Ahead of Debate, CNN Warns of Trump 'Stunts,' 'Neo-Civil War'


Just when you thought the absurd, hacky hyperbole on CNN couldn’t get any worse, now the networks’ hosts and journalists are worrying about Donald Trump and our nation’s “neo-civil war.” They also dismissed the debate as a “stunt.”

CNN Newsroom hosts Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto were joined by Yahoo News’ Brittany Shepard and presidential historian Douglas Brinkley to preview Tuesday night’s debate. 

At one point, Brinkley blurted, “We’re in the middle of a neo-civil war and a slugfest might be entertaining in some ways but it’s not going to help people with COVID, or the economy.” 

Harlow began by addressing Shepard and assuming any criticisms of Hunter Biden are not about what he was up to in Ukraine while his father was vice president, but personal, “Hunter Biden seems to be the word of the day or week. I suppose it might be a big word on the debate stage from the president tonight. How should Joe Biden or how do you — what is your reporting on how he may handle personal attacks on his family?”

 

 

Shepard replied that it’s not just Hunter, but also Tara Reade that Biden may have to answer for, “I think we should all remember Trump is not above pulling stunts. Back in 2016 he brought a slew of Bill Clinton’s accusers to rattle Hillary. It’s not just Hunter Biden. It’s also Tara Reid’s name we haven’t spoken about for a long time, but could come up and completely derail tonight.”

It’s not a stunt to ask the Democratic nominee if he believes in the standard of evidence he applies for himself or the standard his party applied for Brett Kavanaugh or that he himself has pledged to apply to college students as a matter of policy.

Ignoring that bad policy, Shepard claimed Biden still needs to talk about policy, “The moment Joe Biden starts to go back and forth with Donald Trump is a minute that he’s not talking about his policy. A lot of folks know who Joe Biden is as a person but a lot of his policies they still want to be able to get down on.”

Sciutto then tossed the conversation to Brinkley, “campaigns have been ugly before, but this is an historically ugly campaign season here. I just wonder would an historically ugly debate serve either candidates’ interests, right, given the climate right now? I mean, are there risks for both candidates to go low?”

Brinkley said that there was, but then decided to return to Hunter and advised Biden not become Michael Dukakis, “remember, guys, in 1988 when Michael Dukakis was asked by Bernard Shaw of CNN whether his — what if, you know, Kitty Dukakis, if his wife would be raped and he didn’t have an answer and stayed in his lane. I think when gets to Hunter Biden, Joe Biden needs to show some emotion in defending his own son.”

Ignoring legitimate questions about the Bidens, Brinkley claimed such questions are bad for “our democracy” and that “We’re in the middle of a neo-civil war and a slugfest might be entertaining in some ways but it’s not going to help people with COVID, or the economy.” 

This segment was sponsored by Carvana.  

Here is a transcript for the September 29 show:

CNN

CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto

10:06 AM ET

POPPY HARLOW: Let’s talk about what is ahead tonight. Yahoo News national politics reporter Brittany Shepard joins s and our presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. Hey, guys, big night ahead. Brittany, Hunter Biden seems to be the word of the day or week. I suppose it might be a big word on the debate stage from the president tonight. How should Joe Biden or how do you — what is your reporting on how he may handle personal attacks on his family? 

BRITTANY SHEPARD: Well, Biden tends to take things really personally. His advisers have been downplaying the debate significance given that Biden has a dead heat or polling edge in crucial states so there is some worry that Biden’s going get a little hot around the collar especially if he brings up Hunter or Beau. I think we should all remember Trump is not above pulling stunts. Back in 2016 he brought a slew of Bill Clinton’s accusers to rattle Hillary. It’s not just Hunter Biden. It’s also Tara Reid’s name we haven’t spoken about for a long time, but could come up and completely derail tonight. I think it’s going to be crucial television. The moment Joe Biden starts to go back and forth with Donald Trump is a minute that he’s not talking about his policy. A lot of folks know who Joe Biden is as a person but a lot of his policies they still want to be able to get down on. I mean, for now it’s been a referendum on Trump’s presidency but it will be curious how Joe Biden deals with the pressure if he’s taken off guard tonight. 

JIM SCIUTTO: Douglas Brinkley, campaigns have been ugly before, but this is an historically ugly campaign season here. I just wonder would an historically ugly debate serve either candidates’ interests, right, given the climate right now? I mean, are there risks for both
candidates to go low? 

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: There’s great risk for both to go low and incidentally in relation to the Hunter Biden question, remember, guys, in 1988 when Michael Dukakis was asked by Bernard Shaw of CNN whether his — what if, you know, Kitty Dukakis, if his wife would be raped and he didn’t have an answer and stayed in his lane. I think when gets to Hunter Biden, Joe Biden needs to show some emotion in defending his own son, but getting int o the mud, I mean, I guess Donald Trump feels it’s an advantage if he can brutalize Joe Biden, make Joe look like Sleepy Joe, but for our democracy nobody is going to get help. We’re in the middle of a neo-civil war and a slugfest might be entertaining in some ways but it’s not going to help people with COVID, or the economy. 



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