Despite concerns about her credibility, CNN booked Pres. Donald Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway on Jake Tapper‘s The Lead this afternoon. And the 25-minute interview was epic.
Conway and Tapper started out by briefly talking about the nomination of Betsy DeVos to Secretary of Education post, as well as Trump’s controverial relationship with President Vladimir Putin.
“There are accusations that Trump and Putin are BFFs, that is not true,” said Conway. “He made very clear at the press conference with British PM Theresa May, and said that he doesn’t know him very well. If we can come together on big issues vexing the world, then he will join with other countries that wish to do that, including President Putin.”
Then, they got into the into the good stuff: Tapper brought up Pres. Trump’s consistent criticism of CNN, including Monday’s accusation that the media have under-covered global terror attacks.
“I spent two weeks in Paris in 2015 reporting on the attacks, and we had reporters on the ground not just in Paris, but in Nice, San Bernardino, and the bombings in Brussels, to name a few,” said Tapper. “Those were attacks that were on the list. CNN and other organizations cover terrorism all the time, so saying that we don’t cover terrorism is just false.”
“CNN did amazing coverage for weeks at a time,” Conway said in a conciliatory tone. “I saw you all there on the ground doing good reporting, and telling human interest stories and the tragic stories, particularly about the involvement of the terrorists. The brutal attacks get coverage, but other ones that we had on the list, not so much.”
“I think what he is saying is that we just can’t allow ourselves to be inured to terrorist attacks, and see them as the new normal. So if we’re not covering all of the many different attacks, that they’re all ISIL inspired attacks, in this case, the ones that he was referring to in the list that was generated, as I understand, Jake, then we don’t want — we want people to realize that then that’s what leads him to want extreme vetting from seven narrowly prescribed countries in a very temporary way.” said Conway.
“What he seems to be saying is that the media does not cover these stories because we don’t want to cover them because we have some sort of agenda,” said Tapper. “That’s offensive given the fact CNN and other media organizations have reports in danger right now in war zones covering ISIS, and I don’t understand how the President can make an attack like that.”
“If you look at the polls, including CNN’s polls, national security and terrorism are a big deal to Americans. There seems to be some coverage these days, maybe not here, but definitely elsewhere, that somehow terrorism is not — it’s not a big problem,” Conway shot back.
Tapper then brought up the terror attack in Quebec City that was perpetrated by a white right wing French Canadian man on Muslim men, women and children at a Mosque. “Six people were killed. Pres. Trump has not said or tweeted one public word about this. You want to talk about ignoring terrorism? Why hasn’t the President offered his sympathy to our neighbors in the north?” asked Tapper.
Conway didn’t exactly address the background or faith of the victims in her answer, saying: “I know he is sympathetic to any loss of life, and he is talking about trying to stop terrorism in people who want to do harm to this country. I’m sure in the case of our neighbors to the north, I’m glad that the Prime Minister of Canada is coming here next year — next week, excuse me. I’m sure they’ll talk about that if he’s coming soon, as I understand,” Conway said.
Tapper then asked her about her “Bowling Green massacre” comment to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews last week.
“I apologize about that, but I’m happy I brought awareness to an event where two Iraqi nationals who came to the U.S. who are still in jail,” said Conway.
“You cited a massacre that didn’t happen,” said Tapper. “You said the media didn’t cover it.”
Towards the end of the interview, Tapper got to a major question: “Is CNN fake news, Kellyanne?” Tapper asked.
“No, I don’t think CNN is fake news,” said Conway. “But on TV, in print, radio, in conversation there are stories out there that are just not well-researched and are sometimes based on falsehoods,” she said.
“Certainly the media makes mistakes, but it’s very difficult for us to hear The White House calling us ‘fake news’ for stories that they don’t like,” said Tapper.
Kellyanne Conway: “I don’t think CNN is fake news” https://t.co/0oIFrZfPgC
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) February 7, 2017