ESPN sports analyst Stephen A. Smith began a firestorm as a guest on Fox News when he challenged host Eric Bolling on the efficacy and maturity of President Donald Trump’s Twitter habits. A shouting match ensued and dragged in every co-host and guest on “The Specialists.”
“You alluded to how the Republicans are caving,” Smith said to Bolling. “I don’t see you giving enough accountability to Donald Trump. Perhaps, let me explain … I’m saying if you are the president of the United States of America, you are 70 years of age, and you are tweeting, literally competing with 15 and 17-year-olds. That is a problem.
“A lot of times,” he said, “I’m not even thinking about the substantive of the arguments, because you guys would know that a hell of a lot better than me. …”
“Can I just clarify something?” Bolling interrupted. “You just said they shouldn’t worry about it. This is only the second time in history this has happened, OK? Second time they’ve appointed a special counsel. …”
“No, I wasn’t talking about that,” Smith continued, “I was talking about when you say Democrats are coming after him, and Republicans are caving, et cetera, et cetera. I’m saying to you, but what culpability do you hand to a president — every time he tweets, he gives them added fuel to come after them.”
“I tell you what you should worry about,” Bolling warned, “as a Democrat, or on the left, you should worry about, Robert Mueller is a capable investigator, and guess what could happen in an investigation? They could find stuff about [Barack] Obama and Hillary [Clinton] and everyone else!”
“But you still haven’t answered my question,” Smith challenged, “with all due respect.”
“What’s the question?” Bolling demanded.
“I asked you when this man goes out and tweets, and he literally adds fuel to the fire because he gives them material to nitpick and distract, or what have you?”
“I’ve advised President Trump,” Bolling yelled after waiving off co-host Kat Timpf, “I’ve known President Trump for 15 years, and I said, ‘you know what? Keep tweeting, you’ll hit a hundred million people,’ and you know what you do? You go around the fake news…”
“That’s terrible advice, horrible advice!” Smith yelled back.
“…because 90 percent of the news media can’t stand the man!” Bolling concluded.
“You’re in the media, I’m in the media,” Smith offered later in the exchange, “what I’m saying to you is this. You have individuals who may be erroneous who may irresponsible, you can’t say the whole institution, and not only that, if you support that, what’s gonna happen is, did it ever occur to you that he could be using those maneuvers because he doesn’t want to be held accountable when they actually have something to hold him accountable for?”
“If you convince everybody that everybody is lying on you,” he asked, “then who are you accountable to, Eric?”
“He’s right!” Bolling yelled, “He’s right!”
Trump used Twitter and other social media outlets to leverage his popularity during the presidential campaign, but many of his supporters believe it has become a liability now that he is in office. Trump completely upended the news cycle with one tweet accusing former President Obama of wiretapping his campaign during the election, and he’s undermined the public relations efforts of his own staff with seemingly haphazard missives on the social media site.
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson said Wednesday that Trump’s tweeting had become “profoundly counter-productive” and damaging to his administration politically and legally. Charles Krauthammer said Trump would benefit from staying off Twitter, but it would not happen because Trump was “hard-wired like neurologically attached to his tweeting machine.”