Back in July 2018, President Donald Trump infamously told a VFW gathering not to believe what they witness. Trump said:
"Just remember: What you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening."
The President's Director of the National Economic Council (NEC)—former CNBC host Larry Kudlow—had a similar moment in a live interview with CNN's Brianna Keilar on Sunday morning's State of the Union show.
When asked about remarks made by world leaders on camera during a meeting at the G-7 summit, Kudlow denied what had just been shown actually happened.
United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson criticized Trump's escalating trade war with China, saying, "We don't like tariffs on the whole." Trump has frequently been a proponent of his tariffs on Chinese imports, falsely claiming that China pays them, rather than American manufacturers and, subsequently, American consumers.
This is deeply bizarre -- after CNN plays Larry Kudlow video of Boris Johnson saying "we don't like tariffs on the… https://t.co/noGs9uCt7N— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1566754650.0
“The President’s been getting a lot of pushback on his trade war. The EU leader, Donald Tusk, warned that this would ‘lead to a recession.’ Macron says it is ‘bad for everyone.’ And even his closest ally at the G7, the new UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said… ‘We don’t like tariffs on the whole'.”
Keilar's statements were backed by video and audio footage. But Kudlow said in response:
"Well, look, yes, I’m not sure I agree how you portrayed that, to be honest. I was in that meeting on the economy and trade."
CNN's Keilar said:
"What do you mean? It was a—that’s a quote.”
After Kudlow fumbled a bit longer trying to rewrite the meaning of direct quotes, Keilar interjected;
"Larry, what’s out of context? Because we just rolled video. I mean, what is out of context with that quote?"
Kudlow then tried to claim his presence at the meeting trumped reality.
“I was there. I heard every single one of those leaders agree that China has exercised continuous debilitating and destabilizing unfair trading practices. Every single one of those leaders said that."
But none apparently said it on camera or in associated interviews. Kudlow went on with:
"And they expressed support for President Trump, who is leading the way to try to get China to make changes."
Kudlow again tried to make the case that his presence at the meeting changed actual statements other G-7 world leaders made on camera at the meeting.
"I was in that room. And so that’s why I’m saying what you may have said—and I don’t know where these guys said that—is out of context."
Keilar was undeterred. Armed with the G-7 leaders' own words, she responded:.
“Look, I just have to take issue with that, Larry. You cannot deny that they do not like how this is being operated.”
Kudlow then claimed everything was "out of context.”
Keilar asked again how Kudlow could deny actual video and audio footage:
"That’s in the meeting, Larry. Larry, those words came out of Boris Johnson’s mouth… How do you argue with that?"
Kudlow tried to dodge the question:
"Actually, you want to know the truth, Brianna—I know you will probably not agree—my view was, the meeting this morning, in fact, the whole conference, including the unexpected luncheon between President Trump and President Macron, has gone very well, better than we thought, with a very positive vibe."
But Keilar answered:
"I just want to be clear, that was video of Boris Johnson speaking in that very meeting. I just want to be very clear about that."
But this was not the only time Kudlow denied reality Sunday morning. Keilar's first question to Trump's NEC director regarded an answer President Trump also gave on camera.
Watch Trump answer the question about his China tariffs and second thoughts on his escalating trade war.
REPORTER: Any second thoughts about escalating trade war with China? TRUMP: "Yeah. Sure. Why not? ... I have secon… https://t.co/DR8pkEDrKH— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1566749852.0
Trump clearly answered the question about escalating his trade war with China saying:
"Yeah, sure. Why not? I have second thoughts about everything."
But not according to Kudlow.
The NEC director first told Keilar:
"Well, look, if I can reinterpret that, I mean, he spoke to us. He didn’t exactly hear the question."
Kudlow then added what he claimed Trump really meant even though nothing said by the President on camera reflected it.
"Actually, what he was intending to say is, he always has second thoughts, and he actually had second thoughts about possibly a higher tariff response to China. So, it was not to remove the tariff. He was thinking about a higher tariff response."
Keilar requested clarification of Kudlow's version of events.
"I just want to be clear on this. So, Trump has thought that he might want to increase the tariffs, but he isn’t actually going to increase the tariffs, beyond what he initially did?"
Kudlow concurred with this revised version.
“That is correct. At the moment, that is absolutely correct."
Then Kudlow claimed to know the President's thoughts and that Trump's quoted on-air response to the specific question was misinterpreted.
"That was his thought. It somehow got misinterpreted. I’m not sure he heard the question altogether. It was a very crowded room. I was there. But, yes, his thought was, perhaps he needed to go higher."
But Keilar came back with another Trump quote.
"He also said he’s no longer planning on forcing U.S. businesses to leave China. So, it does seem as if he is softening on this issue broadly."
Undeterred by video and audio footage and Twitter posts, Kudlow disputed well documented facts again.
"No, he didn’t order. He did not order the businesses."
But even Kudlow could not completely deny reality.
"I know he said, ‘I hereby order.’ But what he said to them, in effect, was that you begin to look or you begin to search for ways to move out of China."
Watch extended footage of the CNN State of the Union interview here.
.@brikeilarcnn presses White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on world leaders pushing back on President Trump’s… https://t.co/4MuUoJLnGB— State of the Union (@State of the Union) 1566740854.0
People were largely unsurprised by a Trump administration official's reliance on "alternative facts."
Counsel to the President Kellyanne Conway first coined the term for lies the Trump administration was caught telling.
@CNNSotu @brikeilarcnn I like his voice is getting higher and he's getting frustrated and he should just gotten off… https://t.co/fU5JjHcE00— gvivaldi (@gvivaldi) 1566749771.0
@atrupar @gtconway3d Perhaps the Chosen One's administration will implode into a black hole of non reality.— MaterialMat[REDACTED] (@MaterialMat[REDACTED]) 1566762101.0
@MM2LLC @atrupar @gtconway3d Trump is deeply in that black hole of non-reality.— Areva (@Areva) 1566764068.0
And many likened the interview to Trump's own denials of reality.
@atrupar Kudlow is pulling a Trump technique there: "The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ea… https://t.co/pO26rnbYed— Dr. Jack Brown (@Dr. Jack Brown) 1566761817.0
@CNNSotu @brikeilarcnn Great job pushing back on this lying administration Brianna!!— Cpuck5 (@Cpuck5) 1566749703.0
@CNNSotu @brikeilarcnn Remember in the world of Trump, "Don't believe what you're seeing" "Truth is not truth" "Alt… https://t.co/6uOX39KXct— DA Conrad (@DA Conrad) 1566761441.0
It is difficult to have constructive discussions with people who work from a basis of alternative facts and denial of solid evidence.
Listen to the first episode of George Takei's podcast, 'Oh Myyy Pod!', where we explore the racially charged videos that have taken the internet by storm.
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