On Friday, in light of President Donald Trump's tweet saying that “military solutions are ... locked and loaded” in the event that North Korea was to “act unwisely,” CNN's panel attempted to parse his words.
The discussion soon turned into an argument about whether Americans should be expected to read or focus on the entire tweet.
Richard Grenell, a former diplomatic aide to President George W. Bush who also worked as a spokesman for to four ambassadors to the U.N., argued that regardless of how charged the term “locked and loaded” might be, in context, Trump was pushing a defensive posture.
“They're missing the rest of the sentence, and I think it's really disingenuous and shameful not to continue the rest of the sentence,” he said. “He's talking about a missile defense program at this point. He's talking about playing defense! He's saying if they should act.”
When Grenell prompted CNN Politics Reporter and Editor-At-Large Chris Cillizza for a response, Cillizza was a bit confused, saying that he agreed with Grenell.
Grenell argued that focusing on “locked and loaded” without reading the whole tweet missed the point of the statement, at which point the conversation got back on track, even if Cillizza disagreed.
“I do think you have to look at the fact that not every person is going to read every word of that particularly given what Donald Trump has said,” Cillizza explained. But “to assume everyone around the world is going to read the entire thing,” he added, "I think misunderstands the way in which rhetoric and words matter.”
His point was, ostensibly, that rhetoric like “locked and loaded” distracted from the larger context of the tweet, but Grenell interpreted it as Cillizza saying that people routinely skip over large chunks of 140 character tweets. “I find that to be crazy,” he added.
He also argued that there should be more discussion of Barack Obama saying the U.S. could “destroy” North Korea by those objecting to the tweet, but host Chris Cuomo responded that this is much different because it's a more immediate threat.