In addition to downplaying Donald Trump’s violent rhetoric against NYC DA Alvin Bragg, Fox News Sunday host Shannon Bream and legal analyst Jonathan Turley, with assists from contributors Brit Hume and Trey Gowdy, also gave Trump a pass on his “stolen election” lies.
Anchor Bream amplifies Trump's inciting rhetoric and Big Lie about the 2020 election without noting the falsehood
Bream began by playing an incendiary clip from Trump’s rally in Waco, Texas Saturday night. In it, he railed against Manhattan DA Bragg, who will reportedly soon charge Trump over his fraudulent hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. The clip also showed Trump repeating one of his incendiary lies about the 2020 election:
TRUMP: The innocence of people makes no difference whatsoever to these radical-left maniacs. It is worse, actually, in my opinion – hard to believe anything could be worse than this, but I think it’s worse than ballot stuffing or media manipulation by the FBI, working together with Twitter, Facebook and the rest.
Dominion Voting System’s $1.6 billion defamation case against Fox just made public the fact that the network's high-ranking personnel knew the 2020 election was not stolen, yet repeatedly promoted the lie anyway and penalized the “news” side personnel who told the truth.
Yet, instead of correcting Trump’s lie or noting that Bragg is already receiving death threats, on the heels of Trump's previous incendiary rhetoric, Bream moved on, thus suggesting there was nothing wrong with Trump’s comments and that it was all a matter of opinion. Then she called on three like-minded guests to promote the same Murdoch messaging. No one pointed out that Trump was still spreading dangerous falsehoods about the 2020 election, which he lost.
Fox's Jonathan Turley doesn't bother to wait for an actual NYC indictment before attacking the non-existing one
Bream began by turning to MAGA legal hack Jonathan Turley. He wasted no time going after Bragg, thus implicitly validating Trump’s rant, albeit with less inflammatory but more “expert” language:
TURLEY: [Prosecutors] don't have discretion to create their own laws and what is being done here is something that most of us consider really beyond the pale. … Bragg is taking a New York misdemeanor which, by the way, is expired. It only is a two-year special limitations and he’s essentially bootstrapping that into a felony. But he intends, according to reports, to prove a federal crime that the Department of Justice, itself, declined to prosecute.
Just like Rep. James Comer (R-KY), Turley “forgot” to mention that the DOJ decision not to prosecute Trump over the hush money reportedly had nothing to do with whether or not Trump was guilty. But Turley went on to claim that while Bragg is “losing already in the court of public opinion,” he’ll get a New York jury pool where the chance of finding a Trump supporter is “about the same as finding a Triceratops.”
Turley doesn’t know what crime or crimes Trump may be charged with nor does Turley know all the evidence that a grand jury has been examining that may result in their handing down an indictment. But rather than wait to see what the charges are, if any, and what the evidence is, Turley predicted a New York judge will “look askance at this and say, ‘Wait, you’re a state prosecutor and you’re gonna prove a federal crime?’ I think [Bragg’s] got a rough road ahead but what he has done is handed Trump proof positive of his long narrative: this is a political prosecution.”
Bream and Brit Hume complain Trump's rhetoric is bad for Republican politics, say nothing about how it's bad for democracy, rule of law or civility
Bream, who has a law degree, finally got around to bringing up a scathing editorial in the Murdochs’ New York Post. It agreed that this is a political prosecution and that Trump has a right to be upset but lambasted his “unhinged, vindictive and self-defeating” mob-like attacks on Bragg. By wild coincidence that was the same message throughout this nine-minute discussion.
Turning to Hume, Bream reiterated Turley’s dig at the possible New York indictment which, to be clear, has not happened:
BREAM: Brit, it sounds here, like the professor thinks, like many people do, either this case doesn’t happen or it falls apart or there’s an indictment without a conviction.
In addition to “discrediting” the case and attacking Bragg, i.e. validating Trump's attacks with different rhetoric, much of the remaining discussion was spent dissing Trump. Not for ratcheting up potential violence against an elected official, not for continuing to spread the Big Lie about the 2020 election, not for any unethical, immoral or criminal behavior (besides Bragg, there are a number of ongoing investigations that could result in criminal charges against Trump) but because Trump will be a liability for Republicans in 2024.
It began when Bream “asked” Hume whether Trump is “stepping on a potential victory for himself with the reaction" to his likely indictment.
Why, yes, Hume thought so!
HUME: You know, it’s been widely speculated that this prosecution by Alvin Bragg, on the theory that he’s espousing here, or seems to be, will help Trump politically. I have my doubts. … My guess is it won’t have all that much effect [on his chances of getting the Republican nomination] but when you turn to the question of whether he could be elected president again, you have to ask this question: Would this prosecution motivate a single voter who did not vote for him in 2020 to vote for him in 2024? And I think the answer to that is pretty clear. I don’t see a single voter who refused to vote for Trump four years ago, or nearly three years ago, turning in his favor now, after he’s been indicted and might be indicted for further investigations.
Irony alert! Trey "Benghazi" Gowdy accused Bragg of engaging in a political prosecution - which has not happened yet
Bream demonized Bragg a little further before turning to her last guest, former Congressman Trey Gowdy (Benghazi-SC)
BREAM: So, Kimberley Strassel has a piece in the [Murdochs’] Wall Street Journal that says this: “If Mr. Bragg acts, the precedent will be set. America will officially become a country like Bolivia or the Philippines, where prosecutors of one political party arrest leaders of a rival political party.
And who better to ask about this than Gowdy, the guy who made a name for himself spending two years and $7 million of taxpayer dollars investigating Secretary of State and future presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over the Benghazi attack, only to finally acknowledge that there was no significant wrongdoing by her in a report that did not differ substantially from other reports issued by Congress? That’s the same Trey Gowdy who, as Media Matters noted, lost interest in Benghazi once Hillary Clinton lost the election.
Gowdy delivered the “Demonize Bragg, gently chide Trump” message, too.
GOWDY: I do think Kimberley is right. I think our justice system is in a really, really dangerous point. I mean, anyone who doesn’t think we can find a red-state prosecutor or attorney general to go after a Democrat. The justice system, she wears a blindfold for a reason, Shannon. She’s not supposed to care about your political orthodoxy or your race or your gender.
This is by far the weakest of the cases upon which President Trump is under investigation, by far. It’s factually weak, it's legally weak, you got statue of limitations problems, you got witness credibility problems and yet, for political expediency, Alvin Bragg has finally found a crime he thinks is worth pursuing: not resisting arrests, not shoplifting, not drug offenses, but he thinks paying hush money – he doesn’t even think prostitution should be illegal, but paying for silence. So, we are at a dangerous point.
FACT CHECK: It’s not the paying of hush money, it’s the fraudulent recording of Daniels’ money as a payment to Trump’s then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, for legal services that Trump will probably be indicted for. Cohen actually served time for his role in the scheme. Surely, former prosecutor Gowdy knows that. But, funny, I don't recall Gowdy complaining over Cohen's charges or conviction.
GOWDY: [Trump is] in a good spot legally and factually in New York. Do not blow it by talking about death and destruction and holding a baseball bat.
Hume tells Congress: Let us handle the Bragg attacking!
Then Hume and Gowdy sent a message to Congress, which just happened to match another part of the Post editorial Bream had read: Drop the effort to subpoena Bragg for a show hearing.
HUME: I think, you know it might be wise for [Congress] to stay out of it. The case is faltering … what the House committee is doing is probably unnecessary from the legal point of view and foolish from the political point of view.
GOWDY: There are a thousand reasons to criticize Alvin Bragg but he’s not going to come before Congress and justify himself.
This is another good example of how Fox works as a MAGA propagandist, complementary to the GOP. There were three panelists with more or less the same point of view and an anchor who helped amplify the MAGA message without bothering with any fact checking. None of the four expressed a concern about a former president continuing to lie about and undermine the 2020 election nor about endangering a prosecutor or stoking violence.
You can watch it below, from the March 26, 2023 Fox News Sunday, a “news” side program.
While each of these individuals, particularly the Christianer-than-Christian ones like Bream and Hume, automatically inspires curiosity as to how they manage to live with themselves, I no longer find any of it funny.