By Joseph Wulfsohn, Brian Flood
Published July 16, 2019
CNN commentator Steve Cortes had a fiery clash both on television and online with a CNN colleague who also writes for The New York Times, slamming Wajahat Ali as "shameful" for suggesting to the pro-Trump pundit that "no matter how hard you try to be the Latin face of Trump, they’ll never love you.”
“Tonight, my CNN colleague @WajahatAli resorted to the most racist and condescending insult I’ve ever heard, telling me 'they will never love you.' As if I’m some brown fool earnestly trying to earn the favor of white Trump supporters,” Cortes tweeted following the TV segment. “Shameful.”
It started when Cortes, a former campaign adviser for Trump who is now one of the struggling CNN's lone Trump-supporting contributors, reiterated his previous criticisms of the president's controversial tweets that targeted four congresswomen of color, which he called "illogical" and "divisive." But Cortes rejected host Anderson Cooper's declaration that the president is a "demagogue."
"How could you say this is not demagoguery?" Cooper asked. 'How could you say that he is not playing on people's prejudices, about going back to your homeland."
“Because he didn’t mention color,” Cortes answered.
“You’re saying it’s random he picked four people of color?” the anchor shot back.
"Anderson, did I get invited on to talk or do you want to do the talking?" Cortes later swiped after a combative back-and-forth.
The pro-Trump pundit then took aim at fellow panelist Ali, for sharing a Daily Beast column that said, "Trump is a racist. If you still support him, so are you."
"That to me is absolute prejudice. That is bigotry," Cortes said. “To call me, to call tens of millions of Trump supporters racist, to dismiss us, to dehumanize us, and marginalize us, that is bigotry!"
Ali called the president "stupid" and a "white nationalist," later suggesting that anyone who doesn't condemn the "racism" is "complicit."
"If you support Donald Trump's agenda right now, in 2019, after everything he's done, you might not be a racist, Steve... but you are fine with endorsing and supporting a racist president," Ali told Cortes, later adding, "They’ll never love you. The white nationalists will never love you, no matter how hard you try to be the Latin face of Trump, they’ll never love you.”
After the segment abruptly ended, Cortes took to Twitter and slammed his CNN colleague.
Ali responded to Cortes, tweeting "But was it more racist and condescending than Trump telling 4 US Congresswomen to go back to their countries, Steve? More racist than saying black and brown immigrants come from s---hole countries? More racist than saying Jews fund a caravan of immigrant invaders? Be best."
"Unlike you, @WajahatAli, I don’t view all politics through the prism of race," Cortes hit back. "I oppose the radical ideas of those Congresswomen, not their race. I similarly reject your bigotry toward the millions in our movement, and not your ethnicity."