During Tuesday’s Cuomo Prime Time, host Chris Cuomo brought on CNN political commentators Angela Rye and Andre Bauer to debate the Covington kids controversy. It didn't take long for things to veer off course to a debate over Make America Great Again hats, which Rye described as “just as maddening and frustrating and triggering for me to look at as a KKK hood.”
Cuomo prefaced things by describing the situation as a “tough spot for all involved” and complaining that “the President used the situation to his advantage, however, tweeting ‘Nick Sandmann and the students of Covington have become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be.’”
Shortly after Cuomo expressed his disgust that “the President chose to take sides, to divide,” Rye declared war on Make America Great Again hats because they represent “the man who announced his campaign as, you know, with Mexicans being drug dealers and rapists and let’s build this wall.”
Rye later echoed Cuomo’s talking points about President Trump choosing to “take sides,” arguing that instead of “using this platform as Commander-in-Chief to bring people together, to figure out how to end some of this, this rhetoric, some of these challenges, some of the greatest conflict of our time, he’s again choosing sides and doubling down on some of....again, the most hateful rhetoric, bigotry, xenophobia that we’ve seen in years.”
She did not, however, elaborate on how running to the defense of teens falsely accused of racism constituted a “doubling down” on “the most hateful rhetoric, bigotry, xenophobia that we’ve seen in years.”
Shortly after Cuomo talked about how he had “never seen a man in elected office, let alone the presidency, dissemble, divide, misstate, and lie as often as this President has,” Rye seemed to agree with actress Alyssa Milano’s assertion that “the red MAGA hat is the new white hood.”
Rye then claimed that seeing MAGA hats is triggering:
When I see the Make America Great Again hat now, Chris, I am triggered. I am so triggered...This Make America Great Again hat is just as maddening and frustrating and triggering for me to look at as a KKK hood. Like, that is the type of hatred that his policies represent....[U]ntil we can have common ground and understanding about that, that it’s that triggering, we’re going to continue to have problems.
Rye’s comments came just minutes before Cuomo himself expressed his disapproval of the Covington kids wearing MAGA hats while describing them as “the victims of their own choices,” as opposed to the victims of an orchestrated smear campaign by media figures “desperate to get Trump out of office.”
A transcript of the relevant portion of Tuesday’sCuomo Prime Time is below. Click “expand” to read more.
Cuomo Prime Time
CHRIS CUOMO: So the kid at the center of the MAGA hat controversy has spoken.
NICK SANDMANN: As far as standing there, I had every right to do so. In hindsight, I wish we could have walked away.
CUOMO: A tough spot for all involved. The President used the situation however to his advantage tweeting, “Nick Sandmann and the students of Covington have become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be.” The President chose to take sides, to divide. The question for him is why. And the bigger question is what needs to happen here. Let’s debate. Angela Rye and Andre Bauer, it’s good to have you on the show, Andre, first time. Angela, always a pleasure.
ANDRE BAUER: Thanks Chris.
ANGELA RYE: Thank you.
CUOMO: …how do you see what matters here?
RYE: Well, there are a number of sides to every story. People say there are two sides and then there is the truth. And I think that this is so much deeper than that. We’re of course just on the other side of celebrating Dr. King’s holiday and it’s so unfortunate that in 2019, this country couldn’t be more divided. I have to tell you that there are a number of us, that when we see what happened, some deem it as an altercation; some deem it as a standoff. I see this hat right, Chris, and this hat represents so much more to me than just a symbol of free speech to the wearer. This is a hat that represents the man who announced his campaign as, you know, with Mexicans being drug dealers and rapists and let’s build this wall. This is a man whose hat represents the same person who said he would pay the legal fees of someone who punched a black protester in the face at one of his rallies. Someone who has trafficked in racism, I would say is racist and definitely spews racist rhetoric. It is hard to divorce his policies, the rhetoric, the propaganda, his supporters from these actions and unfortunately, these young men who perhaps one day will, will regret their actions, it sounds like the main one who was standing right in, in the face of the Native American leader, is already regretting some of those actions and unfortunately it represents so much of what we’ve seen not just in 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, but what we have seen in this country from its founding.
BAUER: Well, Chris, like any story depending on who is narrating it depends on whose side you would take. I will say as, as a different perspective, Nathan Phillips, I think probably diffused this situation, which could have gotten to a much more difficult situation where it could have been a physical altercation. I don’t understand why the parents or the teachers didn’t remove these students immediately. Had I been there and those had been my children, I would have immediately removed them from what I think was a hostile situation that could have escalated quite quickly and after looking at the tape to me, seems like, well, Nathan Phillips may have gotten a little too close to the children and the children should have backed off as well. At the end of the day, he did get between the two of them and I actually think that could have very well saved what would have been a much bigger and unfortunate situation.
CUOMO: Yeah, by all accounts, people were going after Phillips and saying he changed his story. Whatever…what he perceived in terms of what this could mean for him, you have to separate from what actions he took. And yes, he walked up to the kids. I agree with what you’re saying there by most accounts, Andre, they were trying to diffuse. And look, there was no violence, thank God. There was not anything more ugly than what we get to see in this video. So take that as a win in a, in an area of lots of losses. But Angela, then we have this. The President comes out and speaks on this. Not Steve King. Not Steve King; won’t say anything about Steve King’s message. Nothing, even on MLK weekend, nothing, but he does come out and say this, clearly takes a side, takes a shot at the media and something more. Do you think it’s just him defending his hat? What does this mean to you?
RYE: No. It’s so interesting, Chris, right? Like we think about the time when Barack Obama was criticized so heavily for the beer summit between the police officer and Henry Louis Gates who we know…
RYE: …is a legend and was in his own home, right? A beer summit, just to bring two sides together. And once again, this President is demonizing one side…and really not one side. He’s demonizing the media which of course, as we know, is his favorite enemy to pick on. And then also taking the side against this Native American. We have to remember what was actually happening at that time. And that was an Indigenous People’s March.
RYE: That has somehow been forgotten in all of this. He had every right to be there too. He had every right to stand his ground, I should probably pick another term we know what that means…
CUOMO: God forbid.
RYE: But at the end of the day, right? At the end of the day, it’s so interesting that instead of using this platform as Commander-in-Chief to bring people together, to figure out how to end some of this, this rhetoric, some of these challenges, some of the greatest conflict of our time, he’s again choosing sides and doubling down on some of…again, the most hateful rhetoric, bigotry, xenophobia that we’ve seen in years.
CUOMO: Why jump on this, Andre? Why try to bring these kids to the White House? The facts were unclear about whether they were invited; maybe after the shutdown, whatever it is. Why jump on this and ignore Steve King?
BAUER: Well, first off, Angela and I are good friends and I find myself usually on the other side but I agree with her. I think the President missed what would have been a better opportunity to take the high ground for both sides and say, look, you know, we need to come together on such a special occasion like Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday and so on a day, we should have in fact found the high ground for both sides. Not unfortunately, nothing happened but we need to be kinder to one another. And so I think…
CUOMO: Why didn’t he do that?
BAUER: …it was a missed opportunity.
CUOMO: Why does he never do that?
BAUER: But I think that he…
RYE: He doesn’t know how.
BAUER: I think the President continues to feel like, as so many Republicans do, the media overwhelmingly tends to favor the other side and he continues to feel like it’s a beat down every day in the media just as he was falsely accused just a few short days before that. And so I think, he felt much like these…he felt these young people have been treated…
CUOMO: Falsely accused of what?
BAUER: …unfortunately the same way. And I think he took their side.
CUOMO: What was he falsely accused of?
BAUER: He was falsely accused of talking, talking to the other side, the media immediately jumped on a untrue story and then every pundit out there immediately said oh well, immediately he needs to be impeached, when in fact we know that wasn’t…
CUOMO: Are you’re talking about the BuzzFeed story and that’s…
BAUER: Yeah, I think…
CUOMO: …was on the President’s mind. So when this happened, he decided to take a, you know, a situation as volatile as this and play to advantage because he was upset about the BuzzFeed story?
BAUER: Well…Chris, I think it’s a continual…
BAUER: …that he sees so much media coverage that’s not true and unfair towards him. And so when he sees this happen to other people, he understands…
BAUER: …what they’re dealing with, what immediately…
CUOMO: I hear your argument…
RYE: But how would he?
CUOMO: I hear the argument, it’s just so hard to accept Angela, because…
RYE: It’s extremely hard to accept.
CUOMO: I have never seen a man in elected office, let alone the presidency, dissemble, divide, misstate and lie as often as this President has. So, the idea that he’s offended by things that aren’t accurate is a little hard to believe.
RYE: Well and not only is it hard to believe, it’s hard to accept. I wish that for one moment, right, we can talk about what we see because people are talking about well, you know, what is happening right now as a result of what happened in this particular incident is our varying perspectives and I think that’s such a powerful point. Like forget Donald Trump for a moment, and just think about the symbol of that red hat. When I see the Make America Great Again hat now, Chris, I am triggered. I’m so triggered. Andre, I think in a lot of ways, our friendship has been compromised by the fact that you continue to support this man. The one thing I will say to you, to be absolutely fair, is more than anybody else that I know on this network, you will regularly take Donald Trump to task. I don’t agree with you on this last point, but this Make America Great Again hat is just as maddening and frustrating and triggering for me to look at as a KKK hood. Like that is the type of hatred…
BAUER: Well I would tell you this.
RYE: …that his policies represent. And until we can have common ground and understanding about that, that it’s that triggering, we’re going to continue to have problems.
CUOMO: Final word, Andre.
BAUER: Then, then…but I would just say you don’t let people run around in your head rent free. There are things that offend me but I don’t let them offend me. A lot of people take that red hat, to they…that they believe we elected an individual that was willing to take on everybody from Wall Street to the media to go in and drain the swamp…
RYE: To kids on the border.
BAUER: …and clean Washington out and put this country back on the path to where we believe America was first and to make it great again to where we looked after the people in this country first and foremost and there’s a lot of…
RYE: When was that?
BAUER: …unheard people…
RYE: When was that, Andre?
BAUER: …in America who felt like Donald Trump was…
RYE: When was it great, Andre?
CUOMO: Well, look that’s…
RYE: When was it great Andre?
BAUER: Well, I don’t believe that it’s not great now, but there have been days…
RYE: No, but when was it great again? Tell me the year.
CUOMO: You know the problem with this.
BAUER: That continues to get better…
CUOMO: Yeah, I know.
CUOMO: Andre is being smart because any time you go into…
BAUER: No, I’m not.
CUOMO: …our past, you would have to be identifying a period where we were not as free and equal as we are today and that’s the problem with something that inherently asks us to look back to an earlier time.
RYE: That’s exactly right.
CUOMO: To Angela’s point about being sensitive. Look, I was with you, when I first saw the hat, I was like it’s a slogan hat. That’s what they are. I understand differently now. I’m blessed with enough people…
CUOMO: …in my life who have different experience when it comes to what that hat means to them and how they feel they’re represented in that dynamic. I get it. It’s not just a hat. It shouldn’t be. And that’s why we got to know why the kids were wearing it there. But Andre, thank you for making the points, Angela, as always. Be well.
RYE: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right…
BAUER: Thank you Chris, see you.