CNN Analysts Explain Why Trump’s Backtrack On His False Iran Video Claim Does Not Deserve Praise

Numerous CNN analysts tempered media responses to the revelation that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump backtracked on his widely-criticized false claim that he saw video footage of the U.S. delivering cash to Iran. While some in the media gave Trump credit for “making a rare admission he was wrong,” CNN analysts explained that the remarks were just another attempt by Trump to recreate reality.

Trump Claimed He Saw A Video Of A U.S. Cash Payment Going To Iran That Does Not Exist, Later Attempted To Backtrack On Twitter

NY Times: “Trump Is Making A Rare Admission He Was Wrong” About A Video Showing U.S. Cash Payment To Iran. The New York Times reported on August 5 that Donald Trump tweeted: “‘The plane I saw on television was the hostage plane in Geneva, Switzerland, not the plane carrying $400 million in cash going to Iran!" after repeatedly claiming he saw a video showing a U.S. plane delivering a cash payment to Iran. The Times noted that Trump “repeated the claim” hours after his campaign admitted that it was false:

Donald Trump is making a rare admission he was wrong — in claiming he saw a video of a U.S. cash payment going to Iran.

Trump tweeted Friday that “The plane I saw on television was the hostage plane in Geneva, Switzerland, not the plane carrying $400 million in cash going to Iran!”

Trump has been expressing outrage about a $400 million payment the U.S. made to Iran this year. It was delivered on the same day that Iran released four Americans they had detained. Republicans call it ransom; the Obama administration says it was money the U.S. legally owed Iran.

Trump said Wednesday he saw video showing the money being delivered. The campaign acknowledged Thursday that this was incorrect, yet Trump repeated the claim hours later at a rally. [New York Times, 8/5/16]

CNN Analysts Explain That His “Revisionist” Tweet Was Ambiguous, Not Sufficient, And Does Not Deserve Praise

CNN's Jim Sciutto: “It Seems To Me” That Trump Was “Recreating The Reality” Of What He Previously Said About The Video. CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto pointed out the inconsistencies of Trump’s clarification and questioned whether Trump was admitting that he was wrong or rather attempting to “recreat[e] reality here.” From the August 5 edition of CNN’s New Day:

JIM SCIUTTO: Here is Donald Trump's new response on this via Twitter. As usual he says, “The plane I saw on television was the hostage plane in Geneva, Switzerland, not the plane carrying $400 million in cash going to Iran!” Now, just for sake of fact, let's play his actual comments yesterday, which was a repeated story in effect about what he saw on that video. Let's have a listen.


DONALD TRUMP: A tape was made, right? You saw that with the airplane coming in? Nice plane. And the airplane coming in and the money coming off, I guess, right? That was given to us, has to be, by the Iranians. And you know why the tape was given to us? Because they want to embarrass our country. They want to embarrass our country.


SCIUTTO: So two glaring misstatements of fact there. One, he did say in that statement yesterday in public that the plane had money coming off it, not hostages, as he says in the tweet. But he also says that this tape was somehow given to us by the Iranians. And again, now in the tweet he says not given to us by the Iranians, but something that he saw on television. So the question here, John and Poppy, is this tweet an admission of guilt in effect, or not guilt but inaccuracy, or is he in effect recreating the reality here, saying that “I was never talking about money coming off that plane, I was always talking about the hostages?” And it seems to me, looking at that tweet that what he's saying is that “well no, no, I wasn't talking about money, I was talking purely about hostages.” We'll leave that to the chattering classes and the rest of us to decide going forward. [CNN, New Day, 8/5/16]

CNN’s Ana Navarro On Trump’s Walkback:“I Think It’s A Tweet Short And A Day Too Late.” CNN Republican political commentator Ana Navarro called Trump’s attempt to clarify his position “a tweet short and a day too late,” and noted that “the fact that he makes stuff up is nothing new.” Navarro concluded that this adds to the mounting evidence that “there is not going to be a pivot” from Trump. From the August 5 edition of CNN’s New Day:

JOHN BERMAN (CO-HOST): All right. There was no tape of the cash exchange and the video was not given to us, but Donald Trump is admitting that today after describing at length yesterday, Ana. Will this tweet today -- is this the type of thing that will help some of his numbers? Particularly, you know, honest and trustworthiness, which we always talk about are not good for Hillary Clinton. And they’re not. They’re awful. But Donald Trump's numbers, especially in this latest Fox News poll, they're really just as bad on that issue of honest and trustworthiness. Is that going to correct it, Ana?

ANA NAVARRO: Look, I think it's a tweet short and a day too late. he fact that he makes stuff up is nothing new. The only breaking news here is that he's actually admitting that he made stuff up. That's the only newsworthiness to it. We've seen him do this with the video of the thousands of Muslims dancing in the streets in New Jersey. He's been doing this all along, and all along he doubles down. He never admits that he made it up, that he made a mistake, that he might have been -- you know, I mean, you can see. I mean, seriously, can't you understand how any normal human being could confuse a person for a wad of cash being taken off a plane? I mean, certainly you can see the normalcy in that, right? Look, I just think it's too late. And I think what you saw this week is that Republicans are in distress, are in angst because they're seeing his numbers plummet, and they're realizing that there is going to be no pivot. That Donald Trump is going to continue being the Donald Trump we've seen consistently for the last 15 months, for which I give him credit, by the way, because it's a lot better than waking up January 21st and realizing you've elected this man who's totally different as president. [CNN, New Day, 8/5/16]

CNN’s John Berman: “Just To Be Clear, You Don’t Get Some Kind Of Gold Medal For Admitting Or Revising What You’re Saying About A Video That You Made Up.” CNN host Poppy Harlow agreed with Sciutto’s classification of Trump’s tweet as “revisionist history,” and co-host John Berman stated “to be clear, you don’t get some kind of gold medal for admitting or revising what you’re saying about a video that you made up that doesn’t exist.” From the August 5 edition of CNN’s New Day:

POPPY HARLOW (CO-HOST): All right. So, Phil, stay with us. Let me bring back international security correspondent Jim Sciutto as well. A lot to parse through this morning including all these new polls. But just to get what Jim called “revisionist history,” which I think is the best way to describe it, Phil, do you think that this is coming, this about face is coming because finally, he is listening to his team, and he’s seeing it in the numbers? He is seeing polls where he is as much as 15 points behind Clinton, and for the first time, listening to them? Remember, he didn't revise his response to the Kahn family last week despite all of the drama that ensued, but now he is.


JOHN BERMAN (CO-HOST): But just to be clear, you don't get some kind of gold medal for admitting or revising what you're saying about a video that you made up that doesn't exist, Jim. I mean, you've been talking todiplomats, Secretary of State John Kerry commented yesterday, they almost don't even know how to respond to this because Donald Trump invented a scene that never happened. [CNN, New Day, 8/5/16]

CNN Host Fareed Zakaria: Once Again Trump Has “Said Something Demonstrably False And Then Explained It Away With A Caustic Tweet.” CNN host Fareed Zakaria explained how Trump’s tweet fit into a pattern of him saying “something demonstrably false and then explain[ing] it away with a caustic tweet.” Zakaria added that this is just another example of Trump being “a B.S. artist.” From the August 5 edition of CNN’s New Day:

JOHN BERMAN (CO-HOST): You've been talking a little bit about Donald Trump the last few days using some colorful language, Fareed, and this sort of gets to that issue.

FAREED ZAKARIA: It doesn't just get to that issue -- if I can I noticed you have it here, so let me just read the first line of the Washington Post column you're referring to.

POPPY HARLOW (CO-HOST): Read your headline.

ZAKARIA: “A few days ago, I was asked on CNN to make sense of one more case in which Donald Trump had said something demonstrably false and then explained it away with a caustic tweet.” He’s done it again. The thing that surprises me is that we are still surprised. This is what he does with everything. Every claim he has really ever made in his life there's some concoction of hyperbole and falsehood, which he then acts very surprised if people call him on it. The birtherism charges were complete nonsense, his business claims are complete nonsense. You know, his book, he keeps talking about The Art of the Deal being the biggest business best-seller ever. It is not that. It is not even close. And yet, for him, this is just part of the, you know, this is why I call it, and I'm not going to offend people's ears this morning, it's B.S. He's a B.S. artist. He has done this his whole life. And I suppose it's OK if you're selling condos or you're selling your name brand on ties, but when you're doing it when you're running for the president of the United States, he's creating new rules. And how many times can we do fact-checking on this guy because it is every day, he does one of these things. I think it's pathological because it is so self-defeating. Rather than having the substantive discussion, John, that you wanted to have about it, here we are talking about one more made-up thing that Donald Trump has said. [CNN, New Day, 8/5/16]