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“It’s been a very slow news cycle lately. I don’t know if you noticed,” joked the CNN anchor about the Trump administration.
Host Jimmy Kimmel asked if the fast-paced news cycle is good or bad for the media industry. “We want people to watch, obviously, CNN. We want people to know what’s going on,” he said. “Our job as journalists, as reporters, is to report the news as fairly, as responsibly, as accurately as we possibly can. We know we’re the first draft of history, meaning that occasionally we’ll make a mistake and if we do we correct it as soon as possible.
“It’s really an important part of our democracy to have an excellent world-class news organization — like CNN is, like other news organizations are. It’s very concerning, very worrisome that the president of the United States, you know, goes after us the way that he does,” said Blitzer.
He added that Trump’s attitude toward journalists upsets him. “It makes me very upset to see when he says ‘fake news’ and we’re the worst,” Blitzer said. “We are not the enemy of the people.”
“We are not the enemy of the American people,” Blitzer reiterated about serious news organizations. “We report the news. It’s part of our democracy. What worries me so much is when the president says what he says, it gives encouragement to dictators out there around the world to go after free press.”
“We as journalists, at CNN and other major news organizations, who risk their lives every day to get the story, to be responsible and to do it in a fair way and for the president to belittle us, that’s an awful, awful situation,” said the anchor.
After Kimmel said that we have to get rid of Trump, Blitzer responded, “We have to get him to stop talking. It’s really, really a dangerous situation. It’s an awful situation and I hope he stops doing it.”
Blitzer said later in the interview that he is on vacation. Kimmel asked what he does if a major news story breaks while he is off from work. “If it’s big breaking news, I stop the vacation. Go back to work,” he said. “We report the big breaking news.”
He added that he has had to leave many vacations to return to work. “I’ve been with CNN now for 28 years,” he said. “Twenty-eight years is a long time and over the years there have been many vacations that have been ‘bye bye.'”
Blitzer said that his wife is very understanding of his need to report the news. “When Ted Turner hired me 28 years ago to work at CNN, I was the Pentagon correspondent during the first Gulf War back in 1990, and he said to me words I will never forget,” he recalled. “He said, ‘Remember you’re working at CNN. The news comes first.’ And so the news comes first.”
The journalist added that as he prepared for a vacation months into his job at CNN, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait followed by Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. “No vacation for a long time,” he said.
Kimmel then posed a few hypothetical scenarios to see which ones would be big enough news to compel Blitzer to end his vacation and return to work.
The host first asked if Blitzer would leave his vacation if Trump fired Robert Mueller. “I’d skip the vacation and I’d get back to work,” he said.
“What if the hotel room hooker tape came out?” asked Kimmel. “I’d stay on vacation,” responded Blitzer.
The journalist said that he would leave his vacation if Trump fell down the stairs getting on or off Air Force One. “If the President of the United States falls down the stairs of Air Force One, and I’ve walked down those stairs over the years many times, it’s not just a little ding. It’s a big deal,” he said.
Blitzer added that he would stay on vacation if Mike Pence got an earring, if Donald Trump Jr. took one of his children to the zoo and accidentally shot a lion, if Trump locked himself outside of the White House in his underwear, if Melania Trump wore a jacket that says ‘Get me out’ and if Steve Bannon choked on a meatball sub.
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