences for this — whether we like Trump or dislike Trump — we should recognize the code words that are being used; the dog whistles that are being blown here—

VELSHI: That's right—

BANFIELD: So the — so Donald Trump — I mean, we talk a lot about his strategies of doing this, but he may not be the only one. It might just be that Gary Johnson is seeing that this is an effective strategy against Hillary Clinton. This is what Gary Johnson had to say regarding this founding of ISIS comment that Donald Trump made. This was just this morning — take a look — on MSNBC.

STEPHANIE RUHLE (from interview on MSNBC): Is Hillary the founder of ISIS; Obama the founder of ISIS?

GARY JOHNSON, (L) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Unintentionally.

RUHLE: Unintentionally. So you would agree it's a policy issue. It's their policies that led to the rise of ISIS. Is that what you're saying?

JOHNSON: Yes. And it wasn't intentional, but you can't make it up. When they go in and they support the opposition in Libya and Syria — and the opposition is aligned with ISIS and we arm the opposition and they lose those arms to ISIS — unintentionally.

BANFIELD: So is this a case, Eugene, of some infectious campaigning — an effect that he's having on other people in the race?

SCOTT: I think this is the case of two things with Gary Johnson and with Donald Trump. We are in a post-fact check culture in this election. And what we put out — regardless of how much we say that this is not what the evidence and the intelligence supports — a lot of his supporters will not believe us. They — because he's created this system of mistrust in the media — even though we have made it very clear that what he said is not actually true.

BANFIELD: When you say the post-fact check—

STELTER: We can all choose whether it's a post-fact check culture—

BANFIELD: Yeah!

STELTER: You all at home get to decide if we are in a post-fact check culture.

(...)

BANFIELD: I'm wondering what this means to live in this post-fact check. Is it too much too fast? We can't even keep up.

SCOTT: Well, if you want to keep up, you can keep up. If you desire truth; if you desire accuracy; you can. But if you've made up in your mind that conspiracy theories are what you're going to buy into, and that you're going to disagree with CNN no matter what we say, you get away with things like that—

BANFIELD: Does your work not matter?

SCOTT: It matters to those who want to know the truth and facts in this election. For those who want to buy into what is newsy and what leads to applauses, we're not worthy.

BANFIELD: So, Brian, can I just ask you — I have to wrap this up — but it concerns me that people are so in their echo chambers that — that media and journalism, which has been such a cornerstone of this country, is kind of becoming irrelevant to them.

(...)

STELTER: Sometimes, journalists make mistakes — right? We are not — we're not error-proof. We make mistakes. But, generally, my experience with journalists, they try really hard to get to the truth; to get to the reality. That's what you have to keep doing. Ali, is that your experience?

VELSHI: Yeah. No, I completely agree. We just have to keep doing it, and do it better; work harder; and hope that more people pick up on this kind of stuff—

BANFIELD: Should we say it louder?

STELTER: And not let this be a post-fact check culture.

NBDaily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential CNN Other CNN Video Brian Stelter Ashleigh Banfield Ali Velshi Donald Trump Barack Obama Hillary Clinton
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