Breitbart News senior editor at large Joel Pollak appeared on CNN’s “New Day” on Monday and shocked host Chris Cuomo — and some left-of-center viewers — by invoking Ringo Starr’s 1973 remake of “You’re Sixteen” in the context of a discussion of the allegations against Alabama Republican U.S. Senate nominee Roy Moore.
Pollak’s comment came up after he pointed out that Cuomo had, once again, lumped in “allegations” of legal with illegal behavior.
Transcipt as follows:
CUOMO: President Trump, making a political decision defending Roy Moore, and resisting efforts from within his own party to push Moore out amid child molestation allegations [sic]. So is this about agenda being more important than moral compass? Joining us now to discuss, the senior editor at large for Breitbart News, Joel Pollak. Joel, good to have you back. How you doing?
POLLAK: About five pounds heavier than the last time we spoke, before Thanksgiving. Otherwise, pretty well.
CUOMO: You look good, You look good. So the move on Moore — for the president, is it just a naked political move?
POLLAK: Well, I think this president sees that Roy Moore is still doing well in the polls. He wants to be on the winning side. And I also think that he’s shifting focus of the race to Doug Jones, who is the Democrat, and who is more liberal than the kind of candidate Democrats have traditionally run in red states and red districts. As you and I discussed last week, that’s where the focus of this race is going to be: is Doug Jones too liberal for Alabama?
CUOMO: Right. But it has to be on balance with what is apparently a supervening moral question, right? I mean, you know, this is what Bannon talks about all the time, that you have to have higher principles than just expediency. It’s such a core piece of his notion of populism. The president isn’t putting that into practice here. He’s saying that the allegations against Roy Moore are basically tantamount to his position on taxes.
POLLAK: Well, have you ever seen a Democrat, whether a Democratic president or Democratic leader telling members of their own party, “Hey, we don’t like our Democratic candidate, go out and vote for the Republican?” I mean, this is not something that happens in politics. What the president is doing is actually rather normal. He is telling people, look, there are bigger issues at stake here, and the issue here is whether you have, as he puts it, a Schumer/Pelosi puppet, or whether we have someone that supports the agenda you elected in 2016.
CUOMO: So do you embrace what he’s doing here, do you think that these allegations aren’t important enough to merit independent scrutiny, and you should just stick to politics by the numbers and get the seat because it’s better to have someone from your party?
POLLAK: Well, empirically, what we know about allegations like these is that most of the time they’re true, but we also know that some of the time they’re not. And when they come up in the heat of campaign season, especially just a few weeks before a general election, then there’s reason to treat them with additional scrutiny. And I think that some of the allegations, at least upon further review, are looking a little bit shakier. That doesn’t mean all of them are. But again, the issues for Alabama voters are bigger than what happened forty years ago. I think, as you and I discussed last week, people would have liked to have seen these come up earlier, in a primary, where there was a choice of Republican candidates. So there’s some discounting that the public is doing now that they’re coming up so late.
CUOMO: Right, But the timing, we know there are lots of reasons for that. And you know, it’s interesting in terms of, they’re usually true, sometimes they’re not. Can you think of another case where you had more than five women coming forward, who don’t know each other, with allegations of this nature and they were found to be false?
POLLAK: Well, there are lots of cases where Democrats have won on elections where they were under investigation or they had been convicted of something. You know, this is, again —
CUOMO: I know. I am asking something different, though, Joel. A case where you have five women come forward with accusations of this nature where they wound up being false.
POLLAK: Well, we have cases where they wound up being true and the candidate still won. Bill Clinton, in the Democratic primary in 1992 faced one allegation after another —
CUOMO: I know. But the notion it’s okay to vote for Roy Moore because sometimes these accusations are false, that’s not backed up by fact. I mean, you can make that decision as a voter, even as a Christian voter who’s supposedly guided by a moral compass that goes beyond just the laws of man. You can do it, but where is the consistency on that? I mean, you can’t come up with a single case where women in this volume have been exposed as part of some conspiracy to undermine a man running for office.
POLLAK: Well, when you talk about volume, you know, you started the segment by saying “allegations” of child molestation. Right now there’s one single allegation of a woman who was under legal age. So you’re lumping in stories —
CUOMO: Arguably two, right? Because you had that other lady, 16, 17, she wasn’t a minor, but she was very young to have somebody who’s that age come on her, let alone if it was an unwanted touching, known as an assault.
POLLAK: You know, in 1973, Ringo Starr hit number one on the Billboard charts with a song: “You’re sixteen, you’re beautiful, and you’re mine.” And it was a remake of an earlier song. He was thirty-something at the time, singing about a 16-year-old. You want to take away Ringo Starr’s achievement, I mean —
CUOMO: You can’t be serious. You can’t be serious.
POLLAK: You can’t be serious. You’re talking about relationships that were legal.
CUOMO: I’m dead serious. You think that Ringo Starr’s song is supposed to be a nod towards allowing 30-year-old men to prey on teenagers? You don’t believe that, Joel. You’re a parent. You don’t believe that.
POLLAK: You’re also a parent, and you know when you raise sons, the risk that our sons face today is that they’re going to be exposed to accusations that may or may not be true. And that’s a new thing. You talk about raising daughters, you always worry about your daughters, the kind of risks they are going to face. But what our sons have to worry about what you’re talking about, where you’re lumping in allegations of illegal behavior with legal conduct. And it’s part of a campaign of character assassination that the mainstream media’s been a part of, and people —
CUOMO: Or character appraisal. Character appraisal. It’s not one woman that came out and said something that’s a little sketchy. You’ve got to vet all accusations. This is different. You’ve got numbers, and you’ve got degree. But let me put that to the side for a moment. I want to ask you something else, while I have you, I am running out of time. Trump coming out and saying that the “Access Hollywood” tape may not be authentic. Do you put any stock in that notion at all?
POLLAK: You know, it’s interesting how presidents sometimes do rewrite history a little bit. We know he apologized for it in 2016. Barack Obama wrote in “Dreams from My Father” certain things that were fictionalized, like his composite girlfriend. And his literary agent, for sixteen years, promoted his book as if he were born in Kenya, and raised in Indonesia. And there are things a president rewrites —
CUOMO: You think that President Obama was born outside the United States?
POLLAK: Chris, you know that’s not the point I am making.
CUOMO: You brought it up, and it seems, to plant that seed, just like Trump saying that tape may be inauthentic. It’s a dog whistle.
POLLAK: Let me give you another example. You have Hillary Clinton going around the country on a book tour claiming the Russians stole the election from her. Did the Russians prevent her campaigning in Wisconsin? I mean, sometimes people who are driven to become high achievers do have a way of recasting reality so they’re better able to achieve their goals. You know, Scott Adams, who’s appeared on CNN, and who’s a great writer about persuasion, has pointed out that one of Trump’s inspirations was Norman Vincent Peale, who wrote the book “The Power of Positive Thinking.” And there’s a chapter in that book about not accepting defeat. So we’re only speculating here, because we haven’t seen Trump say this publicly, and we are only hearing hearsay about what he’s talked about with that “Access Hollywood” tape. It is possible he is trying to reshape that setback. And it was a setback, during the campaign —
CUOMO: Right. But it would be a lie. It would be a lie.
POLLAK: Well, he’s not lying to the public —
CUOMO: If he says the tape may not be authentic, it is a lie, would you agree?
POLLAK: The only lies that count in politics are lies you tell the public. What he tells himself is up to him.
CUOMO: Joel Pollak, appreciate getting your take on “New Day,” as always.
POLLAK: You’re welcome.
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