Instead of discussing the very damning substance of the New York Times report on Donald Trump’s taxes – and the potential national security risk of his large debt – “straight journalist” Harris Faulkner helped legitimize the Trump campaign’s conspiracy theory about the report.
Attacking the messenger is a nice way of avoiding having to discuss the very damning details revealed in the Times’ bombshell report yesterday. Also, burying the news as much as possible. As I reported preiously, Steve Hilton stuck it in a discussion with a Republican pollster and framed it as a “will this hurt Trump in November?” issue.
FoxNews.com did its part by calling the video of Trump campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley's appearance on Faulkner’s Outnumbered Overtime, “President Trump doubles down on VP Biden drug test demand before debate.” In Gidley’s softball 8:19 minutes with Faulkner, she brought up the subject at 2:40.
Like Hilton, Faulkner overlooked the national security risk of Trump’s potential $421 million conflict of interest, as well as how “real estate tycoon” Trump’s properties are struggling, and suggested that the only news from the report was that Trump only paid $750 in federal income taxes for two years and none for 10 years.
That was little more than an opening for Gidley to start spinning the report as a “hit piece” that nobody cares about. “It wasn’t an issue [when Trump first ran for president], it isn’t an issue now,” Gidley said.
Faulkner made no challenge.
Then Gidley came up with his conspiracy theory:
GIDLEY: It is interesting to note that the Joe Biden campaign, did already have, as soon as this story broke, little lapel buttons ready for all their supporters to be sold online, talking about this story and the president’s taxes.
So the coordination seems to be in lockstep so far.
But instead of telling that to her viewers, Faulkner seemed to endorse the conspiracy theory.
FAULKNER: They also had an ad. Let’s take a quick look.
This is the Biden ad Faulkner played a clip from. It was posted 19 hours ago, a few hours after the Times report dropped:
Teachers paid $7,239— Team Joe (Text JOE to 30330) (@TeamJoe) September 28, 2020
Firefighters paid $5,283
Nurses paid $10,216
Donald Trump paid $750 pic.twitter.com/5YE1cbYsBN
As Media Matters’ John Whitehouse pointed out, the ad was probably as quick to make as the buttons or t-shirts:
In reality, some stock footage combined with generic text is stunningly easy to make, and the video probably took just a few minutes to produce. Just because the Biden campaign can turn out professionally produced videos in a matter of hours doesn’t mean there’s a conspiracy; it’s just good production work. (If anything, I’d personally wager that it took longer for the campaign to settle on messaging for the video than to actually make the video itself.)
Whitehouse also noted that this same conspiracy theory has coincidentally been promoted by other Fox News talking heads, including “objective anchor” Bret Baier.
You can watch Harris help validate Gidley’s conspiracy theory below, from the September 28, 2020 Outnumbered Overtime.
Not only does Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner not push back on Trump spox Hogan Gidley's baseless allegation that the New York Times coordinated with the Biden campaign on the Trump tax story, she seems to endorse it:— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) September 28, 2020
"They also had an ad. Let’s take a quick look." pic.twitter.com/iW1dH8vzPa
I was almost expecting “Just you wait till your father gets home!”