Fox’s Outnumbered show did their best to downplay the significance of Michael Flynn’s guilty plea today. But cohost Rachel Campos-Duffy took the cake (with a chisel in it) for arguing that the only crime committed was the unmasking of Flynn by the Obama administration.
Fox’s strategy of avoiding the serious legal ramifications to Donald Trump of Flynn’s plea deal (he pled guilty to lying to the FBI) was obvious in the choice of the five cohosts for today’s show. There was neither a liberal nor a lawyer among them (though Fox judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano briefly joined them later).
After a lengthy report by correspondent Catherine Herridge, the first comment from Bill Hemmer, the show’s #OneLuckyGuy, was about the “anguish” Flynn must be undergoing. Cohost Sandra Smith murmured her agreement.
Nobody mentioned the anguish Trump and his family are almost certainly undergoing. But I suspect that was due to a fear of discussing what and whom Flynn is probably singing about in exchange for such a light plea deal. Even Napolitano called the situation a “nightmare” for Trump, though his description of the nightmare consisted of keeping the Russian story “front and center” in the public eye.
But the seriousness of the situation was belied by the reaction to cohost Campos-Duffy’s valiant efforts to suggest that the only real crooks are in the Obama administration.
CAMPOS-DUFFY: What confuses me is it’s not a crime to speak with the Russians. It’s a crime to lie to the FBI, that you spoke to the Russians and it’s still not clear to me as just a regular citizen how unusual it is to have these conversations with foreign governments which I think happens all the time. And the other thing I would point out is the only crime we actually do know of is the unmasking of Flynn which was a crime.
This was a talking point earlier put forward by Breitbart’s Joel Pollak. Trump and his pals have repeatedly tried and failed to make Obama administration unmasking the real crime of the Russia investigation.
It didn’t work now, either. Nobody picked up Campos-Duffy’s bait. Hemmer reminded her that we know Flynn committed the crime of lying to the FBI.
Perhaps the surest sign of the seriousness of the situation was the reaction of Trump loyalist Harris Faulkner. Rather than pick up on the unmasking, she said she wanted to know more about the substance of what Flynn lied about to the FBI.
Hemmer threw out a lifeline as he noted that every new administration strives for better relations with Russia “I don’t think the Trump team was any different.” Hemmer added that it was public knowledge that that was one of their goals.
But Faulkner shot back, “So why did [Flynn] lie about those meetings [with the Russians] then?”
Note the undertones of “Holy s***” underneath the attempts to downplay the news below, from the December 1, 2017 Outnumbered.
UPDATE: Media Matters caught guest Matt Schlapp deploying a similar deflection on America's Newsroom.