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Published On: Tue, Jul 17th, 2018

ABC’s Jon Karl conflates calling the press ‘fake news’ to Russia murdering journalists

Sunday on ABC’s “This Week‏,” host Jon Karl asked National Security Adviser John Bolton about the cancellation of his interview with CNN, making a shocking false equivalency between the “fake news” at CNN or other outlets to Russia’s government cracking down on the press, murdering journalist.

“I want to ask you about Putin and freedom of the press,” Karl asked. “Vladimir Putin and his government have jailed journalists, there have been accusations they have carried out murders of journalists, and we hear President Trump, doesn’t he kind of contribute to that authoritarian effort to undermine a free press when we hear him brand legitimate news organizations as fake, legitimate news stories as fake? Doesn’t that contribute to exactly the kind of undermining of the free press that we see out of Russia?”

Bolton shot back, “No I don’t think that has anything to do with it. Franklin Roosevelt met with Joseph Stalin at a time when activity in Russia was a lot worse than it is today. I’m not excusing present conduct, but it didn’t seem to bother Franklin Roosevelt, and liberal Democrats weren’t bothered at the time when he met with Stalin. Let’s have some historical perspective here and not act like we have the attention span of fruit flies.”

Karl continued, “But wait a minute. I’m not asking whether or not it’s legitimate or appropriate for him to meet with Vladimir Putin. I’m asking if the president branding real news organizations, real news stories as not real contributes to this effort that we see from the Russians and from other authoritarians to undermine a free press?

Bolton said, “Of course not. Really honestly, Jonathan Honestly I think the question is silly. Don’t say I’m attacking freedom of the press. I just characterized your question.”

Karl asked, “OK, well, you were also scheduled to appear on CNN this morning, and the White House press secretary announced that your appearance would not go forward because a CNN reporter, quote, ‘disrespected the president and Prime Minister May at the joint press conference. Is it really appropriate to deny a news organization access to a White House official because a reporter tried to ask a question at a press conference?”

Bolton responded, “In reality, I don’t seek out the press, I don’t talk to them. I appear when I’m asked to, and if I’m not asked to appear, I don’t do it. And I don’t communicate with them either, as you could find out if you consulted your friends in the Washington press corps whom I don’t communicate with.”

More at the bottom as the conversation on the Russian policy continued, transcript via Real Clear Politics.

photo/ Gordon Johnson

JONATHAN KARL: OK. Let me ask you about what the president — the president’s characterization of the relationship with Russia. He said that Russia — that Putin is not an enemy, he is a competitor and he’s somebody that he hopes will be a friend. All of that may be true, but isn’t it also true that — that Putin — today’s Russia is an adversary of the United States?

BOLTON: Yes, there are certainly adversarial aspects of it. There’s no question about it. But you know, the phrase peer competitor has often been used to characterize U.S. relations with China, with Russia, with others. So I thought the president was — was on the mark there.

KARL: The president at his meeting with NATO said that the U.S. could go it alone or do our own thing if NATO allies don’t put more into the collective defense. Is it — would the president really consider withdrawing from NATO, withdrawing support from NATO if our allies don’t put in more?

BOLTON: Look, that — that — that’s not exactly what he said. I was there at every conversation he had in Brussels on the subject, and I heard him at length and I heard the allies respond to him. He made a very important point. NATO is a collective defense organization. To be strong together, all 29 allies have to pull their fair share of the burden. They acknowledge that.

They also acknowledge that they have not done so. And they acknowledge what I think is the most important point of all here, that President Trump, unlike any of his predecessors, has finally made this burden sharing issue something of an — of importance.

And the impromptu meeting that we had in Brussels last Thursday, the prime minister of one of the European countries said expressly, referring to President Obama, you know, he would come here and he’d say oh yes, we need your defense expenditures to equal two percent of GDP by 2024, ho hum and then he’d move on. I mean that was a recognition which I heard from other European leaders as well, that they knew President Obama was just going through the motions.

So of course, hearing the president of the United States just going through the motions, that’s how they responded. They’ve heard from President Trump he doesn’t want them to go through motions, he wants to live up to the commitment that they made.

And I think viewers need to understand is every NATO ally agreed that Cardiff, Wales in 2014 to hit the two percent target by 2024. Nobody has ever said that they didn’t reach it, they weren’t coerced by the United States to do that.

They agreed to it of their own free will, and they should live up to it. The United States and our tax payers should not be subsidizing European welfare states who are not willing to spend on their own defense.

I think the president’s right on the policy here.

About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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