While live on air with CNN late Saturday, economist Ben Stein, who served as a speechwriter and lawyer for former President Richard Nixon, slammed the cable news network and other members of the mainstream media for treating President Donald Trump like a "punching bag."
Asked by CNN host Brianna Keilar what his thoughts were on Trump announcing his decision to not attend this year's White House Correspondents Association dinner, Stein begin tearing into the media.
"I don't blame Mr. Trump one bit for [making the decision]," Stein said. "He's a punching bag, day after day after day in the media and I don't blame him for not wanting to go and be a punching bag in person."
Keilar appeared slightly confused over Stein's answer, so she further pressed him on comments Trump recently made when Trump described "fake news" media — citing the New York Times, CNN, Washington Post, among others — as the "enemy of the American people."
But again, Keilar got an answer she didn't expect.
"I wouldn’t say all the media is the enemy of the American people. But look, every day you pick up The New York Times they’re slamming, slamming, slamming him," Stein said.
That's when he started in on CNN.
"I’m a great fan of CNN. I watch it quite faithfully every day. CNN is slamming him, slamming him, slamming him. Every day they are looking for a scandal," Stein said.
They are just turning the woods upside down looking for a scandal. They are hoping, I think, to do what they did to Nixon a long time ago and still haven't found any scandals," he explained. "And with all due respect, I don’t blame him for being furious at them. And I think he's got a lot of company."
"An awful lot of people are not great fans of the media and they see the media as an unelected aristocracy ... who are dumping all over the mainstream of America, and I think Mr. Trump has a lot of company," he continued.
When asked if some of the negative media coverage of Trump is "self-inflicted," Stein continued his rant against the media.
"There's no doubt some of this is self-inflicted. But I think this general idea that the press can just hack and hack and hack away at the president that he is expected to sit there and take it is not a sound idea," Stein said. "I've noticed, day after day, week after week, everything is negative — not one positive response."
"This is a guy they are smearing, smearing, smearing all the time," he added. "I don't blame him for wanting to fire back at them."
Later in the interview, Stein said the media is trying to do to Trump what they did to Nixon, explaining that the media is hyper-focusing on micro issues and blowing them into macro issues in order to negatively shift the public's perception of Trump and his administration.
"They're trying to undo [Trump] basically before he even gets started," Stein explained. "I think it's extremely unfortunate. The country has real problems and for them to be focusing on trying to bring down this guy before he even gets started is a serious mistake."
Watch Stein's full interview below: