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Watch: CNN anchor Keilar has stunning interview with Chris Collins

I was so stunned by the interview CNN’s Brianna Keilar did with Republican Rep. Chris Collins of Clarence Monday afternoon that I immediately sent out multiple tweets about it.

Here is the first one:

Here is the second tweet:

Here is the third tweet:

Of course, a media critic can’t say all he wants to say in a 140 character tweet as he can in a blog. What is often missing is background and context. So here is a little of both.

As the first congressman to endorse Republican nominee Trump, Collins has been one of the nominee’s go-to surrogates for cable news stations and often has done an impressive job in the role.

Keilar, who was substituting for Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s “The Situation Room,” has impressed as an interviewer who does her homework to the point that she can instantly fact-check questionable or false statements.

The issue Monday was the New York Times report that the Republican nominee’s tax return showed that he had lost $916 million in 1995, which could have allowed him to avoid paying federal income taxes for 18 years.

Collins had barely gotten a sentence out before he was challenged by Keilar.

Asked what he would say to hard-working constituents in his district, Collins said: “The public at this point doesn’t care anymore about Donald Trump’s taxes than they care about Bill Clinton’s affairs.”

“Can I stop you there, because polls actually show that they do,” said Keilar.

She added an “overwhelming majority” believe candidates should release their tax returns and that Trump is hiding something by not doing it, as CNN showed graphics that said 73 percent want the nominee to release his returns and 57 percent believe he is hiding something.

“Well, we can agree to disagree,” said Collins before being cut off.

“But what are you disagreeing about, because we have polls that show that,” responded Keilar.

When Collins named several wealthy American to support his belief no one pays more taxes than they are obligated to pay, Keilar quickly responded: “I believe Hillary Clinton does.”

Then she showed how deep her homework was by using a Western New York reference.

“When you are talking with something there at say Tops, your local grocery store, the assistant manager at one of the branches, would you say to them it is right that they pay more taxes than Donald Trump?” she asked.

“I think there is a good chance an assistant manager at a supermarket is not paying federal taxes,” replied Collins.

Collins apparently was suggesting that the assistant manager's salary would be so low that he or she wouldn’t pay taxes, one of the few comments that Keilar let slide.

Then Collins said of the tax question, “I don’t think it matters; you do” before going into Trump campaign talking points about what matters.

Keilar then explained to him that “it is not that I think people care. It is the polls show people care.”

The anchor then brought up Trump’s claim Monday afternoon that he lost the $916 million during a recession in 1995 that was almost as bad as the Great Depression of 1929 and far worse than the 2008 recession.

After saying that economic experts say real estate was actually on the upswing when Trump had his losses, Keilar asked Collins: “What is he talking about?”

When Collins started talking about something else, Keilar interrupted: “I’m asking why is he saying business was bad when it wasn’t actually bad, he just did poorly in business that year.”

“I go back and say, ‘who cares?’ ” replied Collins.

Soon, he was suggesting every real estate market is different.

Keilar explained it was a lucrative time in Trump’s market when casino licenses were limited.

“Well, even if that is the case, who cares?” replied Collins. “That was 21 years ago. Who cares other than the liberal press and Hillary Clinton?”

“Who cares?” said Keilar ending the segment, “73 percent of voters say they care about him releasing his tax returns.”

It was such a dominating performance by Keilar that I half-expected Collins not to come out for the next round after a commercial. But he did, delivering more Trump campaign talking points.

It wouldn’t be surprising if many Trump supporters thought Keilar was a little rough on Collins even though she was just doing her job and injecting facts into Collins’ argument.

His “who cares?” argument was his low point as a surrogate because it totally misses the point. When a nominee is running for president on his tremendous business success, many voters undoubtedly care about whether the facts support that claim.



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