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Republican Strategist Defends CNN Against Trump Attack: ‘He All But Declared Fox News to be State TV’

Republican strategist Steve Schmidt appeared on MSNBC late Monday, and gave an impassioned defense of CNN International, in the wake of President Donald Trump’s vicious attacks on the network.

In a tweet sent out last week, Trump said that “outside of the U.S., CNN International is still a major source of (Fake) news, and they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly. The outside world does not see the truth from them!”

Trump also tweeted on Tuesday proposing a “contest” between cable news networks — though he exempted Fox News — to determine which is “the most dishonest.” The winner of the contest would receive the “FAKE NEWS TROPHY!”

MSNBC’s Brian Williams asked Schmidt, a former senior campaign strategist for John McCain, what he thought of Trump’s contest as well as his denigrating an American news organization to a global audience.

“Well, he all but declared Fox News to be American state TV,” Schmidt started. “Extraordinary.”

“With regard to CNN International, with people who live in autocratic countries, who live behind a veil of totalitarianism, CNN International — they thirst for that news coverage because it’s a truth to them,” Schmidt said. “It speaks to what’s happening in the world and all of it’s cruelty, its injustice. But also the magnanimity, the hope, that comes from the notion of free people.”

“And, so, what he did is he endangered, certainly, CNN journalists, all journalists operating in dangerous areas, in autocratic areas and it’s another assault in sprit on the concept of a free press, on the spirit of the First Amendment,” Schmidt continued, before noting Trump’s “utterly bizarre claims” that he is not sure the Access Hollywood tape that he apologized for last year is real.

“These are not normal behaviors, and I think it bears repeating all the time, how far out of the normal range we are. These are the behaviors of an autocrat. Not a democratically elected president of the United States.”

“It’s disturbing.”

Watch above, via MSNBC.

[image via screengrab]

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Aidan McLaughlin is the Managing Editor of Mediaite. Send tips via email: aidan@mediaite.com or via Signal: 917-817-8266. Follow him on Twitter: @aidnmclaughlin