CNN contributor and former Clinton administration official Joe Lockhart compared remarks that Trump lawyer Alan Dershowitz made in defense of President Donald Trump on Wednesday to something that would be said by dictators Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.
CNN played a short clip of Dershowitz’s remarks from the Senate floor on Wednesday: “Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest and mostly you’re right. Your election is in the public interest and if a president does something that he believes will help him get elected, in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.”
Lockhart responded, “What I thought when I was watching it was: this is un-American. This is what you hear from Stalin. This is what you hear from Mussolini, what you hear from authoritarians, from Hitler, from all the authoritarian people who rationalized, in some cases genocide, based what was in the public interest.”
CNN’s host Erin Burnett did not push back at all on Lockhart’s remarks.
CNN contributor Scott Jennings later pushed back when it was his turn to talk, saying, “By the way Erin, if I may, I just have to respond to something that my friend Joe said and I’m not there to elbow him in the ribs.”
“I don’t think it’s appropriate frankly, to compare the president of the United States to Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, and people who commit genocide,” Jennings continued. “We can have political arguments about this, but I don’t think that anything this president’s done, that the Democrats have done, that either of their legal teams have done, rises to the level of Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, and people who commit genocide.”
“I think to me, is not a proper comparison, honestly,” Jennings said.
Former Clinton Press Secretary Joe Lockhart just went on CNN and compared @realDonaldTrump to Stalin, Hitler, and Mussolini.
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) January 30, 2020
Last week, Lockhart admitted that he completely fabricated an entire conversation between two Republicans Senators.
Lockhart tweeted: “Overheard convo between two Republican Senators who only watch Fox News. ‘is this stuff real? I haven’t heard any of this before. I thought it was all about a server. If half the stuff Schiff is saying is true, we’re up shit’s creek. Hope the White House has exculpatory evidence.[‘]”
Lockhart later added, “Ok maybe I made up the convo, but you know that’s exactly what they’re thinking.”
Ok maybe I made up the convo, but you know that's exactly what they're thinking.
— Joe Lockhart (@joelockhart) January 22, 2020
In August, a psychiatrist claimed on CNN’s Brian Stelter’s show: “Trump is as destructive a person in this century as Hitler, Stalin, Mao were in the last century. He may be responsible for many more million deaths than they were. He needs to be contained but he needs to be contained by attacking his policies, not his person.”
Stelter offered no push back on the inflammatory claims.
The claim was so outrageous that even left-wing PolitiFact rated it as “Pants on Fire,” which the most damning rating any statement can be given.
The death toll for each of the three 20th century dictators is subject to some disagreement and margin of error, but authoritative accountings suggest that each was responsible for the deaths of at least 10 million or more.
Yale University historian Timothy Snyder estimated in 2011 that Hitler caused between 11 million and 12 million deaths of noncombatants, and that Stalin caused a similar number if you include deaths from disease and famine.
Meanwhile, one calculation by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum estimated more than 17 million deaths caused by Hitler. Combat deaths from World War II, would push the number higher still. (Since Hitler and Stalin faced off in World War II, there’s a risk of double-counting in such calculations.)
Mao, for his part, may have exceeded them both.
Ian Johnson, the author of “The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao,” estimated in 2018 that Mao was responsible for perhaps 42.5 million deaths, of which the largest number came from a preventable famine stemming from his Great Leap Forward policy.