EX-CIA Chief Compares Immigration Policy to Auschwitz on 'New Day'

On Monday’s edition of New Day, co-host John Berman had on former CIA director under George W. Bush, retired General Michael Hayden to discuss Hayden’s controversial tweet comparing the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy towards illegal immigration to the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz. In a rare yet commendable “man bites dog” act of journalism, Berman pressed back against this ludicrous claim after Hayden doubled down.

 

 

General Hayden doubled down on his tweet saying:

Yeah, I guess I wanted to grab's people's attention, John because as I reflected on this Saturday afternoon, this seemed to be a very important matter to my mind. I didn't choose that picture at random. I have been to that camp actually several times, John. I walked down that railroad sighting where the families were separated. That's why I used that picture. That's the scene where families were separated. Now, look, I know we're not Nazi Germany, all right, but there is a commonality there and a fear on my part that we have standards we have to live up to. You know, John, if you walk down that track, you go through the portal and you open up onto acres and acres where the barracks used to be and you can still see the footings of the barracks and beyond that the crematorium. Then you look at the sky and its blue, and the trees are green, and the dirt is brown. I mean this really happened. And although that's in Poland now, it was in Germany during the war. I lived in Germany for three years. A more civilized people you cannot find. So I was trying to point out we need be careful not to move in that direction.

New Day has had issues in the past with allowing guests to come on and perform political stunts without any pushback from the hosts. On this very issue on June 6th, Senator Jeff Merkley was allowed to go on the program try to gain political points without any pushback from co-host Alisyn Camerota against his misleading statements. However, to give credit where credit is due, Berman countered Hayden’s claims, saying:

The comparison, though, is one that critics latch onto. They will note, among other things. That the Jews who walked through that door, did not choose to walk through that door. The families going to the border, the parents are choosing to go there. The parents crossing the border have committed a crime, whether it be a misdemeanor or felony, you can argue they’ve committed a crime. The people that walked through the gate at Auschwitz, they had committed no crime. Also the people who walked through the gate, they were killed. The people crossing the border here, that is not what is happening. And then there’s people who say leave the holocaust out of it. Just leave it out of it completely. Any discussion of comparing that to anything else is inapt.

Despite the ridiculousness of Hayden’s tweet, Berman’s actions during this segment were a breath of fresh air compared to the nauseating quantity and quality of coverage that this issue has received from mainstream news outlets. For example, last Friday on Morning Joe where Joe Scarborough compared Trump policies to the Nazis and North Korea. While New Day and CNN as a whole have been frequent offenders of such biased coverage, John Berman deserves credit for how he handled this absurd tweet.

A transcript of the relevant segment is below.

New Day

6/18/18

6:24am ET 

JOHN BERMAN: All right. The outrage is growing over the Trump administration’s practice of separating thousands of children from their parents at the border. The White House chose this. Criticism is coming from both sides of the aisle, including former NSA and CIA director, General Michael Hayden. He tweeted this black and white photograph of Auschwitz writing, “other governments have separated mothers and children.” Let me tell you something. This tweet caused a lot of debate. Joining us now is the man behind CNN national security analyst, retired General Michael Hayden. General, thank you very much for being with us. You weren’t born yesterday. You knew how controversial this tweet would be. Let’s put it back up again so people can see it. Why did you decide to send that out?

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN (ret.): Yeah, I guess I wanted to grab's people's attention, John because as I reflected on this Saturday afternoon, this seemed to be a very important matter to my mind. I didn't choose that picture at random. I have been to that camp actually several times, John. I walked down that railroad sighting where the families were separated. That's why I used that picture. That's the scene where families were separated. Now, look, I know we're not Nazi Germany, all right, but there is a commonality there and a fear on my part that we have standards we have to live up to. You know, John, if you walk down that track, you go through the portal and you open up onto acres and acres where the barracks used to be and you can still see the footings of the barracks and beyond that the crematorium. Then you look at the sky and its blue, and the trees are green, and the dirt is brown. I mean this really happened. And although that's in Poland now, it was in Germany during the war. I lived in Germany for three years. A more civilized people you cannot find. So I was trying to point out we need be careful not to move in that direction.

BERMAN: The comparison, though, is one that critics latch onto. They will note, among other things. That the Jews who walked through that door, did not choose to walk through that door. The families going to the border, the parents are choosing to go there. The parents crossing the border have committed a crime, whether it be a misdemeanor or felony, you can argue they’ve committed a crime. The people that walked through the gate at Auschwitz, they had committed no crime. Also the people who walked through the gate, they were killed. The people crossing the border here, that is not what is happening. And then there’s people who say leave the holocaust out of it. Just leave it out of it completely. Any discussion of comparing that to anything else is inapt.

HAYDEN: That is a picture from 1943-1944, John. Let's run the clock back to 1933, which is really what I was trying to address, all right. And in 1933, what did we see in Germany? A cult of personality, a cult of nationalism, a cult of grievance. A press operation that looked like and was the ministry of propaganda. And then the punishing of marginalized groups. Now John, I'm not saying our needle is anywhere near the red. I'm not claiming that at all. But I am claiming our needle is moving, and it's not moving in the right direction. And if I overachieve by comparing it to Birkenau, I apologize to anyone who may have felt offended. But John, I have repeated, you and I have shared this before. The veneer of civilization is quite thin. We need to be careful about our own society and not accept as normal things that are not normal.

BERMAN: You saw you are not making a one-for-one comparison. But do you believe that the Trump administration is on that spectrum that you just laid out. The 1933 spectrum you were just discussing.

HAYDEN: John, I was very careful with my words. I said that the needle is nowhere near the red, but the needle isn't moving in a positive direction with regard to grievance, nationalism, cult of personality, lies and attacks on marginalized groups. Those things have changed in the past couple of years.

 

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