PRESIDENT VS PRESS

November 09, 2018 at 5:15 am

The tense relationship between the press and President Trump has hit a new low. Tonight we analyze the situation. What does the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions mean for the future of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation? We have the latest from the West Wing.

Aired on November 8, 2018.

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>> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO
"METROFOCUS," I'M RAFAEL PI
ROMAN.
IT'S THE PRESIDENT VERSUS THE
PRESS.
THE TENSIONS BETWEEN THE WHITE
HOUSE AND THE MEDIA ESCALATED TO
NEW LEVELS THIS WEEK.
ON WEDNESDAY, THE WHITE HOUSE
STRIPPED CNN CORRESPONDENT JIM
ACOSTA OF PRESS CREDENTIALS
AFTER A HEATED CONVERSATION
BETWEEN THE JOURNALIST AND THE
PRESIDENT THE ACOSTA HAD ASKED
TRUMP ABOUT THE CARAVAN OF
IMMIGRANTS HEADING FROM LATIN
AMERICA TO THE U.S. BORDER
PROMPTING THIS EXCHANGE.
>> YOUR CAMPAIGN HAD AN AD
SHOWING MIGRANTS CLIMBING OVER
WALLS.
>> THAT'S TRUE.
THEY WEREN'T ACTORS.
IT'S TRUE, DO YOU THINK THEY
WERE ACTORS, THEY WEREN'T
ACTORS, THEY DIDN'T COME FROM
HOLLYWOOD.
THESE WERE PEOPLE, THIS WAS AN
ACTUAL, YOU KNOW, IT HAPPENED A
FEW DAYS AGO.
>> THEY ARE HUNDREDS OF MILES
AWAY.
THAT'S NOT AN INVASION.
>> HONESTLY, I THINK YOU SHOULD
LET ME RUN THE COUNTRY, YOU RUN
CNN.
AND IF YOU DID IT WELL, YOUR
RATINGS WOULD BE MUCH BETTER.
>> IF I MAY ASK ONE OTHER
QUESTION.
>> THAT'S ENOUGH, THAT'S ENOUGH.
>> I WAS GOING TO ASK ONE
OTHER -- PARDON ME, MA'AM.
>> I HAVE ONE OTHER QUESTION IF
I MAY ASK ON THE RUSSIA
INVESTIGATION.
ARE YOU CONCERNED THAT YOU MAY
HAVE INDICTMENTS --
>> I'M NOT CONCERNED ABOUT
ANYTHING BECAUSE IT'S A HOAX.
THAT'S ENOUGH, PUT DOWN THE MIC.
>> SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS
RELEASED A STATEMENT JUFG THE
DECISION TO STRIP ACOSTA OF HIS
CREDENTIALS, ACCUSING HIM OF
PLACING HIS HANDS ON A YOUNG
WOMAN TRYING TO DO HER JOB AS A
WHITE HOUSE INTEN.
VIDEO PLAYED OVER AND OVER
SHOWED THAT THE INTERACTION
BETWEEN ACOSTA AND THE INTERN
WAS BRIEF AND ACOSTA APPEARED TO
BRUSH HER ARM AS SHE REACHED FOR
THE MICROPHONE, AND HE TRIED TO
HOLD ON TO IT.
THAT NIGHT, ACOSTA POSTED A
GRAINY VIDEO ON TWITTER SHOWING
A SECRET SERVICE AGENT AT THE
WHITE HOUSE ASKING HIM TO
SURRENDER HIS PASS WHICH GRANTS
JOURNALISTS ACCESS TO THE
COMPOUND.
IN A STATEMENT, CNN CLAIMED THAT
THE WHITE HOUSE REVOKED ACOSTA'S
PASS OUT OF RETALIATION FOR HIS
CHALLENGING QUESTIONS AT THE
PRESS CONFERENCE AND ACCUSATION
THE WHITE HOUSE STRONGLY DENIED.
THE NEWS CONFERENCE AND THE
REMOVAL OF ACOSTA'S PRESS PASS
MARKED A NEW LOW IN THE FRAUGHT
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PRESIDENT
TRUMP AND THE MEDIA, WHICH THE
PRESIDENT HAS FREQUENTLY
REFERRED TO AS QUOTE THE ENEMY
OF THE PEOPLE.
THE BATTLE HAS ALSO INFLAMED THE
STARK PARTISAN DIVISIONS
AFFLICTING THE COUNTRY, A DIVIDE
NOT SEEN SINCE PERHAPS THE
DARKEST DAY OF THE WATERGATE
SCANDAL.
AND JOINING US NOW TO TALK ABOUT
IT ALL IS CNN PRESIDENTIAL
HISTORIAN, TIM NEFTALI, A
COAUTHOR OF THE NEW BOOK,
IMPEACHMENT, AN AMERICAN
HISTORY.
HE WAS ALSO THE FOUNDING
DIRECTOR OF THE RICHARD NIXON
PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY WHERE HE
OVERSAW THE LIBRARY'S ACCLAIMED
EXHIBIT ON WATERGATE.
SO ACOSTA BEING STRIPPED OF HIS
WHITE HOUSE PRESS PASS, IS THERE
A PRECEDENT FOR THAT?
HAS THAT EVER HAPPENED BEFORE?
>> WE HAVE HAD INCIDENTS WHERE
PRESIDENTS HAVE WANTED TO BAN
NEWSPAPERS.
JOHN F. KENNEDY AT ONE POINT
WANTED TO STOP READING.
HE DIDN'T WANT THE WHITE HOUSE
TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE NEW YORK
HERALD TRIBUNE, BUT HE DIDN'T
THROW THE HERALD TRIBUNE'S
CORRESPONDENT OUT OF THE PRESS
CORPS.
SIMILARLY, RICHARD NIXON, HATED
"THE WASHINGTON POST," DIDN'T
WANT TO HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH
THEM, BUT HE DIDN'T THROW THEM
OUT OF THE PRESS CORPS.
SO THIS IS UNPRECEDENTED BY THE
PRESIDENT AND YOU KNOW WHAT'S
DISMAYING IS THAT YESTERDAY WAS
AN OPPORTUNITY FOR PRESIDENT
TRUMP TO ESTABLISH A NEW
CLIMATE.
THERE WILL BE A REBALANCING OF
POWER IN WASHINGTON IN JANUARY.
HE WILL HAVE TO DEAL WITH
DEMOCRATIC CHAIRS, CHAIRS OF
COMMITTEES IN THE HOUSE.
AND AS PART OF HIS
CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY AS
PRESIDENT, HE HAS TO INTERACT
WITH THEM.
THIS WAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO SET A
NEW TONE.
THE WAY IN WHICH HE DEALT WITH
THE PRESS, NOT JUST JIM ACOSTA
WHO'S A PROFESSIONAL AND A
COLLEAGUE, BUT THE WAY HE DEALT
WITH THE ENTIRE PRESS CORPS
SHOWED THAT HE HAS NO INTEREST
IN ALTERING THE LEVEL OF
CONTEMPT, REDUCING IT.
>> BUT, YOU KNOW, AS PEOPLE AND
I'LL TALK ABOUT THIS, BECAUSE
I'VE SEEN CRITICISM FROM BOTH
SIDES ALL OVER THE PLACE, BUT
PEOPLE SAY, DOESN'T IT CUT BOTH
WAYS.
YOU LOOK AT THE PRESS CONFERENCE
AND YOU LOOK AT SOME OF THE
QUESTIONS AND THE WAY THEY WERE
PHRASED, IT'S QUESTIONS AND THE
WAY THEY ARE PHRASED THAT YOU
HAD NEVER SEEN BEFORE AS WELL.
>> WELL, I DON'T THINK THE
PRESIDENT CAN HAVE IT BOTH WAYS.
THE PRESIDENT HAS DECIDED TO
ALTER THE NATURE OF THE DECORUM
THAT USUALLY ADHERES TO THE
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT.
YESTERDAY IT WAS REALLY --
>> HE SETS THE TONE.
>> LET ME PUT IT TO YOU THIS
WAY.
DURING THE PRESS CONFERENCE, HE
MADE A MOST CYNICAL STATEMENT.
HE SAID, YOU KNOW, THIS IS
EARNED MEDIA.
HE WAS ASKED WOULD YOU HAVE
ANOTHER PRESS CONFERENCE, WE
HAVEN'T HEARD FROM YOU, SIR N A
LONG TIME.
HE SAID, YEAH, THIS IS EARNED
MEDIA, IT'S WORTH BILLIONS.
THE POINT WAS HE'S SAYING I'M
USING THE PRESS AS A BACKDROP SO
THAT I CAN GET MY MESSAGE OUT.
AND IF HIS MESSAGE INCLUDES HALF
TRUTHS OR LIES, IT IS THE
OBLIGATION OF THE FIFTH ESTATE,
IT'S THE OBLIGATION OF THE PRESS
TO CALL HIM ON IT.
OTHERWISE THEY ARE PROPS.
THEY ARE STANDING THERE
LISTENING TO HIM.
SO IF THE PRESIDENT IS NOT GOING
TO TREAT THE OFFICE OF THE
PRESIDENCY WITH THE DUE RESPECT
THAT IT SHOULD HAVE, I'M NOT
SUGGESTING THAT OTHERS SHOULDN'T
TREAT HIM WITH RESPECT, BUT HE
SHOULD UNDERSTAND THE
AGGRESSIVENESS WITH WHICH
MEMBERS OF THE PRESS ARE
RESPONDING TO HIS LIES AND HALF
TRUTHS, I MEAN, AFTER ALL, THE
CARAVAN STORY WAS SOMETHING THAT
ONE WOULD EXPECT FROM A
DEMAGOGUE.
THESE PEOPLE ARE A THOUSAND
MILES AWAY FROM THE U.S. BORDER.
THE PRESIDENT PUTS 15,000 U.S.
TROOPS OR AT LEAST SAYS HE'S
GOING TO PUT 15,000 TROOPS ON
THE BORDER TO STOP A GROUP OF
PEOPLE WHO BY THE TIME THEY
REACH THE BORDER, THEY'RE NOT
GOING TO BE ONE CARAVAN.
THAT'S NOT THE WAY IT'S WORKED
IN THE PAST.
HE NEVER TOLD THE AMERICAN
PEOPLE THE NATURE OF THE
CHALLENGE.
>> AND THAT'S WHAT JIM ACOSTA
WAS ASKING HIM ABOUT.
>> IT'S NOT RIGHT THAT OUR
PRESIDENT IS NOT WILLING TO
LEVEL WITH US ABOUT WHAT'S
ACTUALLY GOING ON, SO THE
CHALLENGE, I THINK, FOR THE
PRESS AND I'M NOT SPEAKING AND
I'M NOT A JOURNALIST, BUT AS I
SAID I RESPECT MY COLLEAGUES,
THE CHALLENGE IS WHAT ARE YOU
SUPPOSED TO DO?
ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO LISTEN, NOD
YOUR HEAD AS IF YOU WERE
LISTENING TO DWIGHT EISENHOWER
WHEN IN FACT YOU'RE GETTING A
SERIES NOT OF SPIN, IT'S NOT
JUST SPIN.
SPIN'S OKAY.
THERE'S ALWAYS SPIN.
BUT YOU'RE GETTING A SERIES OF
HALF TRUTHS, MISTRUTHS FANTASIES
AND LIES.
ISN'T IT UP TO THE PRESS TO
STAND UP AND DO WHAT THE
AMERICAN PEOPLE CAN'T DO FOR
THEMSELVES BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT
IN THE ROOM TO SAY MR.
PRESIDENT, I HAVE A FOLLOW UP.
MR. PRESIDENT, AND THAT'S WHAT
THEY'RE DOING.
AND THE PROBLEM IS THAT IN
RESPONSE THE PRESIDENT GETS
HEATED AND HE LOSES HIS COOL.
>> BUT, YOU KNOW, FOR ALL THE
AMERICANS THAT LOOKED AT THAT
EXCHANGE, AND DON'T GIVE AS DEEP
A REFLECTION AS YOU JUST DID,
YOU KNOW, WE BOOKED YOU HERE
ACTUALLY BEFORE THIS EVER
HAPPENED BECAUSE WE WANTED YOU
TO TALK ABOUT THE DIVIDE OF THE
COUNTRY.
AND IT JUST HIT ME THIS MORNING
HOW MUCH THAT LITTLE VIGNETTE
KIND OF MANIFESTS THAT DIVISION.
I GOT ABOUT 5,000 FOLLOWERS ON
FACEBOOK AND ACROSS THE
POLITICAL SPECTRUM.
AND YOU SEE HALF OF THEM SAYING
THE PRESIDENT IS HITLER, HE'S
FIDEL CASTRO, IS HUGO CHAVEZ,
THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF A
FREE PRESS.
ON THE OTHER SIDE YOU SEE ACOSTA
IS A FAKE REPORTER, YOU KNOW,
HE'S A BA FOON, YOU KNOW, EVERY
NAME IN THE BOOK.
AMERICANS SEEING THE SAME
INCIDENT SO STARKLY DIFFERENT.
WHAT ARE THE POSSIBILITIES OF A
REUNIFICATION OF THESE
AMERICANS?
>> FIRST OF ALL, IT'S HARD.
THIS IS A VERY HORMONAL TIME,
ACTUALLY IN AMERICA, IT'S A VERY
EMOTIONAL TIME IN OUR HISTORY,
AND WE ARE EXTREMELY TRIBAL.
I'M NOT THE ONLY PERSON SAYING
THAT.
MOST PEOPLE WHO OBSERVE OUR
POLITICAL SCENE ARE SAYING THAT.
>> ALWAYS HAVE BEEN?
>> WE HAVE PEAKS AND VALLEYS OF
TRIBALISM, BUT HERE'S THE STORY
THAT, HERE'S WHAT WE SHOULD BE
TALKING TO OURSELVES ABOUT.
WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION NOT TO
BREAK THE COUNTRY THAT OUR P
PREDECESSO
PREDECESSORS GAVE US.
WE ARE ON THIS EARTH FOR A
CERTAIN PERIOD OF TIME AND WE AS
AMERICANS ARE PART OF THE
AMERICAN STORY.
WE HAVE INHERITED GREAT
INSTITUTIONS, PHENOMENAL
CONSTITUTION, AND WE NEED TO
TAKE CARE OF OUR COUNTRY.
OUR CONSTITUTION WANTS US TO
COMPETE.
IT'S HEALTHY.
THAT'S WHY THE SEPARATION OF
POWERS.
BUT NOT AT EACH OTHER EAT
THROATS.
WE JUST HAD A MIDTERM ELECTION
WHERE THERE'S BEEN A REBALANCING
OF POWER.
THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAVE SAID
VERY CLEARLY THAT THEY DON'T
WANT ONE PARTY, THE PRESIDENT'S
PARTY TO RUN EVERY BRANCH OF
GOVERNMENT.
THAT'S VERY NORMAL.
THAT HAPPENS.
WHEN THE PRESIDENT AND HIS PARTY
GET OUT OF SYNC WITH MOST
AMERICANS, THERE'S A
REBALANCING.
THAT'S HEALTHY.
THE CLIMATE OF PROFESSIONAL
POLITICIANS SHOULD REFLECT AN
UNDERSTANDING THAT OUR
CONSTITUTION WANTED THIS TO
HAPPEN, AND RATHER THAN GET
ANGRY WHICH WAS SO CLEAR FROM
THE PRESIDENT'S BEHAVIOR, RATHER
THAN GET ANGRY, HE SHOULD ACCEPT
IT THE WAY BARACK OBAMA ACCEPTED
IT, THE WAY THAT GEORGE W. BUSH
ACCEPTED IT, THE WAY THAT RONALD
REAGAN ACCEPTED A REVERSE IN HIS
FIRST MIDTERM ELECTION.
WHY CAN'T DONALD TRUMP SHOW THE
SELF-DISCIPLINE AND THE DIGNITY
THAT PREVIOUS PRESIDENTS,
DEMOCRATIC AND REPUBLICAN, HAVE
DONE AND SHOWN WHEN FACED WITH
AN ELECTORAL REVERSE.
THAT'S THE CHALLENGE, BUT I'M
SAYING THE HEAD OF STATE OF OUR
COUNTRY CAN HELP SET THE TONE.
THE HEAD OF STATE IS NOT SETTING
A TONE OF UNITIMY, AND THAT'S WT
WE NEED.
>> AMERICANS USUALLY LIKE
DIVIDED GOVERNMENT, APPARENTLY,
IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME AS YOU
SAID, AND THE MARKET CERTAINLY
DOES, AS REFLECTED BY THE STOCK
MARKET YESTERDAY.
BUT WHAT IS THIS DIVIDED
GOVERNMENT GOING TO LOOK LIKE?
BECAUSE AS YOU KNOW, THE
DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS OR THE
LEADERS OF THE NEW COMMITTEES,
THEY'RE OUT TO GET THE
PRESIDENT, RIGHT?
AND IF THEY DO --
>> I DON'T AGREE WITH THAT.
>> THAT'S WHAT SOME OF THEM ARE
SAYING.
SOME OF THEM WHO ARE GOING TO BE
TAKING OVER COMMITTEES ARE
SAYING -- BUT MY QUESTION IS IF
YOU CAN ALLOW ME, YOU ARE THE
EXPERT ON WATERGATE, I WONDER
IF, I'M SORRY, ON IMPEACHMENT,
YOU JUST WROTE THE BOOK ON
IMPEACHMENT, ARE WE GOING TO SEE
THAT PLAY OUT FOR THE NEXT
COUPLE OF YEARS?
>> IT WOULD BE A HUGE MISTAKE
FOR THE HOUSE TO UNDERTAKE
IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY RIGHT NOW
BASED ON WHAT WE KNOW.
AN IMPEACHMENT, THE STANDARD OF
HIGH CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS.
IT WAS VERY HIGH.
SET BY THE REDINO COMMITTEE
WHERE A BIPARTISAN GROUP,
REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS
DECIDED THAT RICHARD NIXON
SHOULD BE IMPEACHED AND THEY
DECIDED THAT HIGH CRIME AND
MISDEMEANOR IS A CRIME, IT'S A
CHALLENGE TO OUR CONSTITUTIONAL
ORDER.
ALLOWING THE PRESIDENT TO STAY
IN OFFICE WOULD UNDERMINE OUR
REPUBLIC.
YOU DON'T MAKE THAT DECISION IF
YOU ARE CONVINCED THAT THE --
BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, IMPEACHMENT
IS A TRAUMA, AND UNLESS THERE'S
A CONSENSUS THAT CONTINUING A
PRESIDENT IN OFFICE IS MORE
IN
INJURIOUS TO THE COUNTRY THAN
THE TRAUMA OF IMPEACHMENT, HE
STAYS AND FINISHES HIS TERM.
WE DON'T HAVE THE DATA.
MAYBE THE MUELLER INVESTIGATION
WILL BRING FORWARD EVIDENCE OF
BRIBERY OR TREASON OR WHAT HAVE
YOU.
>> WE ONLY HAVE 30 SECONDS AND I
WANT TO GET INTO ANOTHER.
>> I JUST WANT TO SAY THAT THE
MEMBERS OF CONGRESS IF THEY LOOK
AT HISTORY WILL KNOW THAT YOU
CAN UNDERTAKE OVERSIGHT WITHOUT
ENGAGING IN AN IMPEACHMENT
INQUIRY.
>> WE HAVE ABOUT 30 SECONDS AND
I HAVE TO ASK YOU THIS, HE FIRED
JEFF SESSIONS, THERE ARE PEOPLE
SAYING THAT THERE IS PARAMOUNT
TO WATERGATE WHEN PRESIDENT
NIXON, THE SATURDAY NIGHT
MASSACRE WHEN HE FIRED ARCHIBAL
COX AND HIS OWN PEOPLE.
IS THERE A PARALLEL?
>> THERE WILL BE A PARALLEL IF
THE PRESIDENT ATTEMPTS TO STRIKE
DOWN THE MUELLER INVESTIGATION.
THAT'S A DIRECT PARALLEL.
RIGHT NOW, THE FIRING OF
SESSIONS LOOKS LIKE AN OMINOUS
SIGN BUT THE SATURDAY NIGHT
MASSACRE IS ALL ABOUT GETTING TO
ARCHIBALD COX AND SHUTTING DOWN
THE WATERGATE PROSECUTION.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL AND DEPUTY
ATTORNEY GENERAL, ONE RESIGNS,
THE OTHER IS REMOVED BECAUSE
THEY WON'T DO IT.
THE PARALLEL IS IF PRESIDENT
TRUMP SEEKS TO SHUT DOWN THE
MUELLER INVESTIGATION, THEN WE
HAVE A NEW SATURDAY NIGHT
MASSACRE.
>> OKAY.
TIM T THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR
JOINING US TODAY.
>> THANK YOU.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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