CNN Host Frets Fox News Will Be Critical of Guest Comparing Russia Interference to Pearl Harbor


February 18, 2018

CNN host Brian Stelter fretted Sunday that a Fox News host would be critical of his guest's comparison of Russian meddling efforts in the U.S. election to Pearl Harbor after she made the reference on his program.

The hot topic on "Reliable Sources" Sunday was the handing down of 13 indictments of Russian nationals on Friday for illegal "information warfare" efforts through social media trolling, identity theft and other malfeasances as part of a systematic effort by the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 election.

President Donald Trump has downplayed and even denied in the past that Russians meddled in the election and has called the notion his campaign colluded with the Kremlin a "hoax." The White House said the indictments—which did not implicate any Americans—showed there was "no collusion."

Washington Post columnist Karen Tumulty criticized Trump and his allies for talking about what was not in the indictments rather than address the Russian efforts to interfere in American politics. Trump tweeted Sunday "they are laughing their asses off in Moscow" at the Russia investigation.

"The obvious reaction is to look at the what the indictment says and then to say, 'How are we going to deal with this? How are we going to address this?'" Tumulty said. "You look at the president's tweets this morning, and try to imagine if Franklin D. Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor had gotten on the radio and said that Tokyo was laughing at us ... That is not what is called upon a president to do right now."

"You know what's going to happen though, Karen. Someone on Fox News is going to take what you just said, they're going to say, 'How dare you compare this to Pearl Harbor?'" Stelter said.

Tumulty didn't back off her comparison, though, calling it "an attack on our country."

"It is an attack on our country. It is an attack on our country with use of 21st-century means, and it is definitely a national security threat, which is something that the commander-in-chief is supposed to be dealing with," Tumulty said.

More than 2,400 Americans were killed in the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. It is unclear how many Americans were killed by Russian meddling efforts, although initial estimates place the number at zero.

UPDATE: 4:01 p.m.: This article originally stated Stelter worried a Fox News would "spin" the comments, but he tweeted that he meant he felt Tumulty's words "might get picked up and challenged by Fox." Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.) made a similar comparison last week on MSNBC and was heavily criticized on "Fox & Friends" on Sunday.