A CNN panel exploded into chaos on Tuesday night on “Cuomo Prime Time” as host Chris Cuomo, liberal commentator Angela Rye and conservative commentator Steve Cortes argued over President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and whether or not it leads to violence and infringement on the freedom of the press.
Rye and Cortes, both CNN commentators, could not agree over whether Trump’s handling of the international crisis over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia was appropriate.
While Rye blamed Trump for his harsh rhetoric against the “fake news” media as “the enemy of the people” — Cortes believed she took her analogies too far.
“The problem is — and this is where I was going initially — Donald Trump sees the press as his enemy. Donald Trump sees the press [as] more of his enemy than the Saudis because he can put a dollar figure next to it,” Rye insisted.
“So 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.”
“And [Trump] 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,” Rye said directly to Cortes.
Rye was referring to the crude explosive devices that Cesar Sayoc Jr., who was a Trump supporter, sent to prominent Democrats and CNN’s bureau in New York City in late October. Many mainstream media members partially blamed Trump for the suspicious package threat because of his criticism of CNN and the Democrats who received the packages.
But Cortes argued that “all he [Trump] has done is criticize the press. He has not done one thing to infringe upon the freedom of the press in this country.”
That’s when Rye brought up controversial CNN reporter Jim Acosta, whose White House press credentials were yanked following his behavior at a press conference with Trump earlier in November.
After some legal drama, the White House returned Acosta’s pass to him permanently and established a set of rules for future briefing behavior.
Rye and Cortes argued over one another, with Cortes saying, “I’m tired of constantly hearing about how [Trump is] somehow abusing freedom of the press … That is a lie. That’s fake news.”
“No. What’s fake news is your whole presentation right now,” Rye shot back.
After Cortes argued that Trump’s criticism of the media should not be lumped in with the murder of Khashoggi, host Cuomo finally jumped in and sided with Rye.
“That’s not our standard, Steve. You don’t have to kill somebody for me to criticize how you are. We’re not there yet, pal. The line isn’t ‘everything is OK but murder.’ We’re not there yet,” Cuomo insisted.
Rye claimed Trump has “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.”
But Cortes fired back, insisting that he, too, has received death threats because of his conservative views.
Cortes blamed Antifa for the threats against him.
“Is that why that guy sent me a bomb? Is that why we have bombs sent here, because of Antifa?” Cuomo mocked Cortes.
Cortes replied, “Are you saying that Antifa is not violent?”
“I’m saying that that’s not who sent the bomb to my office, Steve,” Cuomo argued.
After more tiresome shouting, Cuomo then lectured Cortes and asked him not to “distract from something like somebody sending a bomb to our offices because he was picking up on what was being put down by the president of the United States.”
“There is political violence and political threats on both sides of this country and that’s a problem,” Cortes shot back.
“Are you saying that Antifa is not violent?”
But according to Cuomo, “it’s not a ‘both sides’ situation” because “we’ve got one president.”
“If he did not abuse the truth the way he does and villainize his opponents and demonize those that he wants people to turn against, there would be a different tone in this country,” Cuomo declared.
Watch more of this off-the-rails segment in the video below: