As President Donald Trump eagerly escaped Washington, D.C., on a plane to France on Wednesday night, he left his deputy assistant Sebastian Lukacs v. Gorka to push his “fake news” message in an unusually contentious interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN.
Over and over again, Gorka refused to answer Cooper’s questions about the current state of the Trump White House amid the fallout from revelations about Donald Trump Jr.’s possible colusion with Russian state actors during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Gorka called the idea that there is a “bunker mentality” or “crisis” in the White House “laughable,” calmly stating: “We are pushing the Make America Great Again agenda. The president is a steam locomotive that will not be stopped. It’s just fake news. I’m sad to see CNN fall to this. I know you want salacious, sensational coverage for your ratings, so your corporate sponsors and owners will have more money. But that’s not media, that’s not reportage, it’s just fake news.”
“I’m just going to ignore the insults, because I don’t think it gets us anywhere,” Cooper replied, attempting to move on to a discussion about the president’s claims that any media report that contains anonymous sourcing is fake news. “I’m wondering how the president can make that claim when all the reporting by The New York Times about the meeting his son held with the Russian attorney have been proven by his son’s own emails,” Cooper said, “which he only released after the Times was going to publish the contents of them.”
Instead of responding to the question, Gorka cited an unrelated instance in which CNN got some reporting wrong that was based on anonymous sources. Pressed by Cooper on whether he denies that the Times’ reporting in this case was accurate, Gorka said, “No, I deny the fact that there’s anything here that’s untoward.” But he would not break with the president’s “fake news” assertion, saying, “I stand by what the president and his son said. We are incredibly impressed by Don Jr.’s transparency and the fact that he actually published these emails.”
Gorka also refused to acknowledge that Donald Trump Jr.’s explanation for why he took the meeting with the Russian lawyer evolved repeatedly over the past several days as the Times reported more facts about it. At first, he said it was only about adoption issues and only later admitted that the pretext for the meeting was allegedly damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
Finally, when Cooper cornered him on this point, Gorka pivoted, saying, “I thought we were going to talk about real issues, like what we’re doing with our allies in France.” He then began ridiculing CNN’s ratings, trotting out a popular talking point of late that, by one measure, they are behind Nick at Nite.
“I think it’s funny that you have enough time at the White House, in which you are apparently so busy, that you sit around and read Nielsen numbers,” Cooper shot back.
It seems that Trump isn’t the only one in the White House obsessed with cable news ratings.