On Friday, the nation’s eyes will turn to Washington, as Donald Trump is inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States.
While Trump’s inauguration has already generated plenty of buzz — mostly concerning which performers and politicians will and will not be attending — a CNN segment from Wednesday took a very different approach.
Namely, it examined what would happen if President-elect Trump, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, and all Congressional leaders in attendance were killed:
— ForAmerica (@ForAmerica) January 19, 2017
The segment — which aired on Wolf Blitzer’s “Situation Room” — was sure to note that “there is no specific, credible threat” to Trump’s inauguration.
As CNN’s Brain Todd explained, though, if an inauguration attack was to leave both Trump and Pence dead, it would normally be the Secretary of State who would assume control of the government.
With Secretary John Kerry leaving office, and Trump appointee Rex Tillerson yet to be confirmed, that power would currently fall to Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
If all such leaders were to be wiped out in an attack — as CNN explores in its scenario — the duties of Commander-in-Chief would roll down to “the highest-ranking nonpolitical official” in Obama’s State Department, in this case, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Tom Shannon:
While the CNN piece could have had a purely informational feel, it was the headline the network ran that seems to have painted things in a different light:
“Developing Now: Disaster Could Put Obama Cabinet Member in Oval Office”
Given our nation’s particularly divisive political state — not to mention the often tense relationship between Trump and CNN — many thought that the segment was in very poor taste:
Given the insane number of death threats against Trump, why is CNN inciting an attack on the inauguration? https://t.co/dbTfHqbXVJ
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) January 19, 2017
— Miss me (@Donttellyournew) January 19, 2017
— LIVEdude (@LIVEdude) January 19, 2017
Audiences have certainly shown interest in how the U.S. government would react to such a tragedy — the ABC drama “Designated Survivor,” for example, explores this very topic.
Still, such a discussion takes on a much different tone when it moves from fiction to reality, especially given the current political climate.
Whatever the case, it’s not exactly a great look for a network that was not only embroiled in a scandal to aid Trump rival Hillary Clinton during campaign season, but that has just recently come under fire for reporting on unverified information that paints the president-elect in a very negative light.