While Fox promoted Maria Bartiromo’s testy exchange with Donald Trump about John McCain in advance, if anything, the message coming out of the full 20:19 interview was, “We’re still behind Trump, we just hate the McCain attacks.”
Trump got a pass on inflaming relations with Germany
Bartiromo started the interview by praising the U.S. economy under Trump and noting that the rest of the world is slower. “How are you going to keep this elevated growth going?” was her first question.
In his response, Trump attacked the Fed for raising interest rates, whining that growth would have been “much higher” if it weren’t for that. Then he complained about the EU and Germany, suggesting he wants to continue inflaming tensions there: “When Germany is sending cars and we virtually don't tax them, and yet they won't accept our cars, namely the European Union -- which frankly, treats us as badly as China.”
There were no questions from Bartiromo about how Trump’s ambassador to Germany (and former Fox News contributor) Ric Grenell has so antagonized that country that there have been calls for his expulsion.
Bartiromo allowed Trump to pretend there were no Russians helping him on Facebook and Twitter
Later, Bartiromo asked what, if any regulations, Trump might want to impose on social media. Trump changed the subject to boasti about his electoral victory in 2016, while still playing the victim.
TRUMP: You talk about the word collusion -- the collusion between the Democrats and these people is, it's ridiculous. It's hard to believe I won. If you think about it, I had Facebook, Google, Twitter, everybody against me. I have - the media is almost totally against me. And yet I won. 306 to 223. People can't even believe it, I won. Because I'm able to get the word out through my social media, because I have great social media - but I'll tell you, it's much tougher than it should be. I deal with Twitter. It's not right the way they do it. I know exactly what they're doing. They take people off my account. They make it very hard for people to join. I had a time, very recently ago, where I was picking up hundreds of thousands of people in a very short period of time. Now when I pick up -- and I guess I have way over 100 million on the different platforms --
FACT CHECK: Not only were Facebook and Twitter not against Trump, Russians used those platforms to help Trump.
Yet, Bartiromo never mentioned it.
Bartiromo’s questions about McCain were in contrast to the rest of the softball interview
At about 8:35, Bartiromo got to McCain. Her first statement, “I’ve got to ask you…” suggested she may have been instructed to challenge Trump about his unhinged attacks on McCain:
BARTIROMO: I've got to ask you about the news of the week. You spent a good portion of your time in Ohio the other day trashing John McCain. Senator John McCain is dead. Why are you doing this?
TRUMP: So it's not a good portion of my time, it's a very small portion. But if you realize about three days ago it came out that his main person gave to the FBI the fake news dossier. It was a fake, it was a fraud, it was paid for by Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. They gave it to John McCain, who gave it to the FBI, for very evil purposes. That's not good. And the other thing he voted against repeal and replace. Now he's been campaigning for years for repeal and replace. I'm not a fan. After all of this time, think of this repeal and replace, we would have had great healthcare.
BARTIROMO: But Mr. President, he's dead, he can't punch back. I know you punch back, but he's dead.
TRUMP: No. I don't talk about it. People ask me the question. I didn't bring this up. You just brought it up. You asked the question.
BARTIROMO Well, you talked about it this week.
TRUMP: You asked me the question. When I went out yesterday to the scrum -- they asked me the question. When they ask me the question, I answer the question. But you people bring it up. I don't bring it up. I'm not a fan. He was horrible, what he did with repeal and replace. It was -- what he did to the Republican Party and to the nation and to sick people that could have had great healthcare, it's not good. So I'm not a fan of John McCain, and that's fine.
FACT CHECK: Trump began his five-minute attack on McCain in Ohio earlier this week on his own, not because of any questions being asked.
Bartiromo gave Trump a pass on that falsehood. However, she did continue to press him on the imprudence of such rhetoric.
BARTIROMO: Do you feel a responsibility as president to bring the nation together? …
TRUMP: I do, I do. And I think I am, in a certain way, bringing it together. I can tell you that a big portion of this nation is united like it's never been united before. You look at our economy. You look at jobs. You look at African American -- the lowest in the history of our country, unemployment numbers, the best numbers they've ever had.
Hispanic. You look at Asian. You look at women; the best in 65 years -- best numbers in 65 years. I think I am bringing it together. I think I'm bringing it together –
BARTIROMO: Not by talking about John McCain.
TRUMP: I just said, you brought up a question, Maria. I didn't bring it up. I didn't mention John McCain until you asked me a question about John McCain. Now I could say I have no comment, but that's not me. But you shouldn't have brought it up. Actually I thought you weren't supposed to bring it up, but that's OK. You know, fake news every once in a while.
BARTIROMO: No. It's not fake news. You just told me why you have an issue with him. It's real news –
TRUMP: I have a very, a very serious issue. He handed something to the FBI on me. He knew it was a fake. He handed it to the FBI. That's an issue.
FACT CHECK: As Joe Lieberman explained in a column yesterday, McCain handed a file to the FBI that contained serious allegations against Trump. McCain would have been derelict not to have done so.
Bartiromo failed to mention that. She did however later state, “There were no conditions or stipulations agreed to ahead of that interview.”
Bartiromo helped Trump discredit the Mueller investigation
TRUMP: It's always interesting to me because a deputy [Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein] that didn't get any votes appoints a man that didn't get any votes [special counsel Robert Mueller] -- he's going to write a report on me. I had one of the greatest election victories in history. Would you say that's true?
BARTIROMO: Yes, absolutely.
FACT CHECK: Trump pulled off a stunning victory, yes. But he very narrowly won the electoral college votes that put him in office. He was also the biggest loser of the popular vote than any other electoral college winner.
Bartiromo moved on to the favorite subject of Trump and Fox viewers: suggesting the Department of Justice should be investigating Hillary Clinton more.
BARTIROMO: [T]he same group is running the Hillary Clinton investigation. And now we've heard from Lisa Page testimony, which was released, that the Obama Department of Justice suggested, "We're not going to bring charges, so get off of this." So during the campaign I remember you said, "Look, it's time to get away from Hillary Clinton. Let's forget about this now." Do you still feel that way? Or do you think you want to see accountability here, given the fact that now we know that the DOJ, under Obama, did say "We're not going to bring charges to the FBI?"
TRUMP: That's a great question. So when I won, I made my opening speech, everyone's shouting, "Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!" I said, "No, no, no, let's forget her. Let's get onto the future." But they have treated me so viciously, and they have treated me so badly and we did nothing wrong -- you look at the others -- and all of these people you hear about, that had nothing to do with Russia, Russia collusion, nothing.
It's all a big hoax. It's a witch hunt, and it's a hoax.
Trump went on and on in this vein. Bartiromo ignored the fact that the “witch hunt” has found many crimes, indictments, guilty pleas and the conviction of Trump’s former campaign manager – as well as the fact that evidence of “collusion” has already been seen.
Instead, Bartiromo responded by “asking,” “And will [Attorney General] William Barr follow this? Will he seek truth?”
Bartiromo’s challenges about McCain were certainly better than no challenges at all. But they hardly negate the rest of her sycophancy throughout this lengthy interview.
Recently, it has been reported that Fox chief Lachlan Murdoch wants to “nudge the network away from its close marriage to Trump.” Maybe this is a nudge but it’s hardly any significant distance.
Watch it below, from Fox Business Network’s March 22, 2019 Mornings with Maria.