While Joy Reid may have been absent on Sunday’s edition of her MSNBC show, AM Joy, that did not mean that her loyal viewers did not have the opportunity to enjoy the hysterical anti-Trump commentary that they so look forward to every weekend. In spite of all the Trump-hating, anti-Trump Republican Strategist Evan Siegfried did manage to make a good point when highlighting why conservatives distrust the media.
Guest host Jonathan Capehart and panelists Siegfried, Eric Boehlert, and Maria Hinojosa reacted to a tweet from President Trump going after CNN and suggesting that the United States should start its own worldwide network to show the world how “GREAT” it is. Siegfried accused President Trump of having “CNN envy.”
After Boehlert accused Fox News of “smearing people” and “pushing hate and conspiracies,” Siegfried injected some common sense into the discussion towards the end of the segment. According to Siegfried, “there are more and more reporters on both sides of the aisle, at least from my perspective as a conservative, who either inadvertently or willfully will blur the lines; we’ll see liberal journalists do it and conservatives do it. And that’s a disservice to journalism overall.”
Before he could go any further, Hinojosa jumped in and declared a “code red,” arguing that the fact that “we have an administration that every single day has Sarah Sanders out there spewing lies” means that journalists have to go “beyond the reporting,” implying that they have an obligation to turn into an advocacy group to combat “an administration that is lying to us on a daily point and putting propaganda down people’s throats.”
At this point, Siegfried accused Hinojosa of “missing the point,” noting that it was “important to look back and to look at how we got to this administration.” Siegfried pointed out that “there are instances where conservatives have felt more and more slighted to point that they say, you know what, when you as a journalist speak, I’m not going to listen to you because I think you’re lying.”
He cited the media’s portrayal of Mitt Romney as a sexist because of his “binders full of women” comment as an example; arguing that the media’s overreaction to Romney’s comment led conservatives to dismiss hysterical criticism of conservatives, valid or not, as “crying wolf.”
Boehlert proceeded to basically dismiss Siegfried’s argument, stressing that journalists have an obligation to save America from President Trump: “that’s an interesting example and we can have a discussion on whether that was played the right way. We are so far beyond that now. Trump is a pathological, mentally unstable person and that’s what journalists should be saying every day.”
Hinojosa agreed, saying “we cannot just sit back and let (Trump’s lying) be some kind of normality.” As Siegfried highlighted that “69 percent of Americans in the past ten years have said they no longer trust the media,” Capehart cut him off; citing time constraints.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Sunday’s edition of AM Joy is below. Click “expand” to read more.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: The President who popularized the term fake news now has a new favorite word when it comes to the media and that’s decorum. But it’s sounding like what Trump really wants is obedience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: People have to behave. We’re setting up a certain standard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Those remarks came after a judge ordered the White House to reinstate the press pass for CNN’s Jim Acosta, who Trump scuffled with at a press conference following the midterm elections, a loss that Trump is still brooding over, tweeting this week “while CNN doesn’t do great in the United States based on ratings, outside of the U.S they have very little competition. Throughout the world, CNN has a powerful voice, portraying the United States in an unfair and false way. Something has to be done, including the possibility of the United States starting our own Worldwide Network to show the World the way we really are, GREAT!” Joining me now is Republican Strategist Evan Siegfried, author and media analyst Eric Boehlert, and Maria Hinojosa, host of “In the Thick” and NPR’s “Latino USA.” You know, that “great” made me think of, you know, the invitation in “Bridesmaids,” you know, RSVP s’il vous plais, yay! Anyway, I…can we just…I just want to talk about this idea of the government starting its own or at least President Trump starting his own worldwide network, I think, yeah, President Trump on Monday tweeted “Trump suggested that the government start its own television network as he voiced frustrations with the way CNN in particular has covered the administration. This is an idea widely exercised by dictators around the world to exercise thought control.” That’s from the Democratic Coalition. I mean, that, there’s nothing that’s false about that comment.
MARIA HINOJOSA: But it’s not government, this is Trump television sponsored by the government, by your tax dollars. I mean that’s really what we’re talking about here. There is, we have the VOA. Of course, we already know…
CAPEHART: The Voice of America.
HINOJOSA: The government supports the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that supports public media which is independent, although often times kind of bends over backward to show that they’re not too Progressive precisely because they don’t want to be caught on that charge. And I don’t, I don’t work for NPR, I don’t work for PBS. I represent myself here. But I think for me, the real question is how are we as journalists talking responding to this? And we’ve been talking about this since Trump came in. We’re being had. American journalists, our colleagues are being taken for a ride and we’re watching as it’s happening. And this is another…this Trump TV. It’s never going to happen. It’s completely ridiculous. It’s a completely, you know, it’s distraction all over the place and yet here we are talking about it. So in many ways we are being had and I think American journalists are smarter than this and we have to have a national transparent conversation about what we really need to be doing in terms of responding to this.
SIEGFRIED: The President does have some control through the administration over Voice of America and I wouldn’t be surprised if he wants to change up things there and ask for somebody who might be more willing to export the MAGA mindset because he views it as a competition between himself and CNN. He has CNN envy, I don’t understand it. But CNN International does a good job but there are plenty of other international stations out that are not owned by a U.S. company that are going out and doing hard news; BBC World for example. There are plenty of other ones doing that and I think that the President saying this shows a complete lack of understanding of the values of America itself. We value an independent and free press. The press can be gnats and annoying but we still stand up for them. He didn’t stand up for Khashoggi and he’s not standing up here and saying, you know what, I don’t like what CNN International is putting out but I’m glad they’re doing it.
CAPEHART: But can we just, Eric, be clear here? The President isn’t upset about the portrayal of the United States in the media…
ERIC BOEHLERT: No.
CAPEHART: …he’s upset about the portrayal of him…
CAPEHART: …in the media. That’s what’s driving all of this.
BOEHLERT: Right, so it was very interesting though that this week, he decided that well, hey, I need a larger instrument. I need something…something isn’t working. The Cohen story this week was a disaster. Right? The Russia stories, many this week, were a disaster. And there’s this, I think there’s this mythology of where Trump and the White House and conservatives that, you know, if we have Fox News, if we have the conservative media, we will be fine. We can live in this alternate universe where we have our own facts. But I think the Cohen story this week showed that’s not true and I think the Cohen story was just a taste of what Mueller is going to deliver with the final report and indictment and Fox was completely impotent this week in trying to debunk, you know, the Russia stories, try to change the narrative. They’re good at smearing people, they’re good at pushing hate and conspiracies. When it gets into a legal forum with Mueller, and prosecutors and confessions and plea agreements, conservative media can’t do anything and they’re not going to be able to do anything. So I think he might be looking ahead and saying, wait a minute, when Mueller delivers the goods, this isn’t working. I need something else because I’m…this is an awful week for me.
SIEGFRIED: I do want to point out though that Judge Napolitano at Fox was very good at pointing out what was happening.
BOEHLERT: Right, one or two.
SIEGFRIED: And he presented the facts.
SIEGFRIED: But also you’re seeing at least on the conservative social media right now, this push of, well look, Michael Cohen, what he said, it was clearly no collusion. The goal posts keep getting moved.
SIEGFRIED: And I think that they’re saying, clearly Mueller, he would have delivered the goods if he had it right now. That’s a fundamental misunderstanding or a willful…
SIEGFRIED: …misdirection of what trials and cases are about.
HINOJOSA: We’re talking about American media right now. We’re talking about the responsibility of our colleagues and how we’re telling the story and I think we need to have a conversation about the fact that all of us right now are susceptible to government propaganda. It’s not a term that we as American journalists like to use.
It is not enough in this moment for us to say we’re just going to, we’re just going to do our jobs and just report this. It’s simply not enough. And sadly, and I…it hurts to say this, but as journalists of color, we are reporting…we are watching the canaries in the mine as they are falling, as the children are being shot at with tear gas, etc. So we are seeing that as journalists of color, and we’re saying, look, this is a particularly important issue and people are saying, calm down. It’s all normal. It’s okay. It’s just another presidency.
CAPEHART: Right. Or don’t worry about it, you’re being hyperbolic.
CAPEHART: I got that during the campaign when I said, we have got a guy running for President who just said Mexicans are rapists. This is not, this is not normal. You were bringing up, Eric, about, you know, state media, state-run television. Well don’t we kind of have that with Sinclair Media? And I want to, I want to show just a little bit of clip…a clip from Bottom Line with Boris Epstheyn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS EPSTHEYN: There are many on the left who believe it is wrong to defend our country. The notion that a caravan of migrants can be allowed to break through our borders is ludicrous and dangerous. The United States of America should not and cannot be intimidated by those willing to use force to get into our country illegally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: And then after that Sinclair Media tweeted out an apology on Wednesday: “We’d like to a moment and address some concerns regarding a commentary by Boris Epstheyn that was aired on Sinclair stations this week. The opinion expressed in this segment do not reflect the views of Sinclair Broadcast Group.”
SIEGFRIED: Right but they said it was a must run segment for all networks.
BOEHLERT: So they forced all these stations to run them. This is horrific commentary supporting the tear gassing of women and children. This was kind of an unprompted apology. We don’t know what was happening behind the scenes. One of the problems for Sinclair is as they get larger and larger, they’re going into Democratic, blue, liberal markets. They’re in Washington, D.C now, they’re in Minneapolis, they’re in Providence. Democrats who watch this aren’t going to just sit there and this is just garbage, right? This isn’t going to play in blue states. So I don’t know if that’s what prompted it. I’m sure journalists who work at Sinclair, we’ve read over and over, they are beside themselves. This is not what they got into local business for to sit there and watch these parroting alt-right, white nationalist racism. So Sinclair, I think, is also discovering its limitations these days.
SIEGFRIED: I think that we’ve seen a change in the past 12 years. In 2006, there was a story done in a local Florida news outlet which highlighted Bill Nelson, who was up for re-election against Katherine Harris and their positions on a woman’s right to choose and the reporter ended the commentary by saying “if you like abortions, then Bill Nelson’s your guy.” The station fired him promptly because he blurred the line between opinion and fact and we now have seen where there are more and more reporters on both sides of the aisle, at least from my perspective as a conservative, who either inadvertently or willfully will blur the lines; we’ll see liberal journalists do it and conservatives do it. And that’s a disservice to journalism overall. Further, we are missing somebody like Walter Cronkite who is the trusted voice that can give us that, “here’s the facts” and we know you’re not putting spin on it.
CAPEHART: Okay, Evan, I understand what you’re saying about willful blurring of the lines, but we’ve gotten to the point in this country and in this Presidency where you have journalists who live and die by the notion that they have to be objective. I’m talking, not about opinion journalists like me but news side journalists out there who are covering this President where they are, the President puts them in the position of having to not editorialize or blur the lines, but to say the President has lied, that the President is telling falsehoods or whatever the synonym that they want to, that they want to throw in. I mean, is that blurring of the lines or is that journalistic responsibility?
SIEGFRIED: No that’s not blurring the lines, when they’re actually saying facts. We combat falsehoods with facts and I think that’s a very important thing.
CAPEHART: But there are a lot of conservatives out there who say that saying, telling the facts is blurring the lines.
HINOJOSA: You guys, we have a President…come on. We have an administration that every single day has Sarah Sanders out there spewing lies, making things up, putting…
SIEGFRIED: The administration lies because it…The big problem is how we got here.
HINOJOSA: Yes, but the point is is that as journalists…
SIEGFRIED: …And if I could explain that…
HINOJOSA: …do we not have a responsibility not to just…all we can do is report. As you’re saying, all we can do is report and to tell both sides. There is a responsibility that is long standing of American journalists beyond just the reporting.
SIEGFRIED: Yes, there is a responsibility…
HINOJOSA: And so what do we do. And this is the conversation and it gets heated because we’re passionate because what do we do when we have an administration that is lying to us on a daily point and putting propaganda down people’s throats?
SIEGFRIED: I think you’re missing the point here though. It’s important to look back and to look at how we got to this administration. Donald Trump lies and it’s absolutely offensive, and journalists should hold him accountable. That’s what the fourth estate is for. But there are instances where conservatives have felt more and more slighted to point that they say, you know what, when you as a journalist speak, I’m not going to listen to you because I think you’re lying. One example is that with Mitt Romney and the binders full of women. That was not an offensive, sexist, anti-woman comment. That was a factual statement of yes, we have binders full of women. And while it was innocuous but built up as him being that, when you hear…it’s more crying wolf. You hear more and more on that. So when it’s important and you actually have to hold the administration accountable for vicious and horrible lies.
CAPEHART: There’s crying wolf and they’re like, the wolf is out the door, picking through the windows at this point.
HINOJOSA: Exactly! Exactly.
CAPEHART: I mean, binders full of women is such a…
SIEGFRIED: Yes but that’s just one...
BOEHLERT: The conservatives complain about the so-called liberal media, which goes back to Spiro Agnew and decades and they’ve spent tens of millions of dollars pushing that narrative, none of it matters anymore. I mean, that’s an interesting example and we can have a discussion on whether that was played the right way. We are so far beyond that now. Trump is a pathological, mentally unstable person and that’s what journalists should be saying every day.
HINOJOSA: And then he lies every…I mean…
BOEHLERT: Drop the euphemisms.
HINOJOSA: Exactly and we need to know that because…because frankly we have the history of our country in our hands and to consistently clarify, this is a lie, it is a lie, today he is lying. We have to say that. We cannot just sit back and let this be some kind of normality. It is not.
SIEGFRIED: But the problem is 69 percent of Americans in the past ten years have said they no longer trust the media and after the pipe bombs…
CAPEHART: Evan…Evan, got to go. Sorry to cut you off at pipe bombs.
HINOJOSA: I was going to get the last word, not you.
CAPEHART: We have already gone over. Evan Siegfried, Eric Boehlert, and Maria Hinojosa, thank you very much for being here.