A fiery discussion unfolded on CNN as guest panelists got into a heated debate over President Trump’s treatment of the press and how his rhetoric has subjected people on the network to death threats.
Panelists Angela Rye and Steve Cortes locked horns over Trump not taking strong action against Saudi Arabia following Jamal Khashoggi‘s death, and the debate turned to the president’s attacks on the media.
“Donald Trump sees the press more of his enemy than the Saudis because he can put a dollar figure next to it,” Rye argued.
“He is siding and aligning himself with people who have been threatened by the mere questions, threatened by the mere seeking of accountability of folks in power,” she said. “And he has already made it very clear with folks who also sit on this network that the press is his greatest enemy. That is the truth, and that is a painful pill that y’all don’t want to swallow.”
Cortes took issue with her remarks.
“And all he has done is criticize the press. He has not done one thing to infringe upon the freedom of the press in this country,” the conservative commentator shot back.
“I’m sorry. Jim Acosta. Jim Acosta. Jim Acosta. April Ryan. Abby Phillips. Yamiche alcindor. Are you kidding me?” Rye exclaimed.
“They can say whatever they want whenever they want about the president of the United States,” Cortes argued.
When Rye brought up the lawsuit over Acosta’s press pass, Cortes said the White House reporter was disciplined for “poor behavior.”
“I’m tired of constantly hearing about how he is somehow abusing freedom of the press. That is a lie. That’s fake news,” Cortes said of the president. “You cannot compare him to MBS or anybody in the House of Saud––whoever it was––who ordered the murder of a journalist.”
He argued that Trump is only using words and criticizing, and that cannot be compared to murdering journalists in other countries, as the segment continued to go off the rails with everyone talking at once.
“Time out!” Rye interjected. “He’s actually put people’s lives in danger! Do you know there are people who sit on this network who are getting death threats because of your president’s rhetoric?! That is the truth.”
“Angela, you know what? I do know there’s people getting death threats. You know why? Because I happen to be one of them because the vitriol in this country — it’s because of the left. It’s because of antifa quite frankly,” Cortes responded.
“Is that why that guy sent me a bomb?” host Chris Cuomo jumped in. “Is that why we have bombs sent here, because of antifa?”
“Are you saying that antifa’s not violent?” Cortes asked.
“I’m saying that’s not who sent the bomb to my office, Steve!” Cuomo said. “When somebody threatens you and your family and your safety, I hope that the first thing that comes to mind is, ‘Well, you know, there are bad things that other people do too. I guess I won’t take it too personally.’”
After more back-and-forth, Cuomo attempted to reign things in, saying “If this president did not speak the way he does, he would not get the coverage that he does.”
“How about mainstream media stops calling all of us racist,” Cortes asked.
“Have I ever called you a racist?” Cuomo questioned.
“You have not, but plenty of people —” Cortes began as Cuomo cut him off, “Let’s leave it there. I’m way out of time, and we are now unproductive.”