Fox News Found Trump’s Border Crisis Dubious, too. Surprised?

Since the government shutdown continues, with more pressure put on both sides, I figure it is useful to support my blasting of Trump’s phony border crisis with comments from Fox News.  I mean the real news, not the propaganda side of the network headed up by Sean Hannity.

Fox News  is a four letter word, so to speak, to most liberals.   I share some of that feeling.  However, few liberals seem to realize there are also serious news people at Fox whose work equals the best around in my opinion.   News Director Sheppard Smith and prime time interviewer Chris Wallace head up that list.

To give you a sense of  how each stands, Smith has said he didn’t think he would be able to work on the opinion side of the network, while Hannity has called Smith likable but “clueless”.  Meaning, I guess, he doesn’t feel comfortable with “alternative facts.”

I believe Smith actually tries to live up to the “fair and balanced” motto that appears a joke when Hannity and his ilk speak.   And Wallace is arguably the most probing interviewer on television.  His interview of Vladmir Putin was the toughest I’ve ever seen (google it), and such a stark contrast to toady Trump’s fawning over Putin, impressed that the ruthless dictator “denied strongly” Russian interference in our elections.

I like both Smith and Wallace enough to usually tape their programs,  Smith’s at noon PST week days and Wallace’s Fox Sunday News at 11:00 or 4:00 PST Sunday afternoons.

Now let’s look at how they reacted to Trump’s fictional facts about the border emergency.

 

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The Nunes Memo Doesn’t “Vindicate” Trump, but his Base Probably Believes Him

(If you have little idea of what the Nunes memo is, I suggest you look at this primer provided by the Washington Post.   The matter is too complicated for me to describe simply and shortly.  Or first read what I’ve written and go to the Post for details and clarifications.)

As you have probably noticed, the Nunes memo has been the foremost political story over the past few days, with Trump and his supporters claiming it proves FBI malfeasance in how it began to surveil the Trump team for possible collusion with Russia and for a cover up of that.  Trump’s claim that the memo “vindicates” him only may seem true if you abandon all logic, like Trump’s TV mouthpiece Sean “hysterical” Hannity, who claimed the memo makes Watergate look like stealing “a Snickers bar.”

The surest evidence that Trump is not vindicated is that Trey Gowdy, and three other Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee which Nunes Chairs, all asserted on Sunday talk news programs the memo had no bearing on the Mueller investigation.

Neither Trump nor Nunes could have been happy about that conclusion, but Gowdy is yet another Republican who has decided not run again in 2018, so I think he cares more about protecting his reputation as a lawyer than pleasing Trump.

Gowdy, who was a federal prosecutor, and who for years investigated the hell out of Hillary Clinton’s role in the Benghazi tragedy (discovering little, but doing great damage to her reputation) is the only one on that House committee to actually have seen the evidence given to the FISA court, selected to do so by Chairman Nunes because of his legal background.

Let me repeat.  Gowdy was the only one on the committee to be allowed to see the FISA warrant evidence, so his opinion should mean more that those both on the committee and elsewhere, especially when those opinions attack it like the plague.

And Gowdy concluded  “I actually don’t think it has any impact on the Russia probe.” 

Well it shouldn’t impact the probe, but Trump will continue to make the memo mean whatever he wants it to  (and his Greek chorus at Fox News and other conspiracy hot beds will amplify the nonsense).  Trump will certainly gather whatever alternative facts he can think up that maintain the illusion he is being unfairly prosecuted by those biased towards Democrats, while ignoring the inconvenient fact that all the top guys he has fired and/or criticized in the DOJ and the FBI are Republicans, most of whom he nominated.

However, this figures to muddy the waters enough to allow his base to support him whatever the conclusion of the Mueller probe.  It also might embolden Trump to find other ways to impede the that probe through additional firings, a topic I’ll save awaiting to see if it materializes.

Today the House Intelligence committee will vote on releasing the Democratic memo in response to the Republican one.  If released (which now seems likely), Trump will have five days to figure out what to do with it.  Who knows what he’ll dream up?

Meanwhile the government is scheduled to shut down again Thursday, which in reality is a more substantial topic, but more boring (kick the can a few more feet down the road anyone?), so the Nunes memo and its after effects seem likely to continue to get higher ratings.


CORRECTION:   When publishing this earlier today I mistakenly indicated Sally Yates, one of several high ranking staff in the FBI or DOJ who Trump fired or resigned, is a Republican as are the others.  No, she is a Democrat.   Sorry, but she is the exception.

The Truth about the “Holes” Meeting and why Care?

Did Trump say “S…holes” or some variation (e.g “houses”) at that ….meeting?  We have two Republican Senators who now say he did not, Tom Cotton and David Perdue, after initially saying they couldn’t recall, and Republican Lindsay Graham and Democrat Dick Durbin saying he did say those things, so someone is clearly lying.

You may well be thinking what is one more lie among Trump’s ever growing galaxy of fabrications.  I say once in awhile we should pin one down for it will likely have future implications.  With a government shutdown pending and both parties blaming the other, it seems important to pin down what happened at that meeting and who is lying about it.

A New York Times piece today described that meeting well, so I ask you to go to that link to get a fuller picture, but not quite yet.

Here are two reasons to believe Graham and Durbin.  For one, Graham has tried hard to stay on Trump’s good side (including some games of golf) so they could work together, while maintaining some integrity in the process, meaning he will criticize Trump but he tries not to trash him.

That tight rope walking left him at first both supporting Durbin while not exactly accusing Trump of those words, until Perdue and Cotton suddenly located their memories in time for talk shows last Sunday where they were sure the “holes” word was not used.  Their lies were too much for Graham to take, so he came out with stronger words backing Durbin.

My point being, Graham didn’t want this to happen, but after working on a compromise with Durbin that Trump seemed to like, he just wasn’t going to roll over for the president and the party when it was so clear to him who was lying.

Here’s a second reason to believe Graham and Durbin:   At that Senate hearing Tuesday, homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen actually claimed she did not know whether Norway was predominantly white, in response to a question referring to Trump’s racial bias.  Huh?

That prompted another Senator to question Nielsen’s competence for the job and for Stephen Colbert to make a joke about it, her Nordic name making the ignorance particularly odd.  But I watched her prior to that and she looked quite capable to me until she started dodging questions as to what was said at that meeting which she attended (“I can’t recall….there was a lot of tough language used from both sides”….never giving exact words she heard).

I say she was in such a CYA mode trying to shield the president that she responded to the Norway question as if it were a trick.  So the safest answer that second was  “I don’t know”.  Dumb as it seems now and proof she was hiding her real knowledge of the meeting.

My point in all of this is the shut down we will soon face could have been avoided had this meeting not devolved into the sewer (to maintain a theme).  So, it matters who is telling the truth about the meeting when it comes to the blame game.

In a televised meeting of Congressional leaders the Tuesday before the “holes” meeting Trump acted as if he welcomed the idea of more money for border security in exchange for legalizing the “dreamers”  (so many warm feelings I was expecting hand holding and Kumbaya to burst forth), but by meeting time Thursday Trump’s mind frame totally changed, undoubtedly from negative reactions from his base.  Cotton and Perdue, hardliners on immigration, were obviously there to prevent Trump from flipping back to flop.

The seeds for a shut down were sewed in that meeting and Trump, Cotton and Perdue planted them.


P. S. NEWS FLASH:    Senate Minority Chuck Schumer is at the White House (10:35 a.m. Pacific Time) in what is reported as a one to one talk with Trump.  Could the two New Yorkers forge some kind of last minute deal to keep the government open?   It’s a matter of which Trump wants less, to have a government shut down marring  the celebration of his first year as president in Florida this weekend, or to have the base that he continuously courts unhappy with some kind of compromise.