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Right Opinion

Media Malpractice

Gary Bauer · Sep. 27, 2019

For the past 24 hours, the liberal media have engaged in tremendous journalistic malpractice. Virtually every outlet has represented President Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy as a call exclusively about former Vice President Joe Biden. 

For example, here’s how NPR and most media outlets presented the details of the call:

“I would like you to do us a favor,” Trump asked President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, according to the official account released on Wednesday. Later in the conversation, according to the memo, Trump said:

“I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation in Ukraine … There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that.”

That brief description leaves readers with the impression that the specific “favor” Trump requested was related to Biden. And, of course, that’s the basis for demanding Trump’s impeachment — that he abused his authority by asking a foreign government to meddle in the 2020 election by investigating a potential opponent. 

But that is a false interpretation of the call, and the worst possible spin.

The ellipsis in the second paragraph, representing words cut from the president’s conversation, covers more than 500 words! You can say a lot in 500 words, and the president did.

Here’s the “favor” quote in full context:

I would like you to do us a favor, though, because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… the server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people.

I would like to have the Attorney General call you and your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you said yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.

As you can see from the transcript, the “favor” isn’t about Biden or the 2020 election. Kimberley Strassel of The Wall Street Journal noted:

Trump’s actual “favor” is that Ukraine look backward, to what happened in the 2016 election. This is a legitimate ask, since election meddling looks to have come from both Russia and Ukraine.

Kudos to our friends at The Federalist for drawing attention to the media’s gross distortion of the facts. 

President Trump legitimately asked the president of Ukraine to cooperate with investigators regarding what happened in the 2016 campaign. He appointed an attorney general with the expectation that we could get to the bottom of this, and seeking the cooperation of a foreign government frequently requires presidential action. 

What the Democrats and the media are desperately trying to gloss over is what Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz and U.S. Attorney John Durham are currently investigating — the Deep State’s meddling in the 2016 election. 

This selective editing is not just bad journalism. It is media malpractice — deliberately misleading the American public to advance the radical left’s narrative and agenda. It is, as President Trump said, not just “fake news” but “corrupt news.”

The DNI Testifies

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire appeared yesterday before a rare public hearing of the House Intelligence Committee. Maguire, a former Navy SEAL, served 36 years in uniform until he retired as a vice admiral. 

Director Maguire was hauled before the committee to explain why he initially withheld a complaint from an intelligence community employee regarding the president’s call with the Ukrainian leader. Some have accused him of engaging in an illegal cover-up.

It’s a pretty poor cover-up considering that the White House has publicly declassified the complaint AND the transcript of the call AND permitted Maguire to testify publicly AND the president is talking about it. 

President Trump could have exerted executive privilege to block the release of this information if he really felt it was so damning to him. But he did not, and that speaks volumes. Moreover, there is a perfectly valid reason why the complaint was initially withheld from the congressional intelligence committees. 

Maguire explained that the allegations in the complaint were unprecedented in that they involved a phone call between the president and a foreign leader. 

The president is not an intelligence community official and the subject of the call did not pertain to an intelligence operation. Thus, he wasn’t certain whether the law governing the transmission of whistleblower complaints to Congress applied in this case. 

So he sought a second opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel, which determined that because the complaint involved a presidential phone call, the information was subject to executive privilege and not subject to the whistleblower law.

But that’s not the end of the story. 

As we noted in yesterday’s report, Maguire and the intelligence community inspector general both referred the complaint to the Justice Department’s Criminal Division for an additional review, which determined that no laws had been violated. 

Think about that for a moment: If you’re trying to cover up wrongdoing, do you send the evidence to the Justice Department’s Criminal Division?

So just to be clear, Maguire was presented with a complaint based on secondhand information from a biased individual that involved presidential communication subject to executive privilege. And he still goes the “extra mile” of ensuring that there wasn’t a violation of the law.

I think it is clear that Director Maguire behaved appropriately at all times. 

Schiff’s Skit

Someone who did not behave appropriately was Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff. 

As you may recall, Schiff infamously insisted that there was evidence of Russian collusion “in plain sight.” We later learned from Robert Mueller that Schiff’s charges were simply not true. Schiff lied for two years to stoke that drama and divide the country. 

Well, the drama continued yesterday. During his opening testimony, Schiff put on a little skit for the committee. He performed a dramatic reading of a “parody transcript” of Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president. Here’s what Schiff read before the committee:

We’ve been very good to your country. Very good. No other country has done as much as we have. But you know what, I don’t see much reciprocity here. You know what I mean? I hear what you want. I have a favor I want from you though. And I’m going to say this only seven times, so you better listen good.

I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand? Lots of dirt, on this and on that. I’m going to put you in touch with people, and not just any people. I’m going to put you in touch with the Attorney General of the United States — my Attorney General, Bill Barr — he’s got the whole weight of American law enforcement behind him. And I’m going to put you in touch with Rudy, you’re going to love him. Trust me.

You know what I’m asking, so I’m only going to say this a few more times, in a few more ways. And don’t call me again. I’ll call you when you’ve done what I asked.

It was a gross exaggeration intended to make the president sound like a criminal. And it was all fake. As Brit Hume noted, “If the conversation were as damning as Schiff et al would like, he would have simply read directly from it, instead of making up dialogue.”

Unfortunately, anyone not paying very close attention to the proceedings could have easily misunderstood Schiff’s parody and assumed that the president actually said those things. 

Democrats are demanding impeachment, an extraordinarily serious matter for the entire country. But Adam Schiff is putting on a big act to smear the president. 

The left will do virtually anything to destroy Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and the 63 million people who voted for them.

The Democrats, the Deep State, and their media allies never accepted the results of the 2016 elections. Now, with an election just a little more than a year away, they are refusing to trust the American people. They are determined to force Trump from office by any means necessary.

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