James Taranto’s late, lamented Wall Street Journal column had a running tongue-in-cheek rubric, “We Blame George W. Bush,” in which the former president was blamed for everything under the sun, despite his utter lack of connection to it.

In that spirit, Taranto might have had a field day with a panel discussion on CNN this morning, in which the participants did their best to blame President Trump for an incident in Montana in which the Republican congressional candidate has been accused of manhandling a reporter. Co-host Alisyn Camerota got the ball rolling by asking whether there is “some sort of larger story or message we should take away here . . . growing aggression against the press.”

The panel was only too happy to run with that ball. Take CNN political analyst John Avlon, accusing President Trump of “consciously stoking those fires of fear and anger and resentment.” Avlon later called on Montana voters to “send a message.”

Chris Cuomo ended the segment by advising President Trump to condemn the incident. “Let’s see if he takes” the opportunity, concluded Cuomo.

Note: Take a close look at what Washington Post reporter Karoun Demirjirian did. She began by saying that it is Democrats who are pointing the finger at President Trump for creating an anti-media culture. But by the end of her statement, she seems to adopt the Dem view as her own, saying that Trump “certainly creates an environment in which this is somehow okay to hate reporters and sometimes fists fly.”

ALISYN CAMEROTA: Is there some sort of larger story or message we should be taking away here? Is this just an isolated incident? A candidate snapped, and we can look at it that way. Or we can look at it as growing aggression against the press?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN: You’ve got this kind of culture of, you know, the reporters are the enemy going on and it depends. You see a lot of Democrats pointing the finger at the president right now, saying you’ve created, you’ve helped create at least this culture where people consider reporters to be —

CAMEROTA: — enemy of the people!

DEMIRJIAN: Exactly! And so, and maybe that doesn’t mean go out and assault a reporter, but it certainly creates an environment in which this is somehow okay to hate reporters and sometimes fists fly in those situations.

CHRIS CUOMO: The flip side, John, is it fair to blame the president for the actions of one dope in Montana?

JOHN AVLON: No. No. There’s not a direct connection. But it’s about creating an atmosphere consciously stoking those fires of fear and anger and resentment. And this isn’t subtle! The President of the United States calling the press the quote enemy of the American people. A lot of rhetoric in his rallies over the course of the campaign where people at the rallies express a lot of anger and hostility to the press and to reporters. This guy clearly flipped off the handle. And it’s part of a larger pattern we should be aware of.

The fact that three papers in Montana overnight withdrew their endorsement is a big deal. And now it is up to the people of Montana to send a message.

. . .

CUOMO: There’s one opportunity here, though. The president made robocalls for this guy. He supposedly has a picture of him with one of Trump’s kids. There’s an opportunity. If the president is going to be fairly or unfairly blamed for this environment, to come out, condemn it, say it’s wrong. You want to be angry at the media, that’s fine. You want to have heated conversations. That’s fine. You don’t touch people. It’s an opportunity. Let’s see if he takes it.


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