Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” host Jon Karl asked National Security Adviser John Bolton about the cancellation of his interview with CNN.
Karl asked, “I want to ask you about Putin and freedom of the press. Vladimir Putin and his government have jailed journalists, there have been accusations they have carried out murders of journalists, and we hear President Trump, doesn’t he kind of contribute to that authoritarian effort to undermine a free press when we hear him brand legitimate news organizations as fake, legitimate news stories as fake? Doesn’t that contribute to exactly the kind of undermining of the free press that we see out of Russia?”
Bolton shot back, “No I don’t think that has anything to do with it. Franklin Roosevelt met with Joseph Stalin at a time when activity in Russia was a lot worse than it is today. I’m not excusing present conduct, but it didn’t seem to bother Franklin Roosevelt, and liberal Democrats weren’t bothered at the time when he met with Stalin. Let’s have some historical perspective here and not act like we have the attention span of fruit flies.”
Karl continued, “But wait a minute. I’m not asking whether or not it’s legitimate or appropriate for him to meet with Vladimir Putin. I’m asking if the president branding real news organizations, real news stories as not real contributes to this effort that we see from the Russians and from other authoritarians to undermine a free press?
Bolton said, “Of course not. Really honestly, Jonathan Honestly I think the question is silly. Don’t say I’m attacking freedom of the press. I just characterized your question.”
Karl asked, “OK, well, you were also scheduled to appear on CNN this morning, and the White House press secretary announced that your appearance would not go forward because a CNN reporter, quote, ‘disrespected the president and Prime Minister May at the joint press conference. Is it really appropriate to deny a news organization access to a White House official because a reporter tried to ask a question at a press conference?”
Bolton responded, “In reality, I don’t seek out the press, I don’t talk to them. I appear when I’m asked to, and if I’m not asked to appear, I don’t do it. And I don’t communicate with them either, as you could find out if you consulted your friends in the Washington press corps whom I don’t communicate with.”