Ted Koppel Breaks the News to Sean Hannity: You’re ‘Bad for America’

On Fox News Sunday, Reince Priebus insists 'I’m not in any trouble'

Sean Hannity was bloviating about how his audience can tell the difference between news programming and opinion programming. He didn’t like the look Ted Koppel gave him. CBS Sunday Morning

In the mid-20th Century, the movements in favor of Civil Rights and against the war in Vietnam were often spawned in churches and led by religious clergy.

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But in recent decades, the “religious right” of hard-core Christianity inflicted on American politics a stern, reactionary attitude against a woman’s right to choose and against equal rights for people who were gay or otherwise not straight and heterosexual.

The Bible-beaters backed repressive, regressive Republicans. But maybe that will change.

A sign of it came on Meet the Press on NBC on Sunday when Gov. Jerry Brown of California—a liberal Democrat—injected religion into the discussion of President Donald Trump’s plans to build a wall on the border with Mexico while deporting undocumented immigrants and tearing apart their families.

That’s not a California attitude, Brown said, and his state will fight it.

“We’ll do the right, human, and I mean to say Christian thing—from my point of view,” Brown said. “You don’t treat human beings like that.”

Paraphrasing Jesus Christ in the New Testament, Brown said “Treat the least of these as we would treat the Lord.”

Referring specifically to Trump, Brown added “I would hope he would reconnect with some of his conservative evangelicals and they’ll tell him that these are human beings. They’re children of God.”

Brown called Trump’s expensive wall “ominous.” He said it reminded him of the Berlin wall.

“There’s a lot of odor here of kind of a strongman, kind of a world where you want the ultimate leader here,” Brown said. “I think Americans ought to be very careful when we make radical changes.”

Hand me the remote . . .


One of the best guests of ABC host George Stephanopoulos was Maggie Haberman, who covers the White House for The New York Times. She spoke of how Trump blamed Democrats for the failure of the Republican health care bill to even come to a vote in the House of Representatives.

“This was an argument that his own advisors, many of them, told him was nonsensical,” she said. “You can’t blame Democrats when you hold both houses of Congress. I don’t think he knows how to cope with defeat. He sounded exhausted when I spoke to him on Friday.”

She discussed misconceptions held by The Great Leader.

“The President doesn’t quite realize that, in politics and, really, in governing, you can’t just wave a wand,” Haberman said. “He’s used to sort of making his own weather . . . and he’s also used to a consequence-free environment . . . He really is stuck.”

Another panelist, Matthew Dowd, said “If Donald Trump wants to find his number one enemy, he should buy a mirror.”

Among opponents of the half-baked Trumpcare bill was the so-called “Freedom Caucus” of right-wing, Tea Party Republicans. The harsh bill wasn’t harsh enough for them.

Chuck Schumer, New York Democrat and Senate minority leader, said “America’s not where the hard-right is” and that Trump better not follow through on his promise to allow damage to the Affordable Care Act, also called “Obamacare.”

“For the President to say he’ll destroy it or undermine it, that’s not presidential, that’s petulance,” Schumer said. “If he—out of anger or vengeance or whatever—starts undermining the ACA, it’s going to backfire on him.”

A late guest was Trump crony Roger Stone, who disputed Congressman Adam Schiff, who is a member of the House intelligence committee investigating Trump’s cronies from last year’s campaign.

“Full of Schiff,” Stone called the California Democrat.

After comparing Trump to Ronald Reagan and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Stone denounced those who question Trump as purveyors of “demagoguery, fear-mongering, Red-baiting and half-truths and, in many cases, just flat-out lies.”

FOX (FOXA) NEWS SUNDAY: Iraq Wants Its Own Oil. Who Knew?

Like most of the Sunday shows, this one—hosted by Chris Wallace—told how Trump urged his Twitter followers to watch Jeanine Pirro’s show Saturday night on Fox News Channel.

And Wallace showed how Pirro opened her program.

Paul Ryan needs to step down as Speaker of the House,” Pirro said.

Wallace turned to his guest, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who told the host that Trump’s plug and Pirro’s demand were “coincidental.”

“Aw, come on,” Wallace said.

In that some fault Priebus for Trump’s failed legislative strategy, Wallace asked Priebus “Are you in trouble?”

“I’m not in any trouble,” Priebus said.

Wallace turned to Trump’s baseless accusation that President Obama spied on him before Trump took office, allegations denied last week by FBI Director James Comey.

WALLACE: “Does the President accept the conclusion from all sides that President Obama did not wire-tap Trump Tower during the campaign and is he ready to apologize?”

PRIEBUS: “OK, well, first of all, well, the answer is ‘No.’”

WALLACE: “He doesn’t accept it?”

PRIEBUS: “No. And I don’t accept it.”

Another guest was Haider al-Abadi, the prime minister of Iraq, who was asked by Wallace about Trump’s notion of taking oil from Iraq as an American reward for invading and conquering it in 2003.

Wallace asked al-Abadi if he’d discussed this with Trump.

“Yes, I did,” the prime minister said. “I told (him), ‘Mr. President, Iraq oil is for Iraquis.’ There is no question about that.”

MEET THE PRESS: Waving the White Flag

Mopping up for Trump’s health care debacle was Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, who told host Chuck Todd about Washington.

“This place was a lot more rotten than we thought,” Mulvaney said.

Todd noted the short time-span Trump allowed for the effort.

TODD: “Seventeen days and you guys are waving the white flag?”

MULVANEY: “When it breaks . . . the Democrats will get blamed.”

DODD: “Is the Republican Party capable of governing?”

MULVANEY: “I know the man in the White House is.”

Todd, noting Trump’s weekend tweets, said to Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah that the President “was blaming the healthcare fiasco on The Freedom Caucus, the Club for Growth and Heritage Foundation for protecting Planned Parenthood and Obamacare.”

“That is not at all how I see it,” Lee said. “Devoting 17 legislative days to a bill and then walking away from it because it hasn’t passed within 17 days makes no sense—especially when this is something we’ve been campaigning on for seven years and the American people are hurting.”

Lee said he disagreed with Republican Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana who said—in printed words Todd showed on screen—“There’s a widespread recognition that the federal government, Congress, has created the right for every American to have health care.”

But agreeing with Cassidy was another Todd guest, Republican Representative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania.

“We have a national health-care architecture now, flawed as it is,” Dent said. “I voted against it. But we’re going to have to work with it to try to make this system better . . . I think, to a certain extent, that debate has already been settled. We do have sort of a national health program. Our job is now to fix it.”

A panel guest, Joy-Ann Reid of MSNBC, reflected on the rocky start of the Trump administration.

“This is what happens when you staff your team with ideologues and people from right-wing media world rather than people who know anything,” she said.

STATE OF THE UNION: Trumpcare “Borders on Mean”

Dana Bash subbed for CNN host Jake Tapper and interviewed John Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio, who opposed Trumpcare and its Medicaid cuts for the poor.

“Frankly, it borders on mean,” Kasich said. “Obamacare needs to be significantly reformed—and it can be, constructively.”

Another guest with a similar opinion was Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan.

“You cannot rip insurance away from people,” she said. “You cannot force people to pay more and give them less.”

FACE THE NATION: No Evidence or Higher Purpose

One of John Dickerson’s guests was the Democrat Schiff, who spoke of his fellow Californian, Devin Nunes, a Republican who chairs the House intelligence committee. Last week, Nunes scurried to the White House to tell Trump the secrets he’d discovered but hid from the rest of the committee.

Critics said Nunes acted more like a flunky for the amateur President than a man investigating him.

“The chairman has to make a decision whether to act as a surrogate of the White House—as he did during the campaign and the transition—or to lead an independent and credible investigation,” Schiff said. “I hope he chooses the latter.”

In a commentary, Dickerson discussed Trump’s accusations against Obama.

“President Trump compared his predecessor to Nixon and McCarthy,” Dickerson said. “Called him ‘sick’ and ‘bad.’ To break glass like that, a President must have a good reason and proof. President Trump had no evidence, no higher purpose.”

RELIABLE SOURCES: Pathological, Compulsive Liar

One of Brian Stelter’s guests on CNN was journalist Carl Bernstein, who said Republicans are “terribly alarmed” by the incompetence of Trump.

“He is not a competent leader,” Bernstein said. “His presidency is a bodyguard of lies and that is undermining his presidency . . . There is almost an impossibility that Trump can regain trust  . . . He has lied at will all of his adult life . . . There’s an almost pathological, compulsive element to his lying.”

Stelter also addressed a story that Fox ran in heavy rotation last week about a high-school girl allegedly raped in Maryland by two undocumented immigrants. He said Fox ignored a scarier story from New York, where a white supremacist killed a 66-year-old black man with a 26-inch knife.

“Not a crime that fit the political agenda of those pro-Trump hosts on Fox,” Stelter said.

MEDIA BUZZ: “Cartoonish Obsession”

Give credit to Mollie Hemingway of the Federalist, a regular on Howard Kurtz’s show on Fox. She can recite a straw-man argument as if she really believes it. Here’s Hemingway on Trump’s crackpot accusation against Obama and those who prove it false.

“There seems to be an almost cartoonish obsession with debunking this idea that Barack Obama personally crawled into Trump Tower, laid down a wiretap,” she said. “And if that didn’t happen, then Donald Trump isn’t telling the truth.”

Actually, nobody says that. All they’re saying is that Trump lied when he accused Obama of a felony. And that’s still the truth, no matter how shills like Hemingway try to spin it. Trump lied. And that’s the truth.

FOX FOLLIES No. 1: Hannity vs. Koppel

Sean Hannity, the leading Trump fluffer on Fox, appeared on the cbs Sunday Morning show when Ted Koppel did a feature on the “alternate universes” in the media.

Hannity was bloviating about how his audience can tell the difference between news programming and opinion programming. He didn’t like the look Koppel gave him.

“You’re cynical,” Hannity said. “You think we’re bad for America? You think I’m bad for America?”

KOPPEL (softly): ”Yeah.”

HANNITY: “You do?”

KOPPEL: “In the long haul—”

HANNITY (interrupting): “Really.”

KOPPEL:  “I think you and all these opinion shows—”

HANNITY (interrupting again): “That’s sad, Ted. That’s sad.”

KOPPEL: “You know why? Because you’re very good at what you do and because you have attracted a significantly more influential—”

HANNITY: (interrupting a third time and pointing a finger): “You are selling the American people short.”

KOPPEL: “Let me finish before—let me finish the sentence before you do that.”

HANNITY (in folksy diction): “Ah’m listenin’. With all due respect.”

KOPPEL: “You have attracted people who are determined that ideology is more important than facts.”

FOX FOLLIES No. 2: A Bitter Cavuto

Few Fox anchors come across more sour than Neil Cavuto, who hosts Your World at 4 p.m. weekdays on Fox. Last week, Cavuto trashed his profession of journalism in a bitter rant by insulting reporters who don’t appreciate the crudeness and rudeness of the Trump administration.

“Hell hath no fury like a mainstream media still furious at a President who calls them fake,” Cavuto said. “Their rage is real  . . . Are we so blinded by being slighted that we can’t be even slightly fair? So unhinged in our rage that we become unhinged in our coverage? So off-balance in our pique that we can’t even feign balance and end up just looking pathetic?”

“. . . You’re right to be offended being called fake. But save your crocodile tears for the media choir from whose hymnal you all seem to sing. You just can’t see it because you refuse to look beyond your tortured face. That’s when you’re in lockstep, media lockstep. You’re locked into taking the same steps, offering the same coverage, voicing the same bias.

“You’re in good company saying `Donald Trump is bad!’ Good luck winning over your media pals saying anything about him is good. And good luck to any journalist who dares remind you that kind of behavior well, that’s what’s bad! I guess you figured Trump had it coming because he’s a jerk. So you feel emboldened to just act like jerks . . . Hell hath no fury like the thin-skinned, slimy world of some of the mainstream media . . . It is time you got over yourself. Have a lovely evening.”

Ted Koppel Breaks the News to Sean Hannity: You’re ‘Bad for America’