Famed Washington Post Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein tore into the Fourth Estate falling for Trump’s dueling memos distraction.
“Trump wants to turn this into a Dems versus Republican argument, as opposed to being about the conduct of the President of the United States…his campaign and business associates. And he’s succeeding in it – partly because the press is falling for this line and spending all our time debating this memo. It’s a red herring,” he scolded CNN’s New Day co-hosts Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
Press also keeps making “how is this like Watergate” comparisons, Bernstein scoffed. “Watergate is not the analogy; the analogy is Joe McCarthy and Donald Trump.” McCarthy, he reminded, was about “smearing political institutions for self political gain.”
“He smeared the Department of the Army, he smeared the U.S. Information Agency, the Voice of America. He accused people of treason – exactly like Donald Trump did the other day,” Bernstein warned, referencing Trump’s denunciation of Dems who did not stand and applaud him during his SOTU address. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted Trump was joking.
“It’s not an accident that McCarthy’s handmaiden and enabler was Roy Cohn,” who, Bernstein said, was Trump’s lawyer early in his real-estate career.
“We heard the other day Donald Trump speak of his mentor Roy Cohn, ‘Where is my Roy Cohn?’,” Bernstein reminded CNN hosts and viewers.
“This is a moment,” Bernstein warned. “Donald Trump mimics, re-embodies to a large extent the tactics, techniques and methodology of Joe McCarthy,” who Bernstein called “the last great authoritarian demagogue in this country.”
“The constant smearing of immigrants..of those he opposes, the belittling of the ‘little’ this, ‘little’ him. Go look at the clips of Joe McCarthy.”
Cuomo, nonetheless, tried to turn the talk back to the Nunes memo.
“Why is [Trump] trying to cover up and impede the Mueller investigation and use McCarthyite tactics,” Bernstein continued, undeterred.
“The difference between McCarthy and Donald Trump – McCarthy was a senator. We have never had a President of the United States who was an authoritarian demagogue before, who issues the kind of smears and lies daily. This is extraordinary. Let’s see what McCarthy looked like,” Bernstein said, daring CNN to “put up the video next to Donald Trump.”
To her credit, Camerota, at least, finally asked Bernstein what happened with McCarthy.
“McCarthy was able to scare the hell out of the Republican Party for years, just as we are seeing now, by appealing to the base that was frightened and alienated, and by demonizing his enemies and opponents. Exactly the same thing,” Bernstein explained.