National Public Radio (NPR) Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon implied on two occasions during his three-hour show that President Donald Trump’s tweets about liberating states from draconian shutdowns to stop the spread of the coronavirus may be Trump encouraging “armed insurrection.”
The first occasion was in an interview with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who leads a state where protests against shutting down the economy have taken place in recent days.
“As I don’t have to tell you, there were anti-stay-at-home protests in – right there in Columbus this week. And I have to ask you, Governor DeWine, when President Trump calls on people in Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia – those are states with Democratic governors – to, quote, “liberate” themselves from lockdown, is that a call for insurrection?” Simon asked.
“No, I don’t think so,” DeWine said. “Look; I mean, we have…”
“Well, what else does liberate mean?” Simon asked.
“Well, the people have every right to demonstrate,” DeWine said. “This is what I’ve said to people who were protesting against me, people who are very upset with me. I say, look; there’s the First Amendment. They have a right to speak out.”
“They have a right to demonstrate,” DeWine said. “You know, it is what it is. My job is to, you know, look at what is in the best interests of Ohioans.”
“We were very early in taking some very dramatic steps to protect Ohioans,” DeWine said. “I’m going to continue to do that. But at the same time, I understand the demonstrators.”
“They want to get the economy moving again. No one is more anxious to do that than I am,” DeWine said. “So I understand where they’re coming from. But we also have to do it in a rational way.”
“We have to do it in a phased way that protects human life and protects our medical institutions from being totally overrun,” DeWine said. “So this is a nuanced balance of things that, you know, we’re trying to do here.”
“Well, but I got to pressure you a bit on this because the president also tweeted, “liberate Virginia,” Simon said. “Save your great Second Amendment. It is under siege. And they followed that up from the White House podium.”
“Is that a call for armed insurrection?” Simon asked.
“No, I don’t think that’s a call for anything other than, you know, the president is tweeting what he wants to tweet,” DeWine said. “But again, you know, I’m sure there were many people who in Ohio were saying, you know, go demonstrate against DeWine, et cetera.”
“And so that’s – look; the First Amendment is what it is, and we respect the First Amendment,” DeWine said.
Later in the program, Simon asked Ron Elving, a senior editor and news analyst at NPR and an outspoken fan of Barack Obama, about “armed insurrection.”
LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 17, 2020
“The president, of course, also tweeted he wanted people in Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia to — quote — liberate their states,” Simon said, and then played an audio clip from Trump at one of his daily coronavirus press briefings where the president spoke about the threat to the Second Amendment in Virginia where Gov. Ralph Northam has overseen the installation of stricter gun control laws.
“Ron, I don’t think this is a time to hide behind euphemisms so let me ask you directly: Is this a call for armed insurrection in the United States?” Simon asked.
“When you say one night the governors are going to call their own shots and then the next night you encourage people to resist their governor — put him under siege — and the legislature and you associate that resistance with guns through talk of the Second Amendment, you surely risk inflaming those who are most combustible.”
“Does Trump actually want there to be bloodshed, no I don’t think so but does he want the show of support he is getting from these groups, well, why else would he be goading then on?” Elving said.
NPR is a taxpayer funded entity, as described in a Knight Foundation report, saying, “NPR, PBS and other public broadcasters such as American Public Media and the far-left Pacifica Radio network get about half a billion dollars in funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting ($445 million in the 2017 appropriation), which gets all its money from the taxpayer.”
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