CNN’s Erin Burnett Calls Out Trump’s History of Using ‘Infest’ as Racist Dogwhistle

CNN’s Erin Burnett called out President Donald Trump’s history of deploying the loaded term “infest” as a dogwhistle to stoke racism and nativism and said his re-election campaign’s embrace of such divisive rhetoric to energize its white supporters was a “deeply ugly admission.”

On her show Out Front, Burnett noted that the president’s recent Tweets blasting Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings’ Baltimore district as “disgusting rodent and rat infested mess” — and then doubling down on it — was part of a larger pattern of using that kind of prejudicial language. She then proceeded to show a number of previous Tweets where Trump wielded “infest” like a rhetorical cudgel to attack minorities.

“Infest is a loaded word throughout history,” Burnett noted, before highlighting a series of Tweets from earlier in July in which Trump also used the word to attack Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Ilhan Omar. “And ‘infest’ is a word the president often uses when it comes to black and brown people, just the other day telling four minority congresswomen to ‘go back’ to the crime-infested countries they came from.”

Cummings, Burnett pointed out, chairs the House Oversight Committee, which is conducting numerous investigations of the Trump administration, making him another high-profile target for the president. And she also noted that, rather than try to walk back Trump’s comments, his advisers are fully encouraging them as part of his 2020 election strategy.

“Don’t take my comment as a guess,” Burnett said. “The Washington Post reports that Trump’s advisers concluded that attacks like these are ‘good for the president among his political base, resonating strongly with the white working-class voters he needs to win reelection in 2020.’ They said it. They think slamming minorities, black congressmen, will resonate with Trump’s white voters. That is a deeply ugly admission.”

Watch the video above, via CNN.

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