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The president only wants to talk to people who will make him feel smart
President Donald Trump broke his streak of granting interviews exclusively to his friends at Fox to delve into an even safer space: talking about windmills with an octogenarian who hangs on his every word.
Trump’s sit-down with Robertson is the first televised interview he’s granted to an outlet other than Fox News in two months. (He also gave an interview to Reuters’ Steve Holland on the same day.) With this interview, Trump has now granted more on-camera interviews to the Christian Broadcasting Network (two) than he has to any other network besides Fox (11) since his inauguration.
It’s telling that the president would turn to Robertson for a friendly media face as his administration continues to stifle press access in unprecedented ways -- he thinks critics of Trump are defying “God’s plan for America.” Robertson is also a deeply anti-LGBTQ figure on the evangelical right who has blamed feminists and the ACLU for 9/11 and thinks the Hurricane Katrina devastation was “connected” to abortion.
Trump talked to Robertson because he knew the unabashed Trump fan wouldn't press him on any of the many scandals engulfing his administration, and Robertson didn't disappoint. Here are the highlights, speaking for themselves.
Here’s Robertson opening the interview by telling Trump he’s “so proud of everything you’re doing”:
Here is Trump showing off to Robertson that he knows how to pronounce Qatar:
Here is Trump explaining to Robertson that the G20 Summit was a success because there were 20 countries represented there, and he got along well with everyone:
Here is a hard-hitting exchange about Trump’s “good” and “not bad” meeting with Putin:
Here’s Trump and Robertson talking about “thousands” of regulations Trump has purportedly lifted:
Here’s the very in-depth answer Robertson got when he asked about the potential failure of the Republican health care bill:
This one is just fun:
And here’s Robertson predicting Trump will be re-elected and telling him that the “evangelicals of America” are praying for him:
There is no video of Trump talking about the ongoing investigations into his presidential campaign’s possible collusion with Russia, because it just never came up!
The interview ended with Trump explaining, to Robertson’s visible delight, that he gave an interview to the host because he’s “treated very unfairly by the press” but Robertson has “people that I love.” “You will be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again very soon,” Trump assured him.
Robertson then spent more time reflecting on his delightful time with the president and his staff and praising Trump’s “vision.” The televangelist also congratulated himself on not asking the president about any Russia “garbage.” Good job, Pat.
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After two months of cozy Fox News interviews, President Donald Trump finally plans to sit down with another network’s host tomorrow. But don’t expect the interview to shed much light on the numerous scandals currently drowning the Trump administration. The president will be questioned by the Christian Broadcasting Network’s Pat Robertson, who has said that Trump’s critics are defying God’s will and serving Satan.
Trump has stopped granting televised interviews to media figures who aren't sycophants. According to a Media Matters review, he has done 17 television interviews since being sworn in, 12 of which were with the pro-Trump hosts of Fox News and Fox Business. He has done more interviews (four) with Fox & Friends than with ABC, CBS, and NBC combined. He has not been interviewed by a non-Fox host since his disastrous May appearance with NBC’s Lester Holt, during which he admitted that he had fired FBI Director James Comey because of his handling of the Russia investigation. Trump also has not done a full press conference since February, and his White House’s press briefings have become short, sporadic, and off-camera.
Robertson makes Sean Hannity look like Rachel Maddow. He believes that God is working on Trump’s behalf and that the president’s opponents are “not only revolting against Trump, they’re revolting against what God’s plan is for America” due to a “satanic” desire to “destroy America.”
The 700 Club host also has ties to Trump's personal attorney. Jay Sekulow has been chief counsel at the Robertson-founded American Center for Law and Justice since 1993.
Robertson has a long history of making bizarre and offensive commentary, including:
Shelby Jamerson and Rob Savillo provided additional research
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos was the only national reporter who questioned Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump about the many scandals that have dogged his campaign during his weeks-long appearance hiatus on all major cable news networks outside of Fox News.
As the presidential debates approached, Trump deliberately retreated to Fox News, where he received softball interviews from friendly hosts such as Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. Since the debates began, Trump has rarely appeared outside of conservative news outlets. Prior to interviews this week, Trump had not appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, or MSNBC since September 7.
Trump reappeared on mainstream networks after the ribbon-cutting ceremony for his new hotel in Washington, D.C., but of the five outlets that received access, Stephanopoulos was the only reporter to ask Trump about the numerous scandals plaguing his presidential campaign.
Stephanopoulos, unlike any other media figure who received one-on-one access at the hotel, pressed Trump on his threat to file lawsuits against the numerous women who have accused him of sexual assault and his assertion that the Clinton campaign orchestrated the women to lie about the allegations. He also forced Trump to answer to his claim that FBI director James Comey is corrupt, asked if he thinks he owes Judge Gonzalo Curiel and the family of Khizr Khan apologies, and corrected his false claim that he opposed the Iraq war from the start.
Bloomberg News editor Mark Halperin and CNN reporter Dana Bash also spoke with Trump after his hotel ribbon cutting, but neither confronted problems that have weighed down Trump’s campaign in recent weeks, although Bash did question whether it was a good idea for Trump to take time out of campaigning to open his hotel. Halperin avoided the topics entirely, instead tossing Trump softball questions about his confidence in polling data and if he was feeling “under the weather” because he reportedly ate a throat lozenge.
Prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony, Trump granted interviews to only two non-Fox News sources. Trump phoned into radio host Rush Limbaugh’s show unannounced on October 25. Limbaugh sympathized with Trump’s claims that the media is conspiring against him and praised Trump for “fighting back” against his critics. Limbaugh also asked Trump how he would approach the Affordable Care Act. Christian Broadcasting Networks’ Pat Robertson also recieved on-camera time with Trump for The 700 Club on October 24, but chose to ask Trump about hiring employees, appointing women to his administration, nominating Supreme Court justices, and growing the economy through proposed tax cuts, rather than addressing any controversies surrounding his campaign.
Trump’s strategy of retreating to conservative media outlets and blacking out interviews with non-Fox News media figures allowed him to bypass many of the scandals he created for himself, and to d successfully avoid being held accountable during the peak of each scandal. Interviewers who neglected to press Trump on his numerous scandals t failed in their fundamental duty of holding Trump accountable for the events that happen during his campaign.
Robertson Agrees: “It Is The Most Barbaric Thing. … That’s Infanticide.”
In an exclusive interview with the 700 Club’s Pat Robertson, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump repeated his false allegations about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s support for so-called “partial-birth” abortion -- a right-wing media myth Trump previously invoked during the final presidential debate.
During the October 19 debate, Trump asserted that Clinton supports abortion procedures that “rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month [of pregnancy]” in response to moderator Chris Wallace’s question about so-called “partial-birth abortions.” His comments reflect a longstanding right-wing media myth about late-term abortions and the phrase “partial-birth abortion,” which was invented by anti-choice groups as a mechanism to vilify and shame individuals who have abortions later in pregnancy.
Trump repeated these allegations during his October 24 interview with Robertson, claiming that “according to the rules of Hillary, you can take the baby at nine months” or even “a day prior to birth.” Robertson not only endorsed Trump’s false description, but he also went further, describing the late-term abortion procedure as a process where “the baby is about two-thirds already born in the birth canal. The doctor turns it around to get its head, punches the back of its skull, and evacuates the brain”:
PAT ROBERTSON (HOST): Something else that Hillary did. She took the radical feminist view in relation to abortion and she didn't back off one iota in that debate, not one. And you called her on partial-birth abortion and she said it's not as bad as you said. But the truth is it's worse than what she said --
DONALD TRUMP: -- Probably worse. It’s probably worse. According to her it wasn't bad at all. I mean, it wasn’t even like a little bit bad.
ROBERTSON: The actual partial birth is the baby is about two-thirds already born in the birth canal. The doctor turns it around to get its head, punches the back of its skull, and evacuates the brain. It is the most barbaric thing. And to defend that and say that's a woman's right?
TRUMP: And I said it very strongly. A lot of people, I must say I have been called by a lot of pastors, I’ve been called by priests, thanking me because they have never heard anyone explain it quite the way I explained it. And, you know, I'm very happy about that. I'm happy we can get the word out because it's terrible.
ROBERTSON: She defended that barbaric practice of partial birth and then she defended Planned Parenthood -- a $500 million-plus federal dollars. It's terrible.
TRUMP: Well, according to the rules of Hillary, you can take the baby at nine months and you can imagine what you have to do to that baby to get it out. And you can take that baby at nine months and you can abort. And a day prior to birth you can take the baby. And I said it's unacceptable.
ROBERTSON: That's infanticide.
Neither Robertson’s nor Trump’s assertions are accurate -- legally, medically, or in terms of Clinton’s position. As numerous media outlets noted, Trump’s debate comments about late-term abortion bore little resemblance to reality. Talking Points Memo called his description “a grossly inaccurate view of abortion in the United States,” while Rolling Stone concluded that “nowhere in [the third debate] was his ignorance on brighter, flashier display than on the subject of late-term abortion.”
Statements about later-term abortions from both Trump and right-wing media overestimate the frequency of these procedures, include inaccurate information about what is involved, and undervalue the agency and lived realities of those making the often medically necessary decision to abort a wanted pregnancy at this stage.
Approximately 99 percent of abortions in the United States take place before the 21st week of pregnancy, but the Supreme Court has explicitly protected the right to have an abortion up to the point of fetal viability -- which most states set at 24 weeks. It also determined that any restrictions imposed after viability must include exemptions to protect the life or health of the mother. As Vox’s Emily Crockett explained, women can obtain a post-viability abortion only when "there is something seriously wrong with either the fetus or her own health."
Not only is “partial-birth” abortion a right-wing media creation, but the allegation that Clinton supports such a practice is also inaccurate. On October 9, PolitiFact Texas rated as false a statement by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) that Clinton “supports unlimited abortion on demand up until the moment of birth, including partial-birth abortion.” PolitiFact noted that “abortions in the weeks leading up to birth” are an extreme rarity and that “Clinton has long said that she’d support a late-term limit on abortion--provided it has exceptions” -- a position she reiterated during the October 19 debate.
As Huffington Post contributor Dr. Jennifer Gunter, an OB-GYN, wrote, Trump’s recycled assertions about “partial-birth” abortion “couldn’t be further from the truth.” She continued that despite her insistence as a medical professional that “partial-birth abortions are an inexact term rejected by the American Congress of OB/GYN,” anti-choice groups and politicians have continued using the term to restrict access to necessary reproductive health care. Gunter concluded (emphasis original):
The myth of “ninth month” abortions and partial birth abortions accomplish two goals: firing up the base for fundraising and getting more people to believe that at least some abortion restrictions are needed. Getting 100 percent of people to align with you on one small part of the procedure makes it easier to gradually push the bar. It is the thin edge of the wedge.
The anti-choice movement needs the idea of partial birth abortions of a healthy fetus in the “ninth month” just like they need the devil. However, if you pull back the curtain on their sideshow, all you see are women in medically desperate situations in need of high quality medical care.
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The Islamophobic rhetoric spewed by right-wing media in response to the deadly attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris is just the most recent in a long history of conservative anti-Islam vitriol.
CDC: "No Evidence" For Claims About Unaccompanied Minors
Right-wing media are falsely blaming the recent surge of undocumented children from Central America for spreading a deadly strain of the enterovirus. Conservatives are claiming the children are a form of "biological warfare" and President Obama and the government are "bringing in infected children and putting them in our public schools" because he's "so obsessed with winning Latino votes." However, the disease has been detected in the country for decades and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) told Media Matters that there is "no evidence" of a link.
Fearmongering about undocumented children spreading enterovirus D68 is the latest chapter in the conservative media's book of xenophobic smears. The right-wing media, in their efforts to oppose immigration reform, have previously blamed undocumented immigrants for diseases such as Hansen's disease (leprosy) and tuberculosis.
This year, a surge of unaccompanied children fled violence-stricken Central America and crossed the border into the United States. Many of the children were relocated to various cities and are starting school.
The CDC has confirmed over 600 cases of EV-D68 since mid-August. The agency notes that "Almost all the confirmed cases this year of EV-D68 infection have been among children. Many of the children had asthma or a history of wheezing." While investigations are ongoing, the virus has been "detected in specimens from five patients who died and had samples submitted for testing."
Public health experts have debunked the alleged connection between the influx of undocumented children into the United States and the spread of EV-D68. CDC spokesperson Jeanette St. Pierre told Media Matters: "Currently, there is no evidence from testing at CDC that EV-D68 infections in the U.S. are a result of unaccompanied minors moving into the country."
MLive reported that conservatives "have implied a link between undocumented children from Central America and the spread of enterovirus, but public health experts say that's simply not the case." The Michigan-based site, which publishes The Grand Rapids Press and others, wrote:
Republican and conservative media figures lauded a report from CBS' 60 Minutes on the September 2012 Benghazi attacks, using it to advance their attacks on the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton. But that report has since come under fire following the revelation that the piece's key Benghazi "eyewitness" had previously claimed he was nowhere near the compound on the night of the attack.
Several media figures have reacted to the mass shooting in Washington, D.C.'s Navy Yard by downplaying the role access to firearms had in the killings, instead blaming video games and their purported effect on mental health. But studies have either debunked or failed to find a plausible link between playing violent video games and real world gun violence.
Much of the connection between shooter Aaron Alexis and video games appears to come from Mike Ritrovato, who says he knew Alexis. Ritrovato told The Los Angeles Times that "if [Alexis] had anything bad about him, it was that he was a 35-year-old man playing video games." Ritrovato also told ABC News that Alexis was often late to work "because he was staying up all night playing video games."
In response to a viewer question asking if negative actions in video games were seen as sinful by God, Pat Robertson referred to games like "Grand Theft Auto" and said, "if you're murdering somebody in cyberspace in a sense you're performing the act, you like it or not."
From the August 2 edition of CBN's The 700 Club:
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