CNN anchor Poppy Harlow did a stellar job calling out Trump campaign hack Brian Morgenstern every time he tried to gaslight or change the subject about the NY Times reporting on Trump's taxes.
September 29, 2020

Poppy Harlow showed journalists (and debate moderators and Congress people questioning nominees, frankly) how to handle people who show up with nothing but lying and gaslighting on their alleged minds.

Trump's Deputy Press Secretary, Brian Morgenstern, thought he could appear on CNN to play juvenile games about the very serious reports from The New York Times that delved into twenty years of Trump's tax returns to reveal he paid only $750 in federal taxes in each of the first two years of his presidency. Harlow, an actual adult with journalism experience and a brain, cut him off each time he lied, and then made the ultimate threat when he besmirched the media: to end the interview if he did it again.

She started by asking him, since Trump claimed the reporting was false, how much DID he pay in federal income tax for 2016 and 2017? Morgenstern claimed it was perhaps as much as $70 million in taxes, accused The Times of a coordinated smear with the Democrats, and demanded she ask about Hunter Biden's taxes from his time working in Ukraine.

Smackdown Number One:

HARLOW: There's so much there, Brian. Brian, Brian, Brian. I'm so glad that we have you and we have lots of time so we don't have to talk over each other but you speak for the president, so we're gonna stick on that topic. I'm talking about federal income taxes, and in the absence of the president releasing them, which is unprecedented for modern presidents, I'm going to go with The New York Times reporting, because there's no reason not to believe it. So going with their detailed reporting -- it's very different than four years ago. This is new reporting and in the absence of that, what is true? How much federal income tax did the president pay in 2016 and 2017. That's all I'm looking for is the number.

Morgenstern continued to whine that Trump hasn't had a chance to see the documents on which the Times was basing their reporting. This is a lie he repeated several times, each time with Harlow debunking it by saying that Trump and his tax attorneys do indeed have access to his own tax filings and documents. Morgenstern then again demanded to know about Hunter Biden's taxes, and why Harlow wasn't asking about THAT.

Smackdown Number Two:

MORGENSTERN: So you are, Poppy and that's why you should be asking where is the -- where are the taxes on Hunter's 3.5 million from Russia?

HARLOW: I absolutely should not be asking the president's spokesman about someone that is not germane to this conversation, who is not running for President. Brian,

MORGENSTERN: Have you ever asked them? Have you ever done a segment on them?

HARLOW: Please do our viewers a service and answer the question.

MORGENSTERN: You're not gonna answer THAT question.

HARLOW: Because I ask the questions, and I'm glad that you're here, and I'm going to keep asking them. In 2017, Brian, in 2017, according to all of these documents, it appears the president paid more in taxes to Panama, India, and the Philippines than he did to Uncle Sam. How is that America first?

Like a rat lost in a maze, he went back to a previous dead end: the NYT and the Democrats were coordinating to smear Trump.

Smackdown Number Three:

HARLOW: Okay. Brian, I'm just going to stop you there. These are remarkable reporters from The New York Times who went through 20 years of documents. It is not okay for you to accuse them with no facts of coordinating with the Democratic party. Please stop doing that or this interview will end.

MORGENSTERN: They had ads up and running.

HARLOW: Brian, Stop attacking the press. I have not seen you do that largely before. Stop doing that. I am asking you direct questions. You can put the entire thing to bed if the president would release the records and show the American people what he says is true. Why will he not do that?

Having successfully de-fanged him, Harlow continued to dismantle his every lie and whiny excuse about how unfair all this is to poor little dictator Trump, until he really got himself tangled up in his own barbed wire:

Smackdown Number Four:

MORGENSTERN: But I'm confused. Is the attack that he was not a successful business man, or that he is profiting from the presidency which is not true?

HARLOW: Both can be true. Both can be true or false at the same time, but the only thing that can make it very clear for the American people was for them to see for themselves.

Damn. Well-done, lady. Who has any hope that Chris Wallace will call Trump out like that during the debate?

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