During special live coverage Monday of Hurricane Dorian, MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle and her panel could not resist taking shots at President Trump. Ruhle found time to discuss an article in The Washington Post titled “Trump’s lost summer: Aides claim victory, but others see incompetence and intolerance.” Not only that, but the MSNBC host chided him for engaging in a Twitter feud as Dorian swirled while skipping “Labor Day activities.”
Ruhle discussed the smug Post item with the always pompous Phil Rucker (who co-wrote the piece), and Texas Tribune’s Abby Livingston. Rucker boasted that “the White House officially...is claiming victory for the summer,” but “when you talk to officials privately, both inside the White House and in the President’s orbit, they acknowledge that it’s been a very difficult period,” specifically referencing “those racist tweets” against “the Squad.”
Ruhle contended that rather than a summer of “self-sabotage,” it was a summer of “distraction” to prevent the American people from focusing on the administration’s failure to enact legislation regarding “real immigration reform” and infrastructure. When asked by Ruhle if “the list of historic achievements” of the summer that the Trump administration shared The Washington Post were in fact “historic,” Rucker admitted that “there are some real achievements” but declined to go into detail.
Switching gears to President Trump’s Twitter fight with liberal actress Debra Messing (which started with Messing asking for a list of the attendees at a Beverly Hills fundraiser for the President), the panel attempted to psychoanalyze what may have caused President Trump to respond to Messing’s tweet.
Ruhle slammed the President for engaging in a Twitter fight as “all the people in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, are bracing for a hurricane that’s currently a Category 4.” Like a good, liberal hack, Rucker seconded by complaining that Trump couldn’t “put away the petty grievances” during “a moment of national crisis.”
In wrapping things up, Ruhle complained that President Trump was not participating in any Labor Day activities, asking Livingston: “What does it say...to that American worker that the President isn’t participating in any Labor Day activities?”
Ruhle apparently did not realize that President Trump sent out a presidential proclamation recognizing “the American workers” who are “the heart and soul of our Nation’s economic resurgence.” Considering the liberal media’s hatred of President Trump, they probably would have gone after him if he participated in Labor Day activities instead of being 100 percent focused on Dorian.
It comes across as quite ironic that anyone on MSNBC would bash President Trump for his “petty grievances.” After all, MSNBC cannot seem to put aside their “petty grievances” against President Trump; even during a hurricane.
A transcript of the relevant portion of the conversation is below. Click “expand” to read more.
MSNBC Hurricane Dorian Coverage
STEPHANIE RUHLE: Welcome back. You’re watching MSNBC. I’m Stephanie Ruhle. President Trump is currently at the White House, after spending part of his day at his Virginia golf course; where he was briefed on the hurricane every hour, according to White House staff. It is the end of the summer, but it is also the end of what The Washington Post describes as a “lost summer defined by self-inflicted controversies and squandered opportunities.” These include the President’s attacks against “the Squad” and his response to the mass shootings that took place in Dayton and El Paso, as well as his handling of the trade war with China. The Post reports that “privately, many of the president’s advisers and outside allies bemoan what they consider to be a period of missed opportunity and self-sabotage.” I’m joined by now Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Phil Rucker, who’s the White House Bureau Chief of The Washington Post, who was one of the reporters on this very story. And Abby Livingston, Washington Bureau Chief for The Texas Tribune. Philip, since you penned this piece, I turn…
PHIL RUCKER: Yeah.
RUHLE: …to you first. What are you hearing from White House staffers about how the President spent his summer? And then I want to go from staffers to outside advisors.
PHIL RUCKER: Yeah so, Steph…the, the White House officially is…is claiming victory for the summer and…and shared with my colleague Ashley Parker and I a list of more than two dozen achievements that they say are historic for the President. But when you talk to officials privately both inside the White House and in the President’s orbit, they acknowledge that it’s been a very difficult period; that it’s been a series of controversies, one after another, and you could start with those racist tweets, the attacks, the “send them home” attacks on…on the four Congresswomen of color. And it sort of devolved from there. And…and the end result at the end of July and August is that the President gave up this opportunity to really try to set the table for his reelection campaign, to try to broaden his appeal, to try to build a foundation that he can grow on when the campaigning heats up later this year. And he just…he, he squandered that opportunity in the estimation of some of his advisors.
RUHLE: Abby, many say, as Phil points out, that he squandered opportunities and it was a summer of self-sabotage but was it, or was it one of distraction? The President distracted us from issues like real immigration reform, like actually doing something on an infrastructure bill that was agreed upon between the President and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. The President, this White House, this administration has done nothing as far as repeal and replace in terms of what they’re providing for health care. So, was it squandered opportunities, or was it a summer of distraction?
ABBY LIVINGSTON: Well, given I go to the Hill almost every day when they’re in session, and I just don’t really have a sense that they’re going to pass much of anything given that the Democrats now control the House. But one thing about this politically is this is the end of summer obviously. Labor Day is also a major demarcation point in the presidential calendar, and the question I had when I read this piece was, will the President become more focused once this presidential campaign become…takes center stage and we have a better sense of who the Democratic nominee is going to be and he has a foil he can focus on? And will he be more politically effective or is this a deeper issue that is happening?
RUHLE: Phil, how focused is the President on 2020? The last time he ran, the President had the benefit of having no track record and saying the government isn’t working for you, time to change it up.
RUHLE: Now he is the government.
RUCKER: Well, Steph, Donald Trump has…has really no record or history of staying focused for an extended period of time. He can certainly stay focused for, you know, a few weeks like he did at the end of the general election campaign in 2016, but that being said, he’s transfixed by the re-election campaign. He thinks about it all the time. You see him tweeting about it all the time. He has regular briefings and updates from his campaign advisers about the latest polls, about the ups and downs of the various Democratic opponents, and I assume he’s going to continue to focus in on that. But as for his messaging, as for what he’s doing as President, I would expect we will probably see more of the same, which is not a lot of focus.
RUHLE: Phil, when the White House gave you that list of historic achievements, given your assessment and your covering of this White House and others, do they seem historic?
RUCKER: I…I don’t know that I would call them historic. There are some real achievements, for sure, but there are also some questionable ones. One of the achievements that was listed on…on that…that bullet point list was the meeting between President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un at the DMZ in…in, you know, at the border of South Korea and North Korea. I mean, sure, they…they met and that was an important photo-op and an important act of diplomacy by these two leaders, but North Korea continues to fire short-range missiles; is clearly threatening Japan and South Korea and I don’t think that a lot of experts in nuclear diplomacy would…would call that a historic moment.
RUHLE: Abby, this week we are seeing kids across the country go back to school. Lots of voters are focused on education, they’re focused on health care, issues that affect every family in this country, but I got to talk about this Twitter fight that the President is in with…with the actress Debra Messing. It started after Messing asked specifically for the names of anyone who was attending a fund-raiser for the President that was taking place in Beverly Hills. President Trump took to Twitter yesterday and he said this. “I have not forgotten that when it…was announced that I was going to do The Apprentice, and when it became a big hit, Debra Messing came up to me at an Upfront, & profusely thanked me, even calling me ‘Sir.’ How times have changed!” Well, Debra Messing responded in a tweet; not fighting the President, instead she advocated for gun control and wrote this, “now that I know I have your attention… America wants universal background checks. The majority of Americans want an assault weapons ban. Take action and I will call you Sir.” Abby, what is the President’s game plan here? Because Debra Messing kind of hit him back where it hurts but he does like getting into these spats with celebrities. Is it…is it a win for him?
LIVINGSTON: I mean, when I read it, I was wondering what about this tweet broke through to him. Of all the thousands of liberal celebrities who criticize him every day on Twitter, what is it about this? And I think it just comes back to his real estate background and his sense of transactional relationships and I wrote my senior thesis in school on must-see TV, weirdly enough, and The Apprentice really was the tent pull of that night, Thursday night, after Friends went off the air. And so I guess they were partners and it’s just egregious in his mind that 15 years later, she could be on the different side of an issue with him.
RUHLE: Phil, does the President, or I shouldn’t say the President, does the President’s team think about the implications of his tweeting during times like this, a national crisis? Think about what’s happening in the Bahamas. Think about…
RUHLE: …all the people in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, are bracing for a hurricane that’s currently a Category 4 and he’s in a fight with Debra Messing.
RUCKER: Yeah, and Steph, it’s not just with Debra Messing, but he’s been airing his grievances on Twitter all weekend throughout the holiday; including this morning at The Washington Post in response to our article that you were just talking about. I mean, he, he, he doesn’t seem to have an ability to turn that off at a moment of national crisis. We’ve seen this again and again and I assume we’re going to continue to see this over the next couple of days; as the hurricane draws closer to the United States. Certainly, he’s paying attention to it. He’s getting briefed on it. It’s a focus of his…of his time. But he’s not able to shut out the other distractions and…and to put away the petty grievances.
RUHLE: Give me a history lesson, Phil. Today is Labor Day. What do Presidents normally do on this day?
RUCKER: They celebrate American workers, normally. Sometimes, you know, they’ll go to an event. They’ll…they’ll go, you know, Democratic presidents certainly, will go to Labor Day parades and…and appear with workers, but…but to find a moment to thank the people of this country who are working hard, that’s what this holiday is all about.
RUHLE: Abby, I remember when the President was running in 2016, many of his surrogates called him the working-class candidate, the blue-collar President. What does it say to…to that American worker that the President isn’t participating in any Labor Day activities?
LIVINGSTON: I do wonder if folks are paying attention. There’s just so many other atmospherics going on surrounding the President. I do wonder if union members are paying attention to this. But we will see with the election.
RUHLE: Phil, I do have to ask, what was the White House’s response to this piece, “A…a lost summer?” I can’t imagine that’s a headline that they like.
RUCKER: You know, I don’t know. Certainly, the President had his own response early this morning. He tweeted quite negatively about it and I guess that’s to be expected. But it’s a fair piece and it’s a pretty thorough analysis of…of this summer that I did with Ashley Parker and we’re proud of it.
RUHLE: Abby, you said you spend almost every day on the Hill when Congress is in session. Do you expect anything to be different when they return? When you think about what happened in Ohio, what happened in El Paso, and now what just happened in Odessa, more and more people are calling…it’s not just Debra Messing…for universal background checks. We heard from Beto O’Rourke earlier in the hour. Do you think anything will be different when Congress is back?
LIVINGSTON: We’re hearing tremors from other reports saying that there’s been discussions happening in August but I am deeply skeptical of this. I was around after the Newtown shootings. I was here after Parkland and this never gets resolved. I think the only thing that can change this is the elections and if people start losing their seats over this one way or the other, that’s the only way we’re…I, I anticipate we’ll see change.
RUHLE: But we did see changes in the 2018 midterms.
LIVINGSTON: You’re…well, we got to talk about the Senate, and the Senate is where this all comes to a head and so that’s…I, I, I think if there are Senators who lose their seats, that’s when change happens.
RUHLE: All right, Phil Rucker, Abby Livingston, thank you both so much.