CNN Panelist: If You Laugh at Trump’s Jokes, You’re Damaging Society

During a speech at a campaign rally for a congressional race in Pennsylvania on Saturday, President Trump unleashed on the liberal media and NBC Political Director Chuck Todd whom he called a “sleeping son of a b*tch.” And as would be expected, CNN media reporter Brian Stelter and his Reliable Sources panel responded with their own righteously indignant hot takes. Chief among them was Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik who argued that if you laughed at Trump’s jokes you were damaging society.

Stelter set up the tone of the show to once again be all about bemoaning how Trump treated the media trying to undermine him. “Journalists are still near the top of Trump's enemies list and that attack against Chuck Todd, in particular, has to be called out. It's offensive, and it's just plain wrong. And if the President doesn't know that, maybe Melania can tell him,” he snidely told the camera during his opening monologue.

Zurawik appeared during Stelter’s second panel dedicated to whining about the President, and he bitterly declared that “we're amusing ourselves to death.” According to him, “we lose our ability to function as rationally informed citizens every time we chuckle or smile at something he says!

What he did at that rally, April [Ryan] is so right. It's evil and the stuff he said about Chuck Todd is dangerous, but too many people are smiling at it, and even some are applauding. Very dangerous,” Zurawik loudly proclaimed. And to keep Zurawik going, Stelter chimed in to ask him: “What you're saying, David, it raises this question how journalists can avoid being part of the act, part of the entertainment?

Very much so, Brian,” Zurawik eagerly responded, adding, "We have to stop doing it … We have to do it, because I think a lot of people in the public, it's like going to the mall on Friday night and seeing a funny movie. Look at what Trump's doing today. No! Trump is changing our lives for the worse!"

 

 

If people laughing at Trump’s jabs at the media and Chuck Todd were irreparably damaging “our ability to function as rationally informed citizens,” then Zurawik needs to go talk to Todd’s NBC colleagues and his Meet the Press panel ASAP because they were having fun with it that morning.

When Todd appeared on NBC’s Sunday Today, earlier that morning, his colleague Willie Geist made light of Trump’s comment after introducing him. “Chuck, good morning. You're looking especially alert today. I just wanted to point out. Really looking sharp this morning,” he said as Todd chuckled.

And then later on Meet the Press, Todd’s own panel was laughing about it just as the show was wrapping up. “Of all days to lose an hour, this was a day we needed an extra hour and then some,” he said remarking on how much news there was to cover. But another NBC colleague, Andrea Mitchell swooped in and jokingly said they needed the extra hour “to avoid being sleepy-eyed.”  

“There's that, too. Thank you very much,” Todd said with a slight smile. “That's all we have for today. Neanderthals, sleepy eyes, and all. We will be back next week. If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.” And as he was signing off, the rest of the four-person panel could be heard giggling in the background. Clips of these moments can be found in the video above.

Zurawik’s declaration about laughing at Trump’s words appeared to be a complete 180 degree flip from where he had been previously on the President’s media criticisms exactly one year ago. During a March 12, 2017, Reliable Sources appearance, he cautioned Stelter about freaking out too much about Trump:

But with Trump, the thing is, that people have taken it to this extreme thing and almost gotten hysterical about it every time they push back,” he said at the time. “And look, it is bad. It's awful. I wouldn't defend that or anything Trump does but words are not actions like that Brian.

The relevant portions of the transcript are below, click expand to read:

 

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CNN
Reliable Sources
March 11, 2018
11:01:15 AM Eastern

(…)

DONALD TRUMP: Sleepy eyes Chuck Todd, he's a sleeping son of a bitch. [Flash] CNN fake as hell, CNN. The worst. [Flash] That Washington, D.C. it got a lot of evil there. [Flash] A lot of bad people. A lot of fake media, look at them, a lot of fake media.

[Crowd boos]

BRIAN STELTER: Journalists are still near the top of Trump's enemies list and that attack against Chuck Todd, in particular, has to be called out. It's offensive, and it's just plain wrong. And if the President doesn't know that, maybe Melania can tell him?

(…)

11:19:31 AM Eastern

DAVID ZURAWIK: But we're amusing ourselves to death, Brian, and we lose our ability to function as rationally informed citizens every time we chuckle or smile at something he says! What he did at that rally, April is so right. It's evil and the stuff he said about Chuck Todd is dangerous, but too many people are smiling at it, and even some are applauding. Very dangerous.

STELTER: What you're saying, David, it raises this question how journalists can avoid being part of the act, part of the entertainment?

ZURAWIK: Very much so. Brian, I couldn't -- that's the great point. We have to stop doing it. You know, just as John and April said, no, no, no. This is not okay. We have to do it, because I think a lot of people in the public, it's like going to the mall on Friday night and seeing a funny movie. Look at what Trump's doing today. No! Trump is changing our lives for the worse!

(…)


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CyberAlerts Double Standards Cable Television CNN Reliable Sources Video Brian Stelter David Zurawik Chuck Todd Donald Trump