In a painful interview with Iowa Representative Steve King on Monday morning, CNN “New Day” anchor Chris Cuomo put words into the congressman’s mouth, insisting that his tweet about a country’s need to raise birth rates to preserve its culture was really a racist statement.
“You keep making this point that this country needs to be about white people raising their birthrate, not bringing in other people,” Cuomo declared while interviewing King.
The congressman immediately shot back, “I have never made that point, I have never said that. I’ve been characterized as saying that.”
The tussle began Sunday, when King tweeted support for Dutch politician Geert Wilders who condemned a Rotterdam protest in support of Turkey’s Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny,” the Iowa congressman declared. “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies. https://t.co/4nxLipafWO
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) March 12, 2017
Detractors seized on the “somebody else’s babies” comment as anti-immigrant and racist. Some called King a “nazi scumbag,” a “hateful piece of garbage,” or “simply a bigot.”
A Republican colleague, Florida Congressman Carlos Curbelo pointedly asked, “Do I qualify as ‘somebody else’s baby?'”
.@SteveKingIA What exactly do you mean? Do I qualify as "somebody else's baby?" #concernedGOPcolleague
— Carlos Curbelo (@CLCurbelo) March 13, 2017
To be fair, former Klu Klux Klan leader David Duke praised King, tweeting, “GOD BLESS STEVE KING!!” and tentatively endorsing a King 2024 presidential run.
GOD BLESS STEVE KING!!! #TruthRISING https://t.co/oDFel8JDrP
— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) March 12, 2017
Nevertheless, King’s tweet, while arguably anti-immigrant, was far from explicitly racist.
If King actually said the things the media accuse him of, I'd call for his constituents to dump him. But he didn't. https://t.co/J2kZbJuaXd pic.twitter.com/lfjrMWLDYw
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) March 13, 2017
The congressman later explained that he meant the message in terms of “culture, not race.” His point was about Americans of all races having more children (and aborting less), raising them to perpetuate American culture. In the CNN interview, the Iowa representative actually praised America’s racial diversity while attempting to downplay the divisive issue of race.
That did not prevent Cuomo from attempting to make King’s comments racist, however.
“It seemed like … you were trying to say ‘someone else’s babies’ means ‘You’re either white or you’re not right,'” Cuomo insisted. “And as you know that is anathema to what America’s all about. Can we get agreement on that?”
After this, King paused — possibly because he had not anticipated his words being so forcibly twisted into a racist statement. How should someone respond to insinuations like that?
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