Jesse Watters’ fill-in stint for Bill O’Reilly last Friday was marked by an uninterrupted streak of smarm and nastiness, specifically intended to smear and talk down Hillary Clinton.
It started in the lead-off segment that purported to be about Ted Cruz but soon morphed into a two-on-one smear fest of Hillary Clinton. The guests were Republican Andrea Tantaros and Democrat Jessica Tarlov.
Care to guess which one Watters repeatedly interrupted and tried to distract?
Tantaros and Watters essentially tag-teamed Tarlov. First, they threw the mud about “selling the Lincoln Bedroom” and, in the next breath, added in the Clinton Foundation and accused both Bill and Hillary Clinton of “pay-for-play.” When Tarlov tried to answer, she, unfortunately, accepted part of their premise.
TARLOV: I’m not at all going to say that there isn’t a murkiness, there certainly is and I think this is one of the things that drives her problem with the honesty and trustworthiness ratings and also for Donald Trump as well and I think that it doesn’t benefit any Hillary supporter to say, you know, she is squeaky clean. She is not. But there isn’t evidence...
The problem here was that Tarlov was essentially going along with Watters and Tantaros in saying that the public’s perception of Clinton’s trustworthiness comes from the candidate’s actions being “murky.” Rather than, say, 20+ years of smears and allegations from the right wing. Frankly, she should have reframed the answer to say that these allegations were the same tired ones that the right wing has been flinging since the 90s and that we should think about America's current problems rather than toss out decades-old attack lines in order to shore up the way-more-flawed GOP candidates.
But because Tarlov didn’t stamp that out, Watters continued to attack. He began citing Peter Schweizer’s New York Times articles. And rather than shooting back about his lack of credibility, Tarlov’s merely said “There is no smoking gun,” and that the allegation couldn’t be proven.
Once again, she was passively validating the criticism and only protesting that the other side couldn’t actually prove the criminality. So, of course, Tantaros took a quick shot, sneering that where there’s smoke, there’s fire and there’s so much smoke from the Clintons, “You’re coughing from all the smoke. No one can breathe any more.” Which Tarlov laughed at.
From there, Tantaros started in with a series of smears about Bill Clinton and the foundation. And heck, why not throw in a cheap shot about Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street? And why not make some more unsubstantiated accusations about Clinton somehow soliciting for the foundation while Secretary of State?
I counted something like five unanswered, below-the-belt punches that had Watters laughing before Tarlov was allowed to attempt a response.
And then Tarlov’s response was just to say that the foundation was taking money as the Bill Clinton Foundation, as if that were the real issue here. It would have been better to ask Tantaros if she wanted to spend ten minutes discussing each of her discredited and scurrilous accusations. Or Tarlov could have asked to see the transcripts of Ted Cruz’ various speeches to wealthy groups. She could have asked if anyone had wanted to see Ronald Reagan’s many speeches to wealthy groups back in the day. Or, better yet, she could have gone on offense and gone after Trump’s many, many moral shortcomings.
Instead, Tantaros started in on the email server and threw even more mud at the Clintons about supposed influence peddling. And on and on.
It wasn’t until halfway through the sixth and final minute of the discussion that Tarlov got around to pointing out that Donald Trump has “convicted felons” working for him.
Which led to this bizarre conclusion:
TARLOV: Are we agreeing that Donald Trump is a saint here, because I’m a little bit confused as to what’s going on...
WATTERS: And the Clintons stole the White House china. All right? Let’s not forget that.
TANTAROS: And the W’s off the keyboard.
WATTERS: That’s right. Andrea and Jessica, thank you guys very much.
We don’t mean to pick on Tarlov who seems like a lovely and decent person. But Fox News is not the place for playing like a gentlewoman.
Watch this perfect example of below-the-belt "debate," from the April 8 The O’Reilly Factor.
Ellen is correct. My original post noted that Jesse Watters and Megyn Kelly’s shows on the same night regarding Trump’s numbers would appear to have happened on different planets. The national numbers for Trump when put up against Clinton have been sobering for the GOP. Watters’ solution was inventive, to say the least.
I just became extremely irritated after watching Tarlov repeatedly play into Watters’ obvious plan. I would have preferred to see her make the point that he was offering a false premise that does not reflect what’s actually happening.
The situation is going to be a lot clearer after next Tuesday. And even more so after the following Tuesday.
He NEVER provides anything remotely intellectual or new. I wonder if he has that shitty grin on his face when he cleans Billo’s golf balls.