CNN host Chris Cuomo on Monday engaged in a minutes-long heated debate with Kellyanne Conway, President-elect Donald Trump’s top counselor, over Trump’s mockery of a disabled New York Times reporter.
At Sunday’s Golden Globes, Meryl Streep slammed the president-elect’s 2015 mocking of disabled New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski.
Conway appeared on CNN to criticize the actress’ speech, asking why Streep didn’t instead speak about a recent headline-grabbing assault on a mentally disabled man in Chicago.
“Why didn’t she use the platform to talk about the mentally challenged boy last week who was tortured on a Facebook livestream by four young African-American adults in Chicago screaming racial expletives?” Conway asked.
Cuomo dismissed the Chicago attackers as “haters,” and noted that Streep likely decided to speak out about Trump because “one of [the acts] was done by a bunch of miscreants and the other was done by the president-elect of the United States.”
The CNN anchor then asked Conway why Trump never apologized for mocking Kovaleski, one of the most notable moments in the 2016 presidential campaign that was played numerous times in anti-Trump attack ads.
“All Donald Trump then and President-elect Trump now needed to do is say ‘Hey, look: Making that gesture about Serge was wrong, and I apologize.’ And it would’ve been over. Instead there are these tortured attempts to say ‘On no no, I had nothing to do with Serge,’” Cuomo said.
Conway continued to deny that Trump mocked the reporter for his disability — a claim that Trump himself repeated on Monday — then argued that politics should be left out of the Golden Globes altogether.
“When you tune into the Golden Globes award show — is it always appropriate to talk politics? They can say what they want, but then they have to be held to account. Look, that is a very myopic place. That place, this network, frankly, all believed the election would turn out a different way,” Conway said.
After Cuomo urged Conway to look at the video, the Trump counselor attempted to tie Cuomo’s line of questioning to the 2016 election outcome.
“Why can’t you give him the benefit of the doubt, the way the benefit of the doubt was given to CNN polling, all of its analysts, all of the people in the world saying he couldn’t even win?” Conway asked.
“Because he’s making a disgusting gesture on video talking about Serge,” Cuomo replied. “He’s doing a gesture that goes straight to the guy’s vulnerability.”
“You should give him the deference and respect — if he said he was not mocking, he was mocking the groveling,” Conway quipped. “You’re saying you don’t believe him. You’re calling him a liar and you shouldn’t.”
“You’re trying to scare me off the point, and we both know that’s a waste of time. He’s making a gesture that’s so keenly tuned to what his vulnerability is,” Cuomo fired back.
The two continued to debate before Conway buttoned the conversation.
“You can’t give him the benefit of the doubt on this?” Conway asked. “And he’s telling you what’s in his heart. You always want to go by what’s come out of his mouth rather than look at what’s in his heart.”
Watch part of the exchange below, via CNN:
“Why can’t you give him the benefit of the doubt?” Kellyanne Conway says Trump wasn’t mocking reporter’s disability. https://t.co/3LAWwTIME4
— New Day (@NewDay) January 9, 2017