In a chaotic back-and-forth that lasted more than 18 minutes, new CNN New Day host John Berman got just a few straight answers from White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Wednesday morning.
“This is a silly discussion now,” a frustrated Berman said to Conway near the end of the wide-ranging interview, which covered subjects ranging from the Eagles to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ refusal to clarify whether communications aide Kelly Sadler would remain part of the Trump administration following disparaging remarks about Sen. John McCain.
In fact, one of the few questions the South Jersey native answered directly was whether she remained a fan of the Eagles following President Trump’s decision to rescind the team’s invitation to celebrate their Super Bowl victory at the White House.
“Of course,” Conway said, noting that she’s a lifelong fan and a proud season-ticket holder. “I’m old enough to remember sitting out at Veterans Stadium season after season when they didn’t do so well.”
Unsurprisingly, Conway defended Trump’s decision to hold a “Celebration of America” in place of the traditional meet-and-greet with players and coaches on the championship-winning team, claiming it was a way for him to focus on the fans who came to Washington to celebrate.
“He didn’t want to disappoint them,” Conway said. “So rather than doubly disappoint Eagles fans, the president decided that they were all still invited and could still come to celebrate America.”
>> READ MORE: Eagles disinvited to the White House: Key things to know
But as my colleague Mike Sielski pointed out, there didn’t appear to be many actual Eagles fans in attendance on the South Lawn during the brief event.
“We’re all staffers,” one person told Sielski, who attended the event. Jenna Webster, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who is interning with the Republican National Committee, said she received a mass email from the White House inviting her to attend.
Conway also claimed the NFL’s new policy banning players from protesting on the sideline during the national anthem had nothing to do with Trump, despite the president’s repeated calls to punish and fire players who protested.
“That is a condition of employment [the NFL is] making on their players and their clubs. That has nothing to do with the White House,” Conway said. “I think the president has made a very simple request. He’s just said that he believes you should stand for the flag and honor all that it means.”
The interview perhaps revealed to Berman, who replaced Chris Cuomo following his move to prime time, why so many media pundits and reporters question the value of providing air time to Conway, who often dodges questions and pushes falsehoods that leave hosts scrambling to respond.
Another CNN host who’s faced questions over exchanges with the presidential adviser — Jake Tapper, who like Conway is a lifelong Eagles fan — called Trump’s decision to cite anthem protests as the reason he chose to rescind his invitation “a lie.”
On Tuesday’s The Lead, Tapper, a Philadelphia native, said an Eagles player told him “that not one Eagle cited the president’s view on anthem protests when discussing the reasons they did not want to attend.”
Tapper also read a comment from an unnamed Eagles player who pushed back on Trump’s claim that players planned to skip the ceremony over the president’s stance on the protests.
“Reasons vary from player to player because the president gives people so many reasons not to want to go,” Tapper said, quoting the player. “Lots of guys who are white and even conservative balked at the possibility of going.”
George Conway, a prominent Republican lawyer and Kellyanne’s husband, took Tapper’s side, quoting the CNN host while sharing his segment on Twitter.
Eagles player: “Reasons vary from player to player, because the President gives people so many reasons not to want to go …. Lots of guys who are white and even conservative balked at the possibility of going.” https://t.co/ILa4I9yfb4
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) June 5, 2018