Cedric Richmond was having none of Fox host Bill Hemmer’s gotcha questions on one of the GOP network’s favorite hate mongering topics: settlement payments to immigrant families separated by Donald Trump.
It’s bad enough that Fox celebrated Trump’s cruel family separations but now Fox and its GOP Mini-Mes are whining about the Biden administration’s Department of Justice efforts to settle the multiple lawsuits the U.S. has been hit with as a result.
Hemmer was substituting for Chris Wallace who, ironically, was off because he had received the Panetta Institute Jefferson-Lincoln Award the night before “for his commitment to dedicated, responsible and bipartisan journalistic leadership.” He and the other recipients (Reps. Jim Clyburn and Liz Cheney) were selected in part because of their “loyalty to country above party [and] the importance of a transparent and unbiased press.”
Presumably, Hemmer was chosen to temporarily fill Wallace’s shoes because he would have demonstrated at least some of those qualities. Instead, we got just the kind of disinforming propaganda the Panetta Institute finds so concerning.
Rather than explain to viewers the context of the payouts to the migrant families, Hemmer focused like a laser beam on the Fox messaging that they will get an undeserved handout that will encourage an immigration tsunami of people of color.
Hemmer gave us a hint of what was to come with his first question on the subject to Richmond, a senior adviser to President Joe Biden: the “confusion” as to "whether or not the government will make payments to illegals.” For extra propaganda points, Hemmer used the distorted issue to promote the Fox talking point that Biden is senile.
There is nothing confusing, as Richmond later pointed out. But Hemmer did his best to suggest otherwise, first with a clip of Biden, saying on Saturday, that a family who lost their child “deserve some kind of compensation. no matter what the circumstance.” Hemmer juxtaposed that with a clip of Biden, on Wednesday, having a back and forth with Fox correspondent Peter Doocy after he asked the “question” whether the settlements “might incentivize more people to come over illegally.”
From the clip played by Hemmer:
BIDEN: If you guys keep sending that garbage out, yeah. But it's not true.
DOOCY: So, this is a garbage report?
It’s obvious Hemmer was mixing apples and oranges. Biden was calling Doocy’s fear mongering about settlements incentivizing migrants “garbage,” not saying that the report on settlements were garbage.
But Hemmer acted like he had uncovered something seriously important:
HEMMER: So, within an hour of that comment, the ACLU said, quote, President Biden may not have been fully briefed about the actions of his very own Justice Department, and went on from there.
Was he in the loop to begin with?
Richmond had the perfect response:
RICHMOND: The president is in the loop. But the president said at the beginning of his administration, on the campaign trail, that he would have an independent Department of Justice, that he would not direct the Department of Justice what to do.
And if you go back to the question, the question was from a Fox reporter asking about whether compensation for being separated and losing a child would be an incentive to come to America. And what he was saying was that was an absurd question from the beginning. No one's coming somewhere to lose their child, to be separated from their loved one.
And the question is so insensitive, disrespectful, that that’s what he was commenting to.
And I would ask a question of you whether you support that. I mean, at some point, we cannot with a straight face say that parents are willing to separate from a child for a dollar amount. That’s just not true. And we should not talk like that.
We keep saying we’re better than that, but we’re not acting like that.
Hemmer kept pounding away at his propaganda, now trying to snare Richmond on the amount of the payments.
HEMMER: If the amount is not $450,000, what amount is it?
RICHMOND: That's for the Justice Department to decide. If it shows that it saves taxpayers' money, if it rights a wrong and the Justice Department determines that there is compensation that should be paid, that is an independent Justice Department.
But, again, the question is, we took children - that President Trump took children from their parents and some children have never been returned. Do we think that's okay?
Now Hemmer feigned a sense of decency, while continuing to try to ensnare Richmond:
HEMMER: There are others who make the case about the victims of fentanyl abuse that crossed the border. There are others talk about the women who were abused along the track across the border as well.
But just back to this amount of $450,000. That would be about four times the amount that we afford Gold Star families.
RICHMOND: We -- we don’t talk dollar amounts. That is the Department of Justice. The question about whether it is an incentive to come across to the United States to be separated from your child so that you can get paid is an absurd assumption.
HEMMER: So, there will be --
RICHMOND: No question.
HEMMER: Yeah, there will be a settlement then from this administration. That dollar amount to be determined, am I clear on that?
RICHMOND: No. I want to be clear about this. We do not tell the Department of Justice what to do. The Department of Justice is an independent agency.
HEMMER: I understand that. But what you're saying is that you would be okay with a payment of a certain amount, correct?
RICHMOND: I don’t approve or justify what DOJ does. If DOJ determines that it saves the taxpayers’ money and it rights a wrong, then they will make the determination that is necessary. And I would assume if they make a determination, they’ll come up with what they think is an adequate dollar amount.
I have long advocated for Democrats to go on Fox and confront their tactics fiercely. Given that Richmond is a White House adviser, he could not go after Hemmer with everything he deserved.
But Richmond did darned well.
You can watch it below, from the November 7, 2021 Fox News Sunday. The relevant portion begins at about 7:11.