CNN’s Jake Tapper shut down a long, fiery interview with Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh, abruptly signing off with an allusion to the president’s incessant, chaotic interruptions at the first presidential debate: “You know what, I’m not Chris Wallace. Thank you, Tim.”
Tapper began his Wednesday afternoon show by revisiting the aftermath of the debate, which had achieved universally horrific reviews, among them a “shit show” and “the worst presidential debate I have ever seen” by various pundits. Tapper himself colorfully panned the event, which was marked by Donald Trump’s repeated heckling of both Joe Biden and Fox News moderator Chris Wallace, as “a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside of a train wreck.”
In their initial discussion, Murtaugh fired back at the Commission on Presidential Debates for announcing on Wednesday that it would institute new, tougher rules of engagement — including cutting candidates’ microphones —after Trump’s willful disregard for them Tuesday night.
“Sure, the bipartisan commission is riding to the rescue of their guy,” Murtaugh said, baselessly claiming the CPD was biased for Biden. “The president was a dominant force last night, and he did pummel Joe Biden. And I would point out that Joe Biden interrupted the president more than 70 times as well, Jake. And so what they’re doing, the Biden people have clearly been working the rest and now they’re going to change the rules in the middle of the game. But the fact is the president will be there.”
The CPD includes both Republicans and Democrats, Tapper quickly noted.”You’re saying that the chairman, the Republican chairman wants Biden to win? Are you really saying that?”
“I think what you see is that this is a reaction to the fact that Joe Biden didn’t have a very good night last night,” Murtaugh said, not answering the question. “And so then on the morning after to talk about changing the rules because the debate was such a disaster for one candidate, I think it’s pretty obvious which way the field is tilted.”
The CNN host countered that claim by pointing out all of the post-debate polls, showed Murtaugh’s boss lost the debate, including a CNN poll, which showed Biden trouncing Trump, and a CBS News instant survey showed a narrower victory for the Democratic challenger.
“Well, there are other polls, Telemundo had a poll…” Murtaugh began, referencing a non-scientific online poll.
“That’s not a real poll, it’s not a methodical poll.” Tapper broke in to reiterate before referencing a post-debate criticism from former GOP Senator Rick Santorum. “[He] said that if he were a down-ballot Republican running for office this year he would be, quote, ‘pretty mad’ at the president for indulging them to their detriment. What’s your response to these Republican critics?”
“The president went in with a very clear plan,” Murtaugh said, “and he executed that plan very well. He was aggressive.” Murtaugh then embarked a long rant accusing Wallace of interfering with Trump’s plan to “rescue” Biden, who at times was rendered inaudible as the president constantly talked over him.
“Tim, the way that this works is I ask a question and you answer, not I ask a question and you talk for 10 minutes,” Tapper said, finally getting a word in edgewise to reference perhaps the biggest, most incendiary moment of the night. “President Trump was asked if he condemns white supremacists, the white supremacists who support him, he declined to say that he didn’t want their support. He started talking about…”
“No, I didn’t. I just heard the tape you just played it,” Murtaugh insisted.
“We just played the whole thing. He was asked ‘Eo you welcome the support of white supremacists who love you?’ He started talking about law and order. Then pressed he said he denounces, quote, ‘any form of any of that.’ Why is it so difficult for President Trump to say ‘I condemn white supremacy, I do not want the support of white supremacists?’ Why is that so difficult for this president?
“It’s not difficult and he has done it many, many times,” Murtaugh said. “At a certain point the media has to accept yes for an answer, Jake.”
Tapper and Murtaugh then clashed over and over, breaking into each other’s remarks. When Tapper conducted yet another analysis of Trump’s “very fine people” comments after the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville in 2017, Murtaugh shot back: “I’m not going to relitigate.”
“Right,” Tapper hit back, “because there were none. That’s the point.”
That prompted Murtaugh to launch into a long harangue about Biden’s record on racial issues in the 1970s, during which he refused to concede any airtime to the CNN host.
“Okay, you know what,” a visibly frustrated Tapper finally said, shuffling his interview notes with a grimace on his face. “I’m not Chris Wallace.”
And with the sarcasm in his voice plainly evident, Tapper slammed shut the door: “Thank you, Tim! Appreciate it. Thank you so much”
Watch the video above, via CNN.
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