It's refreshing when cable news people do their job, and it's sad that I have to say that. But CNN's New Day did an excellent job this morning, discussing the connection between Trump's violent rhetoric and resulting violence -- stochastic terrorism. (I wish they'd start using the term.)
Last night, I read the Christchurch shooter's 30+ page manifesto. He cited Trump and anti-Muslim right-wing extremist Candace Owens. He said he hoped this would cause American liberals to abolish the 2nd Amendment, and cause a "civil war in the U.S. There is no doubt that radicalized individuals around the world are looking to Trump for inspiration. So we watch as the Republicans protect this man, and we will remember.
The panel started by highlighting Trump's violent rhetoric from yesterday's Breitbart interview.
"Joining us to discuss this is David Gregory, CNN political analyst and Joe Lockhart, former White House press secretary for President Clinton. Joe, you were so struck by what the president said that you've written an op-ed about it on this day of global violence where 49 people are dead because, I mean, I'm only going by the gunman's notes in his manifesto if this is really his, he is inspired by the white supremacist movement, he's inspired by violent rhetoric. What are your thoughts when you hear President Trump say that?" Alysin Camerota said.
"Well, I mean, very simply that words matter. This is the president of the United States and it doesn't matter what his motivations are, people listen. and in some cases they act upon it, you can't draw any connection at this point," Joe Lockhart said.
"Hold on, Joe. of course we can't draw connection that the president isn't somehow responsible. However, I'm not drawing the connection. The gunman here. The gunman at the Tree of Life synagogue and the gunman or whatever, the psychopath who sent the bombs to CNN who had the Trump pictures plastered all over his van, they are who are drawing the connection about what their motivation was and where they first heard the heated rhetoric," Camerota said.
"Again, I think I go back to words matter. I think the insidious thing about this particular comment was this idea that if we don't do things the way Trump wants them, then the police will get involved. A police state," Lockhart said.
"The military will get involved. Maybe we'll have tanks rolling down the street or the bikers, the Hell's Angels. And, again, I don't know whether Trump is a, you know, evil mastermind or just someone who just never understands what he's saying. But the fact of the matter is, he says these things and it attacks our democracy. He attacks our institutions. He says, I'm not sure that if I lose the election that I'm going to accept the results. And then he says, 'I've got the military on my side.' We hear this in dictatorships, not our democracy. And the most enduring strength of our country as opposed to around the world, we have peacefully transferred power for 200 and however many years and now we have a president who's hinting that maybe we won't. Maybe we won't."
"We keep using the word hint. I don't think it's a hint, it's a flat-out statement. He's saying the military, the cops, and the bikers and he's saying this out loud in an interview unrepentedly, David," said John Berman.
"He said during the debates as we recall in 2016 that there may not be a peaceful transfer, you know, that if he lost that he wouldn't necessarily concede," David Gregory said.
"So it's not the first time he's said it. You know, if we live in an age where we say, well, we're not going to take him literally, it's just Trump being Trump, that doesn't pass. That's just ridiculous. I mean, Joe's exactly right. Words matter because the presidency is about something more than the occupant. It's about an institution. It says something fundamental about who we are as a democracy and who we are as Americans. and you don't do this. At a time when there's so much toxicity coursing through social media and having someone with a megaphone speaking this way, is like a dictator.
"If the president and those around him are abhorred by the notion that there would be any connection between violence that we see playing out and his rhetoric, then somebody needs to go talk to him. Because it's -- we're not making this up. We have a president who talks about -- who uses the language of dictators to talk about the support of the military and the police. It speaks for itself. And there are people who can hear that and see it as a call to arms, quite literally."
"And have. I mean, if they don't believe the connection, maybe they should go talk to Caesar Sayok, the crazed psychopath with the van with all of the photos of President Trump and Vice President Pence," Camerota said.
"Maybe they should ask him what his trigger was if they really want to know what happens after violent rhetoric. You know, sometimes the president has claimed he doesn't use violent rhetoric. Sometimes Sarah Sanders has claimed that he doesn't use it. I do not like replaying this stuff because I do think that it's dangerous and it triggers people. but I feel we must when they say that he doesn't use it."
She proceeded to roll tape. But you already remember, so you don't need to see it.