President Donald Trump’s speech at the CPAC conference sent MSNBC TV anchors into outrage, with Ali Velshi comparing him to the current or former leaders of Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Turkey and, of course, Russia.
“A sprawling, truly sprawling, meandering speech by the President. The likes of which – I was saying to Stephanie – I'm used to having heard from Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro or Erdogan,” Velshi said, after Trump wrapped up the speech Friday morning. “President Putin gives something like this every year, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used to give speeches like this.”
“By our executive producer’s conservative count, he touched on at least 31 different topics in this speech,” Velshi pointed out. “None of which were Russia, by the way. Russia didn’t come up.”
“Absolutely no mention of Russia,” Velshi’s co-host Stephanie Ruhle agreed. “When, remember, last Friday, 13 Russians were indicted. The President made no mention of it.”
MSNBC has been criticized by media watchdogs for displaying an almost unhealthy obsession with Russia to the detriment of other news stories. For example, FAIR found that in 2017 the network ran nearly 5,000 percent more segments about Russia than about Yemen, where a brutal war involving US ally Saudi Arabia has killed tens of thousands.
Ruhle labeled certain comments “absurd across the board,” while Velshi claimed “there were a lot of lies in the speech.”
The MSNBC hosts credited former President Barack Obama for rising wages and the drop in unemployment, and argued Trump’s withdrawal from Obama’s flagship trade initiative, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, only benefited China.
“We couldn't see the audience,” Ruhle said, “when they were cheering about when President Trump was talking about leaving TPP. Unless the audience was filled with Chinese people… I have no idea why they'd be cheering. Leaving TPP has absolutely not done anything for America or the American worker.”
“Chinese factory workers in particular,” Velshi interjected.
While Ruhle and Velshi’s “fact checking” of the speech was lauded on Twitter as “devastating” or “eviscerating,” the MSNBC anchors may have been just ever so slightly hyperbolic.
At CPAC, Trump spoke for just under 90 minutes. His acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention clocked in at 75 minutes, and his 2018 State of the Union was five minutes longer – just short of Bill Clinton’s record.
In comparison, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro holds the Guinness World Book record for the longest speech at the UN General Assembly (4.5 hours), while his longest recorded speech in Cuba was seven hours and 10 minutes, delivered in 1986 at the party congress in Havana.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin is not known for lengthy or meandering speeches, but for marathon annual question-and-answer sessions where he takes questions from journalists and people across Russia’s 11 time zones. That being a tradition virtually unknown in the West, it’s easy to see why some reporters might be confused.
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