In what may be the most dramatically opinionated conversation of the 2016 presidential campaign, CNN correspondents are all but declaring the race dead in the water with the release of a tape of Donald Trump engaging in vulgar, sexual banter with NBC “TODAY” Show host Billy Bush.
Wolf Blitzer called it an “October surprise.”
In a 2005 audio recording, Trump is heard saying that “When you’re a star they let you do it.” Bush agreed, “Whatever you want.” Trump continued, “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Of all the CNN correspondents who expressed outrage, CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta sounded the most appalled.
“This is way worse than what he said about Rosie O’Donnell,” Acosta said on Blitzer’s program Friday afternoon after the bombshell video was released by The Washington Post‘s David Fahrenthold. “It is just unconscionable. …People can just watch this and be repulsed.”
Acosta seemed genuinely angry as he expressed himself.
“She [Hillary Clinton] has used the term ‘basket of deplorables.’ There isn’t much that is more deplorable than this. This is the very definition of deplorable. He [Donald Trump] is in his own basket of deplorable right now.”
Brianna Keilar, who is the network’s senior political correspondent, was also disgusted. “The lack of awareness there,” she said of Trump’s quasi non-apology. “If anyone was offended?”
Trump’s apology included this line: “I apologize if anyone was offended.”
The panel moved on to momentarily discuss how “squeaky clean” Trump’s VP Mike Pence is and wondered how he’d possibly react to this.
“Mike Pence is genuinely and legitimately a Christian conservative,” said CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash.
Coming in with wishful thinking or else the biggest understatement of the afternoon, Blitzer said, “I think it’s fair to say this is a political crisis.”