After two days of will-they-or-won’t-they intrigue fanned on social media, Kellyanne Conway and CNN marked the end of their standoff Tuesday when journalist Jake Tapper interviewed Conway, President Trump’s counselor.

Reps for the network insisted they had declined the White House’s offer to include Conway in the conversation for Sunday’s “State of the Union” show, citing credibility problems on the part of the Trump administration’s communication chief after she referenced a terrorist attack, the “Bowling Green massacre,” that never happened. Conway disputed CNN’s account via Twitter on Monday and was quickly fact-checked on the same public forum:

By Tuesday’s episode of “The Lead,” Conway was back on the cable channel in time to turn piqued public interest into peak ratings. Tapper kicked off the 25-minute interview by briefly congratulating the Trump administration for successfully installing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos after a contentious confirmation process before launching into a series of questions that amply challenged recent comments by Conway and her boss, along with her expertise as a media handler.

Pointing to the two Republican senators, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, who had broken with their party in the DeVos vote, Tapper opened by asking, “Can you understand their stated concerns, these Republican senators, about what they perceive to be [DeVos’] lack of expertise with the public school system?”

Conway took a more conciliatory tone in her responses than she had during other high-profile interviews since the inauguration, but continued taking creative liberties with language and fact on more than one occasion. To wit, she met Tapper’s query about Trump’s comment that both the U.S. and Russia are “killers”—“Is President Trump equating the war in Iraq with what Vladimir Putin does?” Tapper asked—by replying, “I don’t think it’s a moral equivalence, Jake. What it is is stating two different opinions on two different matters.”

Tapper also pressed Conway about the “Bowling Green massacre,” why Trump lied about the U.S. murder rate and why he never used his trusted Twitter feed to comment about the murder of six Muslims in Quebec last month, which Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned as a “terrorist attack.”

“Every day there are these sprays of attack and sprays of falsehoods coming from the White House. It would be better if they were not coming from the White House, for me and for you,” Tapper told Conway during their exchange. Though Tapper’s performance drew early praise, context matters in his case as well—his corporate sponsor had also made ratings hay out of candidate Trump’s campaign-trail antics and still pays surrogates to populate CNN’s relentless panel discussions on programs that can no longer credibly fall under the heading of “news.”

Watch Tapper’s interview with Conway below (via CNN):

–Posted by Kasia Anderson


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