Karl to Bolton: Isn’t Trump Helping Putin Oppress, Murder Journalists?

In a truly ridiculous line of questions during ABC’s This Week on Sunday, fill-in host and White House correspondent Jon Karl badgered National Security Adviser John Bolton about President Trump’s combative relationship with the press and whether it helped Russian President Vladimir Putin crackdown on reporters there.

During the interview, which started off as a discussion about the President meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, Karl shifted gears to talk about Putin’s relationship with press freedoms. “Vladimir Putin and his government have jailed journalists, there even been accusations that there have been -- they've carried out murders of journalists critical of the Russian state,” Karl prefaced.

Karl proceeded to press Bolton on whether or not Trump contributed “to that authoritarian effort to undermine a free press when we hear him brand legitimate news organizations as fake, legitimate news stories as fake.” “Doesn't that contribute to exactly the kind of undermining of the free press that we see out of Russia,” he demanded to know.

No, I don't think that has anything to do with it,” the National Security Adviser said, clearly frustrated with the ridiculousness of the question. After reminding Karl that President Franklin D. Roosevelt met with Stalin with no pushback from the left, he requested they “try and have some historical perspective here and not act like we have the attention span of fruit flies.

But Karl was relentless and continued pushing his ludicrous suggestion:

 

 

But wait a minute. I'm not asking whether or not it's legitimate or appropriate for him to meet with Vladimir Putin. I'm asking if the President branding real news organizations, real news stories as not real contributes to this effort that we see from the Russians and from other authoritarians to undermine a free press?

Of course not. Really honestly, Jonathan, I think the question is silly,” Bolton declared. Foreseeing shirking liberal media types twisting his words, he quickly clarified, saying, “And don't say I'm attacking freedom of the press. I just characterized your question.

As evidence of this conspiracy to aid Putin, Karl pointed to a Bolton’s canceled interview with CNN that morning. “[T]he White House Press Secretary announced that your appearance would not go forward because a CNN reporter, quote, “disrespected” the President and Prime Minister May at the joint press conference,” he noted. “Is it really appropriate to deny a news organization access to a White House official because a reporter tried to ask a question at a press conference?

Bolton retorted by explaining how he doesn’t actively seek out the press and only appeared for interviews when he was requested too.

Vladimir Putin had been oppressing and murdering journalists long before President Trump started decrying fake news. What made Karl’s assertion even sillier was that the media had been portraying the Helsinki meeting as a dummy (Trump) about to get rolled by a genius (Putin). So given Russia/Putin’s history and the media’s depiction of the roles, why would Putin need Trump to help him? The only point was to suggest Trump was complicit in it.

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

 

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ABC
This Week
July 15, 2018
9:18:00 AM Eastern

(…)

JONATHAN KARL: And I want to ask you about Putin and freedom of the press. Vladimir Putin and his government have jailed journalists, there even been accusations that there have been -- they've carried out murders of journalists critical of the Russian state. And we hear President Trump -- doesn't he kind of contribute to that authoritarian effort to undermine a free press when we hear him brand legitimate news organizations as fake, legitimate news stories as fake. Doesn't that contribute to exactly the kind of undermining of the free press that we see out of Russia?

JOHN BOLTON: No, I don't think that has anything to do with it. Let's just be clear. Franklin Roosevelt met with Joseph Stalin at a time when activity in Russia was a lot worse than it is today. I'm not excusing present conduct but it didn't seem to bother Franklin Roosevelt and liberal Democrats weren't bothered at the time when he met with Stalin. So let's try and have some historical perspective here and not act like we have the attention span of fruit flies.

KARL: But wait a minute. I'm not asking whether or not it's legitimate or appropriate for him to meet with Vladimir Putin. I'm asking if the President branding real news organizations, real news stories as not real contributes to this effort that we see from the Russians and from other authoritarians to undermine a free press?

BOLTON: Of course not. Really honestly, Jonathan, I think the question is silly.

KARL: Well, let me ask you about --

BOLTON: And don't say I'm attacking freedom of the press. I just characterized your question.

KARL: Okay, well, you were also scheduled to appear on CNN this morning and the White House Press Secretary announced that your appearance would not go forward because a CNN reporter, quote, “disrespected” the President and Prime Minister May at the joint press conference. Is it really appropriate to deny a news organization access to a White House official because a reporter tried to ask a question at a press conference?

BOLTON: Look, in reality, I don't seek out the press. I don't talk to them. I appear when I'm asked to and if I'm not -- if I'm not asked to appear I don't do it. And I don't communicate with them either as you could find out if you consulted your friends in the Washington press corps whom I don't communicate with.

(…)


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