In sharp contrast to the wall of criticism by the networks of President Donald Trump's threat to veto the pork laden COVID relief bill, a refreshing bit of political diversity broke through the groupthink on CNN's Cuomo Prime Time on Tuesday. Although host Chris Cuomo and guest Anthony Scaramucci concurred with the usual CNN hardline on Trump, CNN anchor Michael Smerconish provided a sharply contrasting view that seemed to surprise them.
Cuomo kicked off the segment by echoing pretty much what most of the rest of the media had been saying in their slamming of Trump's veto threat:
CNN’s Smerconish defends Trump’s 11th hour push for $2000 checks as “most effective thing he’s done” since election pic.twitter.com/VrxgYwmDgT— TV News HQ (@TVNewsHQ) December 23, 2020
CHRIS CUOMO: All right. So, what has Trump done by threatening to veto this bill?
From our reporting and, me, working phones and texts, during the show, and in commercial, I can't see it as anything good, right now, except for himself, this kind of illusion that he wanted to do better for you.
...Mooch, does that square, Anthony, with what you're hearing from around him, on what the play is? I mean, it's an obvious chest thump, right? "I want more money for you. I'm the good guy."
But he never fought this fight, when they were fighting it. So, what's the play?
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI: Well it does square, and he had lunch with one of our mutual friends today, who is trying to caution him on what he is doing right now. Hopefully, he's listening.
But listen, I was with him, in July of 2017, on Air Force One. He wanted to veto the Russian Sanctions bill. And I begged him not to do that. I said, "Listen, what's going to happen is they're going to override it. They're going to totally emasculate your presidency."
And so, he doesn't care about that stuff now, because he's got 28 days, 29 days to go. But when he realizes that they're going to emasculate him, by overriding his veto, he's going to sign the legislation. That's my prediction, because he doesn't want that level of humiliation with the 28 days, 29 days to go.
If Cuomo expected confirmation on this opinion from Smerconish, we got a hint that it was not to be.
CUOMO: Smerconish is shaking his head "No." How do you see it?
MICHAEL SMERCONISH: I don't agree with either of you. I think you're underestimating the President.
I don't think the perception of him being the Grinch who stole Christmas is accurate. I think that this is arguably, politically speaking, the most effective thing that he has done, since losing the election.
The American people aren't going to understand the difference between the COVID relief bill and the omnibus spending bill. They are going to think William Proxmire. You remember, Chris?
I wish Smerconish at this point had asked Cuomo what he meant about the William Proxmire reference -- the old Democrat Senator from Wisconsin -- because one might suspect that poor Fredo had no clue what as to what he was talking about.
SMERCONISH: You remember the Golden Fleece Awards?
When they hear things like counting amberjack fish, which is what he said in that video, at a time when Americans are getting $600, the $600 is going to sound like chump change. And it is him, frankly, laying back on those arguments that first put him in office, that he's the champion of the working person, and he wants $2,000...
CUOMO: I agree.
SMERCONISH: ...in everybody's pocket.
CUOMO: I agree.
SMERCONISH: I think it's very effective for him.
CUOMO: I agree. For him! I'm saying, I don't think he can get it done.
And there's a cost to the dilatory nature of this, Smerc. Every day that is delayed, because we're seeing whether or not he is going to be Robin Hood or not, people are starving in this country. And the check is not going to come.
SMERCONISH: They are, Chris. But you are looking at the roll call, and you are assuming that those those votes in the Senate and the House hold firm.
SMERCONISH: I don't know what tomorrow brings. I don't know what the reaction is on AM terrestrial talk radio and on that other cable station and so forth. I'm sure they're thumping their chests in support of the President, and that base may shake those votes.
CNN President Jeff Zucker might not have been happy with that bit of political diversity on his network but some of the few viewers they still have probably found it refreshing.