As reported by Politico, The New York Times has responded to Donald Trump's recent mockery of one of its reporters who helped debunk the presidential candidate's false claim that he saw "thousands and thousands" of Arab-Americans cheering as the World Trade Center collapsed under the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Defending his claim at a campaign rally, Trump chose to mock the disability of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who covered the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and has recently added to the definitive debunking of the presidential candidate's smear. As reported by Politico, "'We think it's outrageous that he would ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters,' said a spokeswoman for the Times."
Trump can be seen mocking Kovaleski in this clip from Morning Joe:
During a defense of his widely debunked claim that thousands of people in parts of New Jersey with large Arab populations celebrated the collapse of the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001, Trump performed a derisive impression of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski -- who suffers from a chronic condition that has limited the movement of his arms -- at a rally in South Carolina on Tuesday night.
Citing a 2001 article written by Kovaleski that referred to people allegedly seen celebrating the attacks, Trump said it was "Written by a nice reporter."
Trump went on, "Now the poor guy -- you ought to see the guy: 'Uhh I don't know what I said. I don't remember.' He's going, 'I don't remember. Maybe that's what I said.'" As he spoke, Trump launched into an impression which involved gyrating his arms wildly and imitating the unusual angle at which Kovaleski's hand sometimes rests.
"We think it's outrageous that he would ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters," said a spokeswoman for the Times. The article cited by Trump was written by Kovaleski when he worked for The Washington Post and stated that in the aftermath of Sept. 11, "Law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river."
On Tuesday, after Trump's supporters began citing the article as evidence for the candidate's claim, Kovaleski told CNN, "We did a lot of shoe leather reporting in and around Jersey City and talked to a lot of residents and officials for the broader story. Much of that has, indeed, faded from memory ... I do not recall anyone saying there were thousands, or even hundreds, of people celebrating. That was not the case, as best as I can remember."
Kovaleski suffers from arthrogryposis, a congenital condition that limits the movement of the joints and weakens the muscles around them. As a reporter at the New York Daily News in the late 1980s and early '90s, he covered Trump's business exploits and met with the developer on several occasions.
On November 24, the editorial board of The New York Times called on the media to hold Trump accountable for his "racist lies," adding "[h]istory teaches that failing to hold a demagogue to account is a dangerous act. It's no easy task for journalists to interrupt Mr. Trump with the facts, but it's an important one."
Trump's actions are reminiscent of Rush Limbaugh's mockery of Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's in 2006. Limbaugh at the time accused the actor of "exaggerating the effects" of the disease in an ad, and later suggested that Fox had intentionally over-medicated himself "so you would really, really hate Republicans." Fox News host Sean Hannity defended Limbaugh, saying Fox "[has] a right to speak up, but he also has a right to be criticized. He is a guy that is very political."
After months of vilifying Black Lives Matter and labeling the movement a "hate group," Fox News devoted scant coverage to a November 23 mass shooting that injured five protesters at a Black Lives Matter vigil in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and similarly downplayed the subsequent arrests of three white suspects.
By contrast, CNN provided updates throughout the day following the shooting, and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow offered in-depth coverage of the escalating threats of violence leading up to the attack:
Five protesters suffered injuries when at least one person opened fire on a Black Lives Matter gathering outside the Minneapolis Police Department's 4th Precinct building on the evening of November 23. The Washington Post reported protesters had been "camping in front of the 4th Precinct since Nov. 15, when two Minneapolis police officers were involved in the contentious killing of 24-year-old Jamar Clark." As of November 24, "[t]he police said that they had arrested a 23-year-old white man, and that two other white men, ages 21 and 26, turned themselves in on Tuesday afternoon," according to The New York Times, which added, "[t]he police also said they were aware of a video in which masked men are seen driving to the protest site and brandishing a pistol, while making racist comments and justifying the killing of Jamar Clark." Social media posts of the three suspects "reveal a fascination with guns, video games, the Confederacy and right-wing militia groups," RawStory reported.
As the news of the shooting made national headlines and developments poured in on November 24, Fox News devoted the least amount of coverage to the incident among cable networks.
According to a Media Matters review, Fox only mentioned the Minneapolis shooting 3 times, with coverage totalling only 1 minute and 16 seconds. CNN covered the story for 10 minutes and 37 seconds throughout the day, while MSNBC covered the story for just over 12 minutes
The November 24 broadcast of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show devoted a full segment to the incident, placing the shooting in the recent context of masked "anti-protesters or counter-protesters, or maybe you'd call them provocateurs" turning up at local Black Lives Matter protests to videotape the gatherings. As host Rachel Maddow explained, demonstrators at the 4th Precinct faced racist intimidation and escalating threats of violence leading up to Monday's shooting.
The shooting follows months of Fox News attacks on the Black Lives Matter movement, including Fox hosts likening the movement to "the Nazi Party," and the "Klu Klux Klan," and a "hate group."
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly continued his attacks on Black Lives Matter during a panel on his show the day following the shooting. During the November 24 broadcast of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly said of the movement, "if black lives matter, how come this group isn't on the south side of Chicago when every weekend you've got a couple of dozen black lives lost," while a panelist claimed Black Lives Matter is "inciting violence to the point of hate crime."
During that segment, O'Reilly even alluded to the police shooting of Jamar Clark, but failed to acknowledge that five people protesting Clark's death had been shot the night before or that three suspects had been arrested.
Media Matters used Nexis and internal video archives to analyze news coverage of the shooting on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, using the search term "Minneapolis" from 6 a.m. EST through 12:00 a.m. EST on November 24. Media Matters did not include reruns in the time count of coverage.
Lis Power and Brendan Karet contributed research to this report.
A theological studies director is criticizing Fox News contributor and pastor Robert Jeffress for spreading anti-Muslim "hate speech" that's "abusing God's Word and violating its teaching."
During a November 15 sermon at First Baptist Church in Dallas, Jeffress told his congregation that the Paris terrorists were "acting according to the teaching of Islam," and said "it is time" to call out Islam as "a false religion ... inspired by Satan himself":
JEFFRESS: I believe it is time for us to lay aside political correctness and identify the belief system that is responsible for these horrific acts. And that is the evil, evil religion of radical Islam. That is the belief system that inspired this tragedy. And make no mistake about it. Islam is just not another way to approach God. Islam is a false religion and it is inspired by Satan himself, who Jesus said came to steal, kill, and destroy. And this weekend we saw the fruit of Satan's destruction in the acts of these terrorists. It is impossible to separate what these eight suicide bombers did from their faith, their religion that inspired them to do this. These terrorists were not acting in opposition to the teaching of Islam. They were acting according to the teaching of Islam.
Dr. Robert A Hunt, the director of Global Theological Education at Southern Methodist University, hit back at Jeffress for spreading anti-Muslim "fear and anxiety" through "hate speech." In a November 22 post headlined, "The Darkness in the Heart of Dallas," Hunt wrote that Jeffress "rather selectively quotes Jesus" and is "abusing God's Word" and railing "against Islam out of ignorance and fear" (emphasis in original):
My city, Dallas, wants to be something. It wants to be an international hub of commerce. It wants to be a cosmopolitan center for the cultivation and appreciation of the arts. It wants to be a place whose citizens or all races thrive, whose families are safe from violence, and whose children excel.
And this cannot happen yet. Because in the heart Dallas, in one of its biggest churches, pastors like Robert Jeffress (and others like him across the city) systematically attack the foundations of a diverse society by attacking its foundation of tolerance and respect for religious minorities.
Except this isn't really what is happening. What is happening at the heart of our city is that Christians are anxious and afraid and striking out blindly at what they believe threatens them. Jeffress and his people are grasping at every straw, even abusing God's Word and violating its teaching to justify their fear and anxiety and try to make sense of the world they live in.
When what they actually need is what we all need: the peace of Christ, and to get to know their neighbors so that they can love and respect them as children of God.
If Dallas is going to be the city it wants to be then Jeffress and his fellow pastors who rail against Islam out of ignorance and fear need to engage Muslims in dialogue and learn about the religion from its followers. Only then will they be able to show the kind of leadership our city so desperately needs.
Hunt wrote a November 24 follow-up post explaining why Jeffress' anti-Islam statements are hate speech, and concluding that there "cannot exist a civil society without civil dialogue among people of different religions":
Statements about religion are not opinions about something incidental to the identity of a group or individual. They are statements about the core of who that person is. All opinions have the potential to wound the feelings of another. You can hurt my feelings just by telling me that I'm fat, or bald and these things don't even touch my core identity. But what if you insult something that is essential to my identity like my ethnicity. That would be racism wouldn't it? That would be hateful. The same would be true if you insulted my nation, or my mother. Saying negative things about a person's religion are in the same category as disparaging his or her race, or parentage, or nationality. They are hateful, and are perceived as hateful, and cannot be defended against the charge of hate speech.
There cannot exist a civil society without civil dialogue among people of different religions. And there can be no civil dialogue when people of any religion denigrate the most closely held personal beliefs and values of their neighbors. Call Jeffress' words what you want, they undermine the social fabric of the city of Dallas and more broadly our state and nation. As do, I note, the words of numerous politicians both in office and aspiring to office. Hate speech is rapidly becoming the coin of the realm, and it is daily undermining the currency of reason, respect, and love.]
Jeffress is no stranger to incendiary remarks against those who don't follow his religious beliefs. He has called Catholicism a "cult-like, pagan religion," Mormonism a "cult" from the "pit of hell," and claimed followers of Judaism and Hinduism religions will be led to "an eternity of separation from God in Hell." Jeffress' fiery remarks have been rebuked by Republicans like Mitt Romney and Fox News contributor Karl Rove.
Despite his hate speech, Fox News employs Jeffress and hosts him for regular on-air appearances.
The anti-choice Center for Medical Progress (CMP) has released a string of deceptively-edited videos targeting Planned Parenthood with false allegations that the organization illegally profits from the sale of fetal tissue donations. Troy Newman, an anti-choice extremist with a history of violent rhetoric, serves as both president of Operation Rescue and board member for The Center for Medical Progress. During the November 24 edition of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, Rachel Maddow laid out the violence-endorsing history of Troy Newman, whose endorsement was touted by presidential candidate Ted Cruz which said in a press release "We need leaders like Troy Newman."
From the November 24 edition of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show:
The Shady Anti-Choice Actors Behind The Deceptive Video Accusing Planned Parenthood Of "Selling Aborted Baby Parts"
The Extreme And Violent Background Of The Group Consulting On The Anti-Planned Parenthood Videos
A Comprehensive Guide To The Deceptively-Edited Videos Used Against Planned Parenthood
Fox News host Megyn Kelly denounced the scene of a young African American protester standing in front of a police officer during a peaceful protest in Chicago following the announcement that police officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with the first-degree murder of an African American teen.
Protests erupted in Chicago following the release of a video showing the shooting death of 17 year old Laquan McDonald. Fox News covered the peaceful protest noting the silent protest of one young black man looking at a police officer. Fox's Megyn Kelly interrupted her show to comment on the protester, arguing that the protestor was not "appropriate," because the police officer "hasn't done anything wrong." From the November 24 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
MEGYN KELLY (HOST): I just want to jump in as we're seeing an extraordinary moment. Look what's happening here.
BERNARD KERIK: Listen, you're going to have guys like this. You know they want to instigate, they want to create a --
RICHARD FOWLER: What is he instigating? Bernie, I'm sorry I've got to interrupt.
KELLY: But Richard look at him. This is a cop out there accused of doing nothing wrong, trying to keep the peace.
FOWLER: This guy is having a silent protest with this police officer. This is his first amendment right.
KELLY: He gets right in his face and stares him down? This cop hasn't done anything wrong.
FOWLER: That is his first amendment right, Megyn.
KELLY: To get in a cops face and stare him down?
FOWLER: And you out of all people, Megyn, believe in protecting -- this is his first amendment right. I don't understand.
KELLY: You think that's fine? You have no problem with this?
FOWLER: This is his first amendment right. This biggest problem here is --
KELLY: It's not a question of what his constitutional rights are. It's a question of what's appropriate.
FOWLER: And I see nothing wrong with this.
A new study found that organizations funded by ExxonMobil and the oil billionaire Koch brothers may have played a key role in sowing doubt in the U.S. about climate change. These findings reveal how important it is for media to disclose the industry ties behind front groups that consistently misinform the public.
Over recent decades, the scientific consensus that fossil fuel emissions are driving global climate change has grown stronger, yet Americans have become increasingly divided on the issue along partisan lines. A new study, led by Yale University sociologist Justin Farrell, examined the "organizational and financial roots" behind this polarization and found that funding from ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers may have played a key role.
The study, published November 23 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), found that "organizations with corporate funding were more likely to have written and disseminated texts meant to polarize the climate change issue." It focused on organizations funded by ExxonMobil and the Koch family foundations, noting that those two funders had been previously "identified as especially influential," and that funding from these groups "signals entry into a powerful network of influence."
The study follows criticisms of Exxon Mobil for sowing doubt on climate change through its front groups despite its own scientists confirming the climate change consensus decades ago. New York's Attorney General is currently investigating whether Exxon deliberately misled the public about climate change, and more than 350,000 people recently signed a petition calling for a federal investigation of the company's climate misinformation campaign. Documents compiled by Greenpeace show that since 1998, Exxon has given over $30 million in funding to organizations "that work to spread climate denial."
According to the PNAS study, many of these groups' climate change positions were likely influenced by Exxon's funding; specifically, the study found that not only were these groups "more likely to have written and disseminated contrarian texts," but also that "corporate funding influences the actual language and thematic content of polarizing discourse."
The study detailed the "thematic content" touted by these organizations, which include many industry front groups, and found that fossil fuel-funded organizations more often discussed "temperature trends," "energy production," "the positive benefits of CO2," and "climate change being a long-term cycle" than organizations that did not receive industry funding:
Those deceptive "themes" have made frequent appearances in the media. "Temperature trends" have recently become a pervasive talking point, with much coverage devoted to a supposed 18-year "pause" in global warming (multiple studies confirm that this "pause" never happened, as the planet continues to warm). The false talking point that carbon dioxide emissions could have positive impacts has been touted by Marc Morano -- who is paid by industry-funded Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow to run a climate denial blog -- and has also made its way onto Fox News, and, most alarmingly, into California textbooks. And the misleading emphasis on "climate change being a long-term cycle" is a frequent soundbite on Fox News and other conservative media outlets, even though the science shows that the global climate is currently experiencing a significant shift that award-winning astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says "the Earth hasn't seen since the great climate catastrophes in the past."
Yet, as study author Farrell told The Washington Post, "contrarian efforts have been so effective for the fact that they have made it difficult for ordinary Americans to even know who to trust."
Farrell's study suggests that fossil fuel industry front groups' efforts to polarize the climate change debate may have been intended to delay climate action, stating in its discussion: "It is well understood that polarization is an effective strategy for creating controversy and delaying policy progress, especially around environmental issues."
As Media Matters has documented, many groups funded by ExxonMobil and the Kochs have pervaded mainstream media to fight against environmental protections. It is essential that reporters, at the very least, disclose the industry funding behind them -- or better yet, think twice before providing such a wide platform for corporate interests to stymie progress on climate change.
Image via Creative Commons courtesy of Flickr user CGP Grey.
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is asking supporters for money so he can put Rush Limbaugh's praise of him "in front of millions of Republican primary voters."
During the November 22 edition of Fox News Sunday, Limbaugh was asked for his opinion about the Texas senator. He replied: "Brilliant, just absolutely brilliant. And conservative through and through. Trustworthy, strong, confident, leader, and somebody in whom you can totally depend."
Cruz sent a fundraising email to supporters today touting Limbaugh's praise and asking for money so he can get his remarks out to voters. From Cruz's email:
Nationally renowned radio host Rush Limbaugh just made a huge move of support for my campaign...even going as far as to defend me on national television!
I can't thank Rush enough for his supportive comments.
Rush defended me against the mainstream media -- will you help me get Rush's defense in front of millions of Republican primary voters in the next seven days by making a EMERGENCY contribution today?
Limbaugh has repeatedly praised Cruz, both before and after he launched his presidential campaign, even once suggesting he "might be the smartest man in Congress." Cruz recently lobbied for a Republican presidential debate "moderated by Sean Hannity and Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh."
Cruz has also drawn recent praise from right-wing figures like Fox's Sean Hannity, radio host Mark Levin, Iowa pundit Steve Deace, gun activist Larry Pratt, Texas-based radio host Michael Berry, and anti-choice extremist Troy Newman, among others.
A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that the "most avid conservative talk-radio listeners ranked retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson as their top pick, followed by celebrity businessman Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Just 3% gave the nod to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush."
Fox & Friends presented emerging smart gun technology as "fascinating," reliable, and not vulnerable to hacking in a segment that highlighted a shotgun that can only be fired by an authorized user who wears a special ring.
The National Rifle Association claims that it does not oppose the development of smart gun technology, but in practice it often raises unfounded concerns that the technology is unreliable or could be disabled by hackers. The NRA has also promoted the conspiracy theory that the government could use the technology to take control of private firearms to implement a de facto ban on gun ownership.
A November 24 segment on Fox & Friends featured an interview with Jonathan Mossberg, the inventor of a "Magnetic Tag-enabled shotgun," that debunked these myths.
According to Mossberg's website, authorized users for the firearm wear a ring and "when the ring comes in close range to the normal ring-finger placement on the firearm's stock, the iGun compares a unique code from the ring to the gun to see if there is a match. If the code matches, the trigger unlocks" and the gun can be fired.
Proponents of smart guns promote the technology as a way to prevent unauthorized users -- such as children or someone trying to access a law enforcement officer's gun -- from accessing a weapon.
A segment on the November 24 broadcast of Fox & Friends opened by comparing smart gun technology with something that might be seen in a James Bond movie. Fox News "CyberGuy" Kurt Knutsson participated in a demonstration of the technology with Mossberg and concluded, "I tested it out, I can tell you right now that guns are about to become a lot like an iPhone where you could just simply use your fingerprint to open a gun, or even in this case you use a ring."
During the demonstration Knutsson attempted to fire Mossberg's shotgun, but was unable to do so. He then passed the firearm to Mossberg, who was able to fire the gun instantly because he was wearing a ring for an authorized user.
After the demonstration, Mossberg explained that people who oppose the technology are "people that jump to conclusions, that don't do homework, and don't do research are against it. You may not want to buy one. That's fine. But don't be against it."
Mossberg's explanation of the unfounded reasons people oppose smart gun technology sounds like a summation of the attacks on the technology from the NRA's media arm, NRA News. (Interestingly, Mossberg's family operates O.F. Mossberg & Sons, a sponsor of the NRA News web series Noir.)
In contrast to the successful demonstration of the technology on Fox News, the NRA's radio show, Cam & Company has spread false information about the failure rate of the technology, featured content suggesting smart guns are a "dumb idea" and that "gun owners won't trust an electronic firearm to save the day," and hosted guests to claim the technology doesn't work. The NRA's online magazine America's 1st Freedom has endlessly criticized smart gun technology, recently describing it as "floundering."
These attacks are baseless -- market-ready smart guns have a similar mechanical failure rate compared to firearms that do not have the technology.
The Fox & Friends segment also addressed claims that the technology could be hacked by criminals or by the government for nefarious purposes. Knutsson explained, "The fact is, this particular technology right here, 15 million combinations to that ring is what it would take to hack through it."
"The people who hate technology, smart guns, they think that big bad government can shut my guns down. Mine does not work on WiFi, mine does not work on any signal other than this far apart," added Mossberg, demonstrating the distance between his thumb and index finger.
NRA News has promoted the type of conspiratorial claims described by Mossberg. In April 2014, conservative media distorted comments made by then-Attorney General Eric Holder about smart gun technology similar to Mossberg's -- it would use a bracelet rather than a ring -- to claim that the government wanted to track gun owners using the technology. Conservative media falsely claimed Holder promoted "tracking" bracelets, when instead the purpose of the bracelet Holder discussed was to send a signal to the firearm authorizing its use.
Despite being a complete distortion of what Holder said, NRA News hosted multiple guests to push the conspiracy theory, with one guest claiming, "For some reason they feel like they need to keep an eye on where your gun is and where my gun is, and Eric Holder can do pretty much whatever he wants with government funds."
The NRA's publication American Rifleman also promoted the conspiracy theory that "a criminal, a hacker or even a government agency could turn your gun on or off anytime they wanted" if smart gun technology was adopted. The author of the article appeared on NRA News to claim the technology could be hijacked by "politicians, let's be frank, who would just as soon ban all handguns."
During the Fox & Friends segment, Mossberg and Kilmeade both expressed opposition to legislation that would mandate the adoption of the technology, which is in line with the NRA's position, but nonetheless Kilmeade concluded the segment by describing Mossberg's invention as "fascinating."
Fox & Friends' treatment of smart gun technology stands in sharp contrast to previous coverage of the technology on Fox & Friends; the show was one of many conservative media outlets to push the conspiracy theory about Holder and "gun tracking bracelets."
Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer swiftly interrupted and dismissed his guest, political consultant Mathew Littman, for stating that in recent years mass shootings and gun violence generally have posed a bigger threat to Americans than terror attacked planned abroad. During a segment critical of the Obama administration's handling of ISIS and plans to accept Syrian refugees, Littman argued that the gun issue in America was a larger area of concern, noting, "You have issues like ... Twenty kids being killed in Newtown and the gun issues in this country," causing Hemmer to question the relevancy of Littman's answer. However, multiple sources -- such as Politifact, Vox, and NBC News -- have demonstrated the number of gun deaths in the U.S. greatly outnumber the casualties from terror attacks, even when including the 9/11 attacks. NBC News reported that an estimated 153,144 Americans were killed in gun murders between 2001 and 2013 compared to 3,046 Americans killed in terrorist attacks during the same time period. From the November 24 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
BILL HEMMER: The overall question that [Bill] O'Reilly raises, though, that the American people don't trust the president on security, what do you think of that?
MATHEW LITTMAN: Well, I think that we're doing -- the ISIS situation is obviously amazingly complicated. In terms of the territory ISIS has, we've been doing a pretty good job of rolling back that territory, obviously need to do more. On domestic -- on security here, we have had a bit of a problem with domestic terrorists, not refugees, but domestic terrorists since 2001. That seems to be where the issue lies in this country. And obviously we need to be doing more about that. You have issues like 30 people being shot in Newtown. Twenty kids being killed in Newtown and the gun issues in this country--
HEMMER: What's that got to do with terrorism overseas and refugees at home?
LITTMAN: Well, what it has to do with is we're worried about what's happening here, Bill. That's what we're talking about. And the gun violence in this country is a very important issue.
On November 24, CNN's Chris Cuomo interviewed Trump Organization executive and Trump campaign surrogate Michael Cohen regarding Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump's false claim that "thousands" of Arab-Americans cheered in the streets following the 9/11 attacks and the candidate's seeming endorsement of the alleged assault of a protester who disrupted a recent campaign rally. Trump's claim that "thousands" of people took to the streets in Jersey City, New Jersey to celebrate the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks has been debunked and widely criticized. PolitiFact tore apart Trump's statement, saying that it "defies basic logic," and that "[i]f thousands and thousands of people were celebrating the 9/11 attacks on American soil, many people beyond Trump would remember it. And in the 21st century, there would be video or visual evidence." From the November 24 edition of CNN's New Day:
CHRIS CUOMO (HOST): Let's take these one by one. 9/11 happens. Horrible by anybody's reckoning. The idea of celebrating that is inhumane. Donald Trump says he saw it. He believed it. Thousands and thousands. People say no, it's not true. He says, yes it is. Why make a point of something like this?
MICHAEL COHEN: Well, I think what he's doing is he's comparing it now to what-- the terrible tragedy that took place in Paris and what's going on all around the world with ISIS. They are really a group of thugs. They are terrorists. And they're changing the way the world sees Islam.
CUOMO: Bad guys. Anybody who would celebrate something like that, no matter what their faith is, bad people. But, why exaggerate it? Why say --
COHEN: Well why would you that say he's exaggerating it?
CUOMO: Because he said "thousands and thousands."
COHEN: You know, whether it's "thousands and thousands" or a thousand people or even just one person, it's irrelevant. To celebrate this tragedy, this killing of innocent people, that went to what? To work, right? Trying to enjoy the American dream to earn a dollar. It's wrong and Mr. Trump is making his point. Now, many people have criticized and said well, it's not true. It didn't happen. Washington Post, on September 18th of 2001, did a pretty in-depth story on this exact position and they acknowledge -- Mr. Trump also has millions and millions of followers, as you know, on social media. I can't tell you the number of people that have responded and said I'm from Jersey and I've seen it.
CUOMO: Yes, here's the thing. I know other people have said it. They say it to me on social media. One, that Washington Post article, that was one paragraph in the whole story, the author walked it back, they said the FBI investigated allegations of it, they never substantiated a claim of thousands. The reason it's relevant is the guy may be president of the United States and what Donald Trump says has to be as accurate as it can be, and thousands and thousands is, at best, a gross exaggeration. And if you're going to be president of the United States, don't you have to say it right?
COHEN: The exact number, I don't think anybody can say. If Mr. Trump said thousands, I have to --
CUOMO: "Thousands and thousands."
COHEN: And I would have to turn around and say that he's probably right.
CUOMO: Probably right?
COHEN: He's probably right.
CUOMO: No, he's probably wrong.
COHEN: No, he's probably right.
CUOMO: There is no way to substantiate "thousands and thousands."
COHEN: And there's no way to say that it wasn't there. The problem that you have --
CUOMO: Sure there is. They don't have the reports. They don't have any video.
Later in the segment, Cuomo asked Cohen about an incident at a Trump campaign rally in Birmingham, Alabama where a Black Lives Matter protester was allegedly attacked by Trump supporters. A day after the altercation, Trump was interviewed on Fox News' Fox & Friends and attempted to justify his supporters' reaction to the protester, saying "maybe he should have been roughed up." From the November 24 edition of CNN's New Day:
CUOMO: Another point of this that became a flash point, and it's always great to get your head on it, is this guy comes, he protests at the event. Nobody likes when that happens, but that's part of the process, right? He gets beat down at the event. Donald Trump says well, maybe he deserved it? He was doing something terrible --
COHEN: The guy's a professional agitator. Supposedly -- rumors are out there -- of course the internet and social media, the guy's been tazed, what? 30 times. He goes to these various different rallies and he creates all sorts of problems. You know what? It happened. Obviously, nobody wants to see anybody get injured. Nobody wants to see --
CUOMO: That's not what he said, he said "maybe he deserved it."
COHEN: Well, maybe he did. Maybe he did. He went there to cause a problem. He went there to start a fight. This is nothing to do with Black Lives Matter. This is a guy that's looking for media attention on his own.
CUOMO: I haven't even said the phrase. I'm saying white, black, green, yellow, the guy comes to your event and gets beat up. You should be against the people that beat him up.
COHEN: I agree, nobody wants to see anybody get beaten up. But if the guy goes there for the purpose of creating an issue, he wants to be an agitator at what was a great, you know, great event for Mr. Trump, 14,000 plus people, you know what? That's between the individual who wants to be an agitator and the people that are there to listen to Mr. Trump and to try to see America become great again.
CUOMO: What about their leader? Doesn't he want to inspire people to be their best selves? Or does he want to inspire them to be like whatever the worst agitator that they have come at him?
COHEN: You know what? The guy's an agitator, the guy's looking for a problem. It's like the guy who walks into a bar and he wants to start a fight with somebody and he ends up getting beaten up. You know what --
CUOMO: And as a bartender, you know what I used to do? I used to be like "whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa. Take him outside. Keep your hands off him."
COHEN: Beat him up outside?
CUOMO: No, because you want people to be better than what's coming at them.
COHEN: Well, every now and then an agitator deserves it.