Bernstein: Comey Firing ‘More Dangerous Situation’ Than Watergate

In the immediate aftermath of the firing of FBI Director James Comey, CNN was a hub of outrageous hyperbole and rancor. Five days after the event, and CNN is still that hub. On Global Public Square, Fareed Zakaria claimed Trump was a “danger to American democracy.” Meanwhile, on Reliable Sources, analyst Carl Bernstein claimed the firing was worse than Watergate. “I think this is a potentially more dangerous situation than Watergate and we are at a very dangerous moment,” he told CNN’s Brian Stelter and Jeffrey Toobin.

That declaration came after Stelter cued him up, asking: “Since Watergate was brought up, Carl. How do you assess this situation versus the story that you helped share with the world in the 1970s?”

And that's because we are looking at the possibility that the President of the United States and those around him during an election campaign colluded with a hostile foreign power to undermine the basis of our democracy: free elections,” Bernstein continued.

According to Bernstein, “We don't know the facts.” But that didn’t stop him speculating that “what we do know is that the President of the United States seems to be doing everything in his power to keep us from knowing the facts, including firing the director of the FBI

Bernstein also asserted that the White House was actively trying to cover up something dark and insidious:

So the question of a cover-up seems to me to have been answered a while ago. There is a cover-up going on to keep us from knowing what happened here. Whether that means the President of the United States obstructed justice or not or those around him did, we don't know. But what we see is that at every turn this President is impeding the ability of those who were chosen to investigate to do so. Including the House and Senate committees. So it is truly a dangerous moment. It is different than Watergate.

Stelter teed Bernstein up again, this time asking him if it was appropriate for The Washington Post to publish an anonymous quote questioning the President’s mental condition on the front page. As would be expected from the guy who smeared Trump’s thoughts as brain tumors, he was fine with it.

We have many reporters, myself included, who have talked to numerous people, Republicans on Capitol Hill who in private will tell you they doubt the stability of this President and that in the last week it has really been demonstrated,” he claimed, citing anonymous sources. “But the tweets that President of the United States has been making are a roadmap of his mind. And that roadmap takes very crooked corners.

To start off the segment, Stelter began by asking Toobin if he still stood by his comments from the night the Comey news broke and how “some have criticized you for going over the top.” Stelter lauded Toobin’s initial reaction and called it the “defining moment in the coverage of the past week.”

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“I do. I can't say I don't have some mixed feelings about the whole experience,” Toobin explained. “I stand by everything I say. It's not usually the way I express myself but, you know, I think I was right.” He also claimed that Trump “more or less admitted to Lester Holt” that he fire Comey because of the investigation.

But that’s not accurate according to ABC White House Correspondent Jon Karl, who on This Week noted that “I think what he was really saying is: that on the idea that there would be massive blowback cause he was firing the guy in terms of the investigation, he was not worried about the blowback because he thinks the Russian investigation is nothing.”

Filling the show with outrageous hyperbole against Trump is par for the course for Stelter and Reliable Sources. It’s the same show which for months has been openly calling and insinuating that Trump is a dictator. 

Transcript below:

CNN
Reliable Sources
May 14, 2017
11:01:51 AM Eastern

BRIAN STELTER: Jeffrey, first off to you, Tuesday, 5:45 P.M. you’re here at the CNN New York bureau. You find out Comey has been canned. You immediately speak with Wolf Blitzer on the air. And I think it was a defining moment in the coverage of the past week. You said this was a grotesque abuse of power. Some have criticized you for going over the top. Do you stand by that 5 days later?

JEFFREY TOOBIN: I do. I can't say I don't have some mixed feelings about the whole experience. Cause you know, I have worked at CNN since 2002. I have been on television a lot. And I try to be more analytic than polemical. My demeanor, what I say. But you know, I have to be honest. And you know, I did come of age watching Watergate. I was a teenager during those years. And you know, my heroes were not the politicians. My heroes were Woodward and Bernstein. And I know that story well. And I didn't have to look up the date October 20, 1973, the day of the Saturday Night Massacre.

It's the same thing that Trump was doing by firing Comey as he more or less admitted to Lester Holt. And so, I stand by everything I say. It's not usually the way I express myself but, you know, I think I was right.

STELTER: Let's go to Carl. He's traveling. I'm grateful he can join us today and talk through this. Since Watergate was brought up, Carl. How do you assess this situation versus the story that you helped share with the world in the 1970s?

CARL BERNSTEIN: I think this is a potentially more dangerous situation than Watergate and we are at a very dangerous moment. And that's because we are looking at the possibility that the President of the United States and those around him during an election campaign colluded with a hostile foreign power to undermine the basis of our democracy: free elections.

We don't know the facts, but what we do know is that the President of the United States seems to be doing everything in his power to keep us from knowing the facts, including firing the director of the FBI because, says the President of the United States, of, quote, “this Russia thing.” So the question of a cover-up seems to me to have been answered a while ago.

There is a cover-up going on to keep us from knowing what happened here. Whether that means the President of the United States obstructed justice or not or those around him did, we don't know. But what we see is that at every turn this President is impeding the ability of those who were chosen to investigate to do so. Including the House and Senate committees. So it is truly a dangerous moment. It is different than Watergate.

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STELTER: His fitness for office. His emotional state. Very difficult to journalists to address, isn’t it? Your old paper The Washington Post today’s paper quotes a Trump ally saying: “Is he in the grip of some kind of paranoid delusion?” Now, it is an anonymous quote on the front page of The Washington Post. Is that appropriate, Carl?

BERNSTEIN: It's not only appropriate. I think, look at the conservative ideologue commentators whether you talk about Jonah Goldberg, others, Krauthammer, who are questioning the very stability of the President of the United States. We have many reporters, myself included, who have talked to numerous people, Republicans on Capitol Hill who in private will tell you they doubt the stability of this President and that in the last week it has really been demonstrated. It's part of the story and it is very hard to cover. It's a different dynamic than we have ever had to deal with before. But the tweets that President of the United States has been making are a roadmap of his mind. And that roadmap takes very crooked corners.

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