‘We Got Played’: CNN Goes Off On Trump’s ‘Rick Roll’ After Birther Debacle

Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

After Donald Trump spent a mere 30 seconds addressing President Obama’s birthplace during a 30-minute event that started an hour late at his new hotel in Washington, D.C., the anchors at CNN tore into Trump and his attitude toward the press.

Throughout Trump’s event and after he finally addressed his efforts to fuel the birther movement, the hosts and reporters at CNN called out the Trump campaign for misleading the press and using the event to promote his new hotel.

As Trump let several veterans and military officials express their support for him, CNN anchor Kate Bolduan lamented that the network had been waiting 20 minutes for Trump to make the big announcement that his campaign had been promising. Co-anchor John Berman chimed in to complain about the confusing signals the press had received from the Trump campaign about the event.

“To be clear, we have been told this event would be an event where Donald Trump would address his past trafficking in the birther issue, the notion that President Obama was not born in the United States,” Berman said. “He opened the event making a plug for his hotel, it is a new hotel, so in a sense, you could say he was leveraging five years of birther conspiracy to promote his hotel.”

Jake Tapper jumped in to complain that while the military heroes endorsing Trump deserve respect, “It’s hard to imagine this as anything other than a political Rick Roll.”

(The term “Rick Roll” refers to an Internet bait-and-switch-meme in which a link promising something of note goes to a video of the Rick Astley song “Never Gonna Give You Up.”)

“They told us something was going to happen and it’s not happening,” Tapper said.

After Trump finally made his brief statement — in which he also blamed the birther movement on Hillary Clinton, a narrative that has been debunked — Bolduan again noted how frustrating the event was to cover.

“That was it. That was it,” she said. “This started at 11:04. And at 11:30 he came back to the microphone.”

CNN then brought on John King, who trashed the way Trump maneuvered the press.

“So I really don’t quite know what to make of that except for that we got played again by the Trump campaign, which is what they do. He got a live event broadcast for, what, 20 something minutes,” King said. “We just got played.”

“There you got after, what, four or five years of leading a fraudulent, reckless campaign against the legitimacy of the United States President, you got about, what, six or seven words from Donald Trump saying he’s decided it’s over. I guess he gets to decide that,” he added.

CNN’s Dana Bash also complained about how the press was treated by Trump.

“What they did was tease us that he was going to say something, then as John said, played us by making sure that everybody who has an ability to show Donald Trump actually took 20 minutes, or got 20 minutes, of very important decorated veterans praising somebody who they think should be the next commander-in-chief, which would not have been live on cable news otherwise,” she said.

CNN reporters also noted that the Trump campaign broke press pool rules after Trump made his statement. He only brought cameras with him on a tour of the Trump hotel, which kept reporters from asking him follow-up questions.

In the next hour on the network, host Ashleigh Banfield continued to bash Trump’s event, drawing comparisons to the way foreign dictators treat the press. She noted that Trump’s brief comments on his birtherism came just one day after he gloated that reporters on his press plane were delayed and unable to fully cover his rally.

“I can tell you, having covered a couple of dictators in my life in other countries, covering those campaigns is a bummer, because they don’t let you ask questions either. So that’s why the American press, love them or hate them, are critical to this democracy,” she said. “You have to be able to ask people questions if they’re going to lead you, and if they’re going to get your guns, your military, your nuclear codes. You have to be able to get to ask them questions.”

“Either you have a media or you have what I witnessed in Saddam’s era,” she later added.

Latest Livewire
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: