On Monday's Amanpour & Co. on PBS and CNN International, host Christiane Amanpour gave former California Democratic Governor Jerry Brown an unchallenged forum to bash President Donald Trump over sending federal agents to quell rioting in Portland, and even cued him up to fearmonger that the President is "authoritarian."
After Amanpour asked for her liberal guest's reaction to President Trump sending federal agents to Portland, and the possiblity of sending them to other cities against the wishes of Democratic mayors, Brown tore into the President, calling him "bizarre" and "deviant."
Then, after surprisingly admitting that there are hundreds of "anarchists" in Oakland (where he used to be mayor) who are prone to destroying property, including through arson, he argued that local police should handle it, and then suggested that the President was sending the "Army" or "some other militia equivalent," even though the issue is about the use of federal law enforcement officers, not the military.
Brown concluded his liberal commentary by invoking authoritarian actions in Eastern Europe, and Amanpour followed up by only mildly pushing back as she wondered if Democratic mayors are more interested in federal help than they are letting on, but also whether the President is engaged in "an election ploy." Here's Amanpour:
Do you think it is an election ploy, as some have suggested? Or do you think in some of these places -- like, for instance, Portland has declared a state of riot now -- do you think some of these places want these federal forces? Or do you think it is just an election ploy on behalf of the President?
After Brown called it a "political ploy" and complained that President Richard Nixon "played it like a violin" to get elected in 1968 during a time of rioting, Amanpour again made no attempt to balance his liberal commentary against President Trump as she followed up: "Governor, you said that Richard Nixon played the law enforcement card, and he won. Do you think President Trump will win?"
The only significant challenge she gave toward her Democratic guest was to ask him about reports that he "defunded" programs for keeping an adequate supply of medical supplies that had been left when former Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar, which Brown denied.
Nearing the end of the interview, Amanpour brought up anti-Trump Republicans like former Maine Senator William Cohen who have fearmongered about the President pushing for "authoritarian" rule in the U.S. After playing a clip of Cohen from one of her recent shows, she posed:
AMANPOUR: He's talking about all sorts of foreign dictators and authoritarian leaders, and what's happening in the U.S. is being watched here overseas very carefully and with a degree of shock. Do you share his concern that it's really serious and that this idea of authoritarianism or chipping away at the fundamentals of democracy is possible in a country like the United States?
She ended the segment by asking her liberal guest whether he believed Joe Biden would be able to successfully reverse President Trump's environmental deregulation if the Democrat were elected President.
This episode of Amanpour & Co. was sponsored by the Anderson Family Fund and the Straus Family Foundation. You can fight back by letting advertisers know what you think of them sponsoring such content.
Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Monday, July 27, Amanpour & Co. on PBS and CNN International:
11:32 PM ET
FORMER GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN (D-CA): Trump is so bizarre and so deviant in so many ways, this is just another very alarming chapter in his very checkered career. Look, sending armed officials of the federal government to cities in America to do what is essentially local police work is ominous -- it's unprecedented and it's certainly not needed. Look, Oakland -- I was there - they've got several hundred anarchists that love to break windows, light fires, and protest -- but local people can handle it. When the federal government uses the Army or uses some other militia equivalent, it really does kind of conjure up some kind of East European dictatorship from another era. Trump has pushed the boundaries in so many ways. This one is particularly ominous.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Do you think it is an election ploy, as some have suggested? Or do you think in some of these places -- like, for instance, Portland has declared a state of riot now -- do you think some of these places want these federal forces? Or do you think it is just an election ploy on behalf of the President?
BROWN: No, look, I've been in politics 50 years. I think I understand the political mind. This is pure politics. It's a move probably reminiscent of Richard Nixon in '68 when we had all the protests, riots, and all these civil disturbances. Nixon was very aware that he played it like a violin, and he won in 1968. So Trump is aware of that history, and he's trying to do the same thing
Look, California has had riots before. We had the Watts riots -- we had protests and riots in 1992 -- even the National Guard of California was called then by the governor, by the President. A fundamental principle of America is federalism. And the most quintessentially local responsibility is public order and safety. The people of California -- the people of Portland, Oakland, they can handle it. This is pure politics, but it's dangerous assertion of federal authority in a way that is very contrary to our historic framework and what has divided responsibility between state, federal and local.
AMANPOUR: Governor, you said that Richard Nixon played the law enforcement card, and he won. Do you think President Trump will win?
BROWN: No one knows. I think it's an election that cannot be predicted today, but I do think Trump, by his behavior towards women, towards his office, towards the truth, whether it's thousands of lives -- I don't see where the boundaries are in this man's character. So I think he's going to try to exploit it, but I think America, Joe Biden, the decency of the people will triumph and will see through what is really not just shoddy tactics, but very dangerous and un-American maneuvers.
AMANPOUR: So let me ask you about the impact of coronavirus on the election. You know, there's all sorts of concerns among certainly Democrats about what may or may not happen around the election because of coronavirus -- whether there'll be sort of a, you know, the President has talked about not particularly liking the mail ballot system. He said that he -- well, he refused to say to Chris Wallace of Fox News whether he would leave the White House if, in fact, he lost. And I've been talking to actually former Republican governors and others who are concerned about the current state of play in the U.S. Just going back to these federal forces -- camouflage, you know, pretty much unknown who they are in various cities. This is what former Senator William Cohen said to me.
FORMER SENATOR WILLIAM COHEN (R-ME): I think President Trump is taking us down the road to tyranny -- toward one-man rule -- to try and replicate what he sees as a positive in Moscow with President Putin or in Turkey with President Erdogan or over in China or North Korea. I think that he wants to have one-man rule, and it's not the rule of law but just the opposite. It's the law of rule where he only can make decisions.
AMANPOUR: Governor, you know, he's talking about all sorts of foreign dictators and authoritarian leaders, and what's happening in the U.S. is being watched here overseas very carefully and with a degree of shock. Do you share his concern that it's really serious and that this idea of authoritarianism or chipping away at the fundamentals of democracy is possible in a country like the United States?
BROWN: I certainly think it's possible. I think Senator Cohen gave the most ominous interpretation, but it's not completely far-fetched. We've seen Poland, Hungary going the authoritarian route, so it's not just the former, you know, just Russia and Turkey. We're in a very disruptive period -- people are desperate -- you see it in the reaction on the streets -- you see it in voting behavior -- you see it in just this pandemic. It's very unpredictable. So I think the remedy is for people to come out in massive numbers and repudiate the man who's number one responsible.
He's blaming China, which concealed this for five weeks, when he's dissembled for five months, and he's the only one who can invoke the war production law so that we can make the manufacturers produce billions of masks and test kits that America now needs. So I think, yeah, we may not see absentee ballot the way we want -- we may not see people voting as often, I mean, as freely as we want, but I think when enough people look at what Trump is doing and what's going on, and they come out in the numbers, they'll be so overwhelming that the outcome will have no doubt. But is there a risk? You bet there's a risk.
AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you a very quick answer from you? Obviously, climate is your life's work, and Joe Biden has put a huge, huge, you know, two trillion dollar, you know, plan to try to deal with all of this, and it's got a lot of kudos. Are you confident that this administration, which has rolled it back, if it's replaced by Biden, climate will be central to the building back better post-pandemic?