Many have remarked that Fox News content has been moving leftward — apparently by design — over the past few years. The network was once a haven for people looking for truly “fair and balanced coverage,” per the Fox News slogan, and for many years, its coverage of the news and commentary was starkly different from that on virtually all of the other cable news and regular network coverage. That gap has been narrowing over the past two or three years to be almost indistinguishable – except for their nightly news programs (some of which have moved left, too) and a couple of weekend shows.
A whole cast of Democrat hacks has been added as “Fox News contributors” throughout the day, e.g., Robert Wolfe, Mo Elleithee, Marie Harf, Richard Fowler, Richard Goldstein, Austan Goolsbee, Jessica Tarlov, Donna Brazille, Mary Anne Marsh, and others. They are allowed to filibuster and are almost never challenged directly by the Fox News hosts. As a result, Fox News is becoming as unwatchable as are the likes of conspiracy network MSNBC, fake news king CNN, and Democrat networks ABC, CBS, and NBC.
What has gotten particularly bad lately – during this impeachment farce beginning last fall through the present – are the appearances of Democrat senators who are allowed to endlessly filibuster in order to present the Democrats’ false impeachment narrative without any push-back or follow-up questions by the various Fox News hosts who are ostensibly “interviewing” them. At the very least, all the Fox News hosts need to go to “interviewer school,” as just about any informed American could point out Democrat falsehoods and ask better questions of those senators than the Fox News hosts are doing!
Take for example the junior senator from Maryland’s appearance on “America’s Newsroom” yesterday. That would be Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who has appeared on Fox News several times over the past few months. I previously detailed one of his interviews here during which he floated some Democrat impeachment tactics. Here is what he had to say on Tuesday morning.
Ed Henry: Yesterday with this report about John Bolton, do you see that as a turning point in this trial that will now mean the door is open to witnesses?
Me: A truly horrible question! That NY Times article was based on hearsay from an unnamed source; they don’t even have the manuscript in hand, yet wrote a salacious article that was expressly intended to change the narrative surrounding the Senate impeachment trial. Henry assumes that the allegations are correct despite the fact that DoJ and the White House Chief of Staff’s office have already put out statements refuting the claims in that article. Yet, here was Henry setting up Van Hollen with a softball question consistent with the Democrat narrative (the “need for new witnesses”).
Van Hollen: I do, because it really becomes impossible for any senators to say they are seeking the truth in this trial to not call John Bolton as a witness. I think that’s also true of Mick Mulvaney who President Trump himself said back in December that he wanted to have as a witness at this trial. But, I think that all the momentum here now is in favor of calling relevant fact witnesses because the purpose of a trial is to get to the truth about what happened.
Me: First of all, I can’t stand Van Hollen’s smarmy, half-smiling, know-it-all presentation. The “calling of new witnesses” malarkey has been the Democrats’ narrative since the Senate trial began. They know that the House Democrats’ case is based exclusively on hearsay and the opinions of witnesses, and that the House Democrats ran roughshod over the President’s due process rights. The Democrats’ political push has been to effectively change the Senate’s responsibility as laid out in the impeachment clause from sitting as a jury to functioning as an investigative body because the House failed to legally subpoena witnesses.
Sandra Smith: Are you hearing any growing calls from some of your Republican colleagues in the Senate if they would be willing to call out new witnesses?
Me: I have liked Smith’s past interviews because she has frequently posed some good follow-up questions of her guests, but even she has seemed to pull her punches when interviewing Democrats lately (a Fox corporate directive?).
Van Hollen: Well, we have heard from two: Senator Romney and Senator Collins. Others have now expressed the view that it would be important to get these fact witnesses before the Senate as part of a trial. Again, we will see, but this is a major test of whether or not people want to have an impartial trial because everyone in America knows that when you have a trial, and it’s a fair trial, people get to call relevant fact witnesses and get relevant documents.
Me: This is Van Hollen pushing the narrative based on what he’s heard in the news. Notice that he won’t name a Republican with whom he’s had a real conversation on the subject. And he’s pushing the ‘impartial trial” nonsense that I previously debunked here by explaining what a REAL fair trial in the Senate would consist of. This is a political trial in which rules are set by a majority of the Senators; it’s not a trial in a court of law, as depicted on TV shows like Perry Mason. It would have been entirely appropriate for Henry or Smith to follow up and ask about Van Hollen’s conflation of the meaning.
Smith: Could you expand on that a little bit? Could you share names of colleagues that have shared in that thinking with you or possibly even numbers of Republicans ….?
Me: A weak follow-up question. Why not ask why the House didn’t issue legal subpoenas for those witnesses and documents as the Constitution charged them to do?
Van Hollen: As you’ve just reported, you have some Republican senators floating the idea of … if you have John Bolton, then you have the Bidens (testify) … I haven’t heard specifically of all the people they’re talking about. This is exactly why on the very first day of the trial, I proposed an amendment that says the Chief Justice of the United States – who was nominated by a Republican president – should in the first instance make the ruling for request for documents and relevant witnesses and apply the standard that judges do every day all over the country as to whether or not it’s gonna provide material evidence to get to the truth in a trial. I was very disappointed when Republicans voted it down, but I may renew that motion at this point in the trial because it finds a way address the issue and make sure it’s dealt with impartially.
Me: Here Van Hollen gives away the truth that he hasn’t had a single conversation with a Republican senator, and that all he is really doing in this interview is trying to move the “we need witnesses” narrative forward by claiming that Democrats have momentum (the momentum that is based on a false NY Times story). His amendment was bunk, as the Constitution clearly states that the Chief Justice “will preside.” That’s it, and the Senate is granted the sole responsibility for setting the rules for that trial. His amendment was voted down because the majority wasn’t going to cede their power and responsibility for conducting the trial to the Chief Justice to make arbitrary decisions on witnesses. The Senate will vote after the Q&A period later this week, just as SR 483 states. Furthermore, his amendment was voted down because the majority has no desire to change the constitutional responsibility of the Senate during impeachments from a jury to an investigative body simply because the House Democrats didn’t do their work properly.
Henry: Well, Senator, you mentioned Hunter Biden a moment ago. (showed a video clip of Republican Senator Ted Cruz making the case for why Hunter Biden should be called as a witness) Senator, a moment ago you talked about fact witnesses. There was testimony in the House Intelligence Committee by several officials that back in 2015 (that) there were conflict of interest questions raised about Hunter Biden’s role with Burisma, the energy company, while his father was overseeing policy.
Me: The first decent question asked although Van Hollen should have been asked a direct question about Pam Bondi’s devastating testimony that fully justifies calling Hunter Biden as a fact witness (assuming the Democrats want to keep pushing for witnesses – it is entirely unclear whether they are serious since they know that the Bidens would be exposed BIGLY).
Van Hollen: So, this is this sideshow of this trial. This is exactly what lay behind President Trump’s entire scheme to pressure the government of Ukraine to open these political investigations and use taxpayer funded assistance to Ukraine to do it …
Me: Weak answer! He knows full well it’s not a “sideshow,” and that the Bidens are in big trouble. As more people are exposed to Joe Biden’s “quid pro quo” video, there will be much more public support for investigating Biden corruption in Ukraine – a story that has been buried by the legacy media for years. The President was clearly concerned about corruption in Ukraine, and Bidens were directly involved, so Hunter Biden isn’t a “sideshow” at all, Senator.
Henry (interrupting): Did you see any entity ever investigate whether Hunter Biden receiving over $80,000 monthly was above board while his father, again, officially was overseeing Ukrainian policy? You call it a sideshow, but has that ever been looked at?
Me: A decent question, but Henry could have been much more specific, including bringing up Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin’s investigation into Burisma corruption and also referring to the very fine investigative work by John Solomon on Ukrainian corruption.
Van Hollen: So, first of all, with respect to the taking of a position on the board, Hunter Biden has conceded that that was a mistake. But there has been zero evidence of any legal wrong-doing and certainly no evidence that Vice President Biden acted inappropriately here, so to launch an investigation based on no evidence is very different than having an investigation and a trial based on considerable evidence. But, it gets me back to the point; let’s let the Chief Justice make that ruling in the initial instance just like we do in courtrooms every day, and if Ted Cruz wants to make the argument as to why a Biden may be a relevant fact witness here, he can do that, and the Chief Judge will make the decision just like judges do every day. That’s the fair way to adjudicate these witness questions.
Me: So Hunter Biden “made a mistake”? If he didn’t do anything wrong, why was it a mistake? Once again, Van Hollen was let off the hook and not pressed on that point. “No evidence that VP Biden acted inappropriately”? He’s seen Biden’s quid pro quo video and is lying through his teeth.
Then he changes the topic back to the Chief Justice making rulings about witnesses quickly because he can’t truthfully answer the question. We already debunked that nonsense.
Smith: If I could circle back on my original question. You said that, beyond Mitt Romney and Susan Collins, you were hearing from other Republican colleagues in the Senate of their willingness now for calling new witnesses. Is that a couple, is that a few?
Van Hollen: Well (stuttering), again, I don’t want to exaggerate this point. What I know is that is a number of Senate Republicans have talked about it – some of them in the context that you have just mentioned – you know, bringing in another witness that they want to call, and again the way to resolve this – the way you do in courtrooms every day – is to leave those decisions to the judge. In this case, that’s the Chief Justice of the United States.
Me: Once again, he tells us that he hasn’t had any direct conversations with Republican senators about witnesses and is only embellishing what he’s seen and heard in news reports. Pure political spinning.
Smith: So, Allan Dershowitz, a member of the President’s legal team, made his case on Bolton’s claims not changing anything when it comes to calling witnesses (shows video clip of part of Dershowitz’s testimony in which he stated that “nothing in the Bolton revelations – even if true – would rise to the level of abuse of power or an impeachable offense”). That is the case that the President’s team is making. How do you counter that, Senator?
Van Hollen: Right, so, this argument is of course is different than their main argument. They spent most of their time trying to claim that the facts don’t support the charges in the House impeachment claims, which is exactly why it’s important to have someone like a John Bolton and a Mick Mulvaney. But, as you indicate, they’ve also taken the position that … and this is the third different standard that Alan Dershowitz has applied to impeachment … the grounds for impeachment over a period of years … They’re now claiming if, even if all of this is true, that it’s not impeachable conduct, which leads to some very absurd conclusions, including one from Alan Dershowitz himself, which is that a President of the United States could say to Russia, “Hey, look; we’re going to give you back Alaska. And the President would say, okay, we’ll give it back to you in exchange for some political favors that will benefit me in the campaign.” Now, I think most Americans would agree intuitively, instinctively, that that constitutes an impeachable abuse of power, but Alan Dershowitz says, “hey, that’s okay.” What if a President says to Putin, “Go ahead and occupy all of Ukraine. We won’t contest that in exchange for doing me some political favors?” Again, there is no technical crime committed, it may not even meet Alan Dershowitz’s standard of criminal-like conduct. Really? You can’t impeach a president for that kind of conduct? That’s absurd, and so the Dershowitz position leads to terrible potential precedents.
Me: Van Hollen is trying to convince us that the two White House counsel arguments being made are mutually exclusive: (1) the facts don’t support the articles of impeachment, and (2) the conduct – even if true – was not impeachable. Sorry, Chris, BOTH arguments can be – and indeed are – true, just as the President’s legal team has patiently explained to you and the other senators. Then Van Hollen threw up a couple of strawman examples to attempt to “prove” the absurdity of Alan Dershowitz’s position. First of all, there are political remedies well short of impeachment that can be taken in both of those strawman examples. The Congress can pass binding legislation to prevent either of those scenarios from happening – by overwhelming House and Senate majorities that could override any presidential veto. But that’s not the most amazing aspect of Van Hollen’s strawman argument. Do you suppose he realized that he was projecting exactly what Obama did in those strawman scenarios? Obama actually allowed Russia to annex Crimea without any pushback in return for Russian support for Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran! And who but Obama garnered “personal political benefit” when the JCPOA was agreed to (never mind that he sent a pallet of cash to Iran to complete their bribery in order to get the deal done). Maybe Van Hollen is subliminally arguing that we should impeach Obama retroactively? Or maybe he needs to go back and actually watch Alan Dershowitz’s testimony which devastated the Democrats’ case for impeachment.
Henry: … Last question. The White House will get their chance … the White House legal team will get to make their final defense … and then we’ll have a question period, and then we’ll have potentially votes on witnesses (sic). Do you think this is a trial now that is going to have witnesses, and is going to drag on for at least a couple more weeks?
Me: That’s it? No tough follow-up questions to ask about Schiff’s serial lying, the lack of due process in the House, the illegal subpoenas in the House, etc.? Why not ask him the simple question of whether he seriously believes the Senate will vote to convict and remove the President from office, with the chaser about identifying the real political purpose for the Democrats trying to turn the Senate’s traditional responsibility for conducting an impeachment trial on its head?
Van Hollen: Well, it should have fact witnesses. I mean, look; if the goal of a trial is to get to the truth, which is what trials are supposed to be all about, then when you have the President’s lawyers claiming that there … John Bolton is making this up … well, the way you deal with that (as he continues to smirk and smile) you swear him in … you put him under penalty of perjury … so that if he lies to the Congress, he is subject to imprisonment. That’s why we have people testify under penalty of perjury. As for dragging it out, look. You’ve got the Chief Justice of the United States there. He can quickly adjudicate questions of executive privilege and decide what testimony is allowable and which isn’t, and the same goes for all the documents that have been requested. You know, this administration has denied access to any document … not a single document throughout the federal government, regardless of what federal agency it is … so, that’s unprecedented, that’s why we need to revolve it.
Me: Witnesses like Bolton are beside the point, Senator, just as the President’s legal team has laid out in their presentations: denial of due process, illegal subpoenas, the use of hearsay to justify articles of impeachment, the nature of impeachable offenses as intended by the Founders, etc. He needs to go back and listen carefully to the presentation by Patrick Philbin, Deputy White House Counsel, on Monday, in which he clearly described how the President followed the law and legal precedent every step of the way while the House refused to issue valid subpoenas for anyone or anything. And the notion that the majority be okay with a single justice – even if the Chief Justice – making a momentous decision on executive privilege without proper presentation and deliberation in a real courtroom is absurd. Finally, the House did not submit a single legal subpoena, which is why no witnesses or documents were produced!
Smith: Republicans are going to make the case that there were hours and hours and hours of hearings held in the House before it was ultimately taken up for a vote.
Van Hollen: Yeah, but the four witnesses that we focused on were all witnesses that the President ordered not to testify. Three of them were subpoenaed, and he told them not to testify, so again, you can’t sort of obstruct justice in an investigation to protect yourself against serious allegation of wrong-doing that rises to the level of impeachment. So, that’s why the House is doing this. This is not an appellate court. This is a trial, and every presidential impeachment in history … the President … the Senate has heard from witnesses. In the Andrew Johnson case many, in the Clinton proceeding three.
Me: Those three witnesses were ILLEGALLY subpoenaed, Senator, and you know it. It is not “obstruction of justice” for the President to pursue his due process rights – and to protect executive privilege – through the courts. To deny his due process rights is itself “obstruction,” just as Jonathan Turley testified to before the House Judiciary Committee in December.
This interview was just another in the latest string of disappointing exchanges on Fox News Channel. Shallow and weak questions asked, poor follow-up, no pointing out of factually incorrect statements (called “lies”), and a complete deference in allowing a Democrat senator to filibuster as opposed to get to the facts – which is the express duty of the Fourth Estate. If the agreement is such that, in order for the likes of Van Hollen to appear on Fox News, he be allowed to filibuster without tough questions being asked, then it is better not to allow the agitprop in the first place.
Be not fooled by the media; they have all gotten lazy, if not willingly and overtly supporting the Democrat narratives. Individual Americans need to do due diligence on everything reported through the legacy media, including by Fox News.
P.S. The President called out Van Hollen and FNC, too:
…..So, what the hell has happened to @FoxNews. Only I know! Chris Wallace and others should be on Fake News CNN or MSDNC. How’s Shep Smith doing? Watch, this will be the beginning of the end for Fox, just like the other two which are dying in the ratings. Social Media is great!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 28, 2020