CNN host Chris Cuomo on Monday engaged in a heated debate with Kellyanne Conway, President-elect Donald Trump’s top counselor, over Trump’s mockery of a New York Times reporter with a disability.
At the Golden Globes on Sunday, Meryl Streep slammed the president-elect’s mocking of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski in 2015.
Conway appeared on CNN to criticize the actress’ speech, asking why Streep didn’t instead speak about a recent headline-grabbing assault on a man with a mental disability in Chicago.
“Why didn’t she use the platform to talk about the mentally challenged boy last week who was tortured on a Facebook live stream by four young African-American adults in Chicago screaming racial expletives?” Conway said.
Cuomo dismissed the Chicago attackers as “haters” and said 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 was say, ‘Hey, look, making that gesture about Serge was wrong, and I apologize,’ and it would’ve been over,” Cuomo said. “Instead, there are these tortured attempts to say, ‘Oh, no, no, I had nothing to do with Serge.'”
Conway continued to deny that Trump mocked the reporter because of 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?” Conway said. “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.”
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’s polling, all of its analysts, all of the people in the world saying he couldn’t even win?” Conway said.
“Because he’s making a disgusting gesture on video talking about Serge,” Cuomo replied. “He’s doing a gesture that goes right 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 said. “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,” Cuomo fired back. “He’s making a gesture that is so keenly tuned to what Serge’s vulnerability is.”
The two continued to debate before Conway buttoned the conversation.
“You can’t give him the benefit of the doubt on this?” Conway said. “And he’s telling you what was 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.”