Pete Buttigieg did a phenomenal job laying some blunt truth on Fox News and its viewers about Trump’s disrespect for U.S. troops. Sadly, the supposedly objective host cast doubt on Fox’s own reporting that confirmed that behavior. UPDATED.
As I’ve previously reported, Fox’s own Jennifer Griffin confirmed key points of the bombshell reporting that Trump called fallen soldiers “suckers” and “losers.” She reported on that during Bill Hemmer Reports, a daytime show, and on Special Report, which airs at 6 PM ET.
But on last night’s The Story with Martha MacCallum, which airs after Special Report and whose host supposedly embodies “ultimate journalistic integrity,” substitute host Jon Scott acted as though nothing had been confirmed by Fox. “How do you know it’s accurate? How do you know it’s true?” Scott asked Buttigieg.
Buttigieg had great answers for nearly every question.
BUTTIGIEG: That’s easy. I mean, this is a pattern we’ve seen from the president throughout his life. When he was a young man, he faked a disability so he could avoid serving when it was his turn. We’ve watched him refer to prisoners of war, like John McCain, as losers, with our own eyes.
Look, if you’re watching this at home, here’s how willing Donald Trump is to insult your intelligence. Today, he denied that he ever called John McCain a loser. Now again, if you’re watching this at home, grab your phone, go on Google, you can see video of him doing it, you can see a tweet of him doing it.
FACT CHECK: Buttigieg is correct:
Trump tonight: "I never called John a loser"— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) September 4, 2020
Video: Trump calling John McCain a loser pic.twitter.com/CKOBsVoBuo https://t.co/sa2lncSJcm
BUTTIGIEG: So, I think it’s pretty easy to figure out who to believe. … Fox News, itself, has confirmed many of the details of this story. So, here’s the bottom line: the president thinks people who play by the rules or people who sacrifice for others are suckers. He thinks people who pay their taxes are suckers. He seems to think Christians are suckers. He’ll just hold up the bible as a prop without ever seeming to look into it.
This is part of a clear, consistent, repeated pattern of behavior, although I will say these revelations about just how much this president disrespects the military do represent a new low.
Still ignoring Fox’s own reporting, Scott cited five present or former Trump staffers who say they were with him at the time in question and that nothing of the kind ever happened. Of course, he didn’t note that neither Gen. John Kelly nor then-Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joe Dunford, each reportedly present for some of the remarks, have contradicted the reporting. One of the fallen soldiers Trump disrespected was Kelly's son.
Buttigieg noted that multiple sources and multiple reports have confirmed the reporting. “But if you don’t want to believe that, believe your own eyes because this president has been disrespecting the military from the day that he let some sucker, in his view, go in his place to serve in Vietnam because he didn’t want to,” Buttigieg shot back.
Scott seemed nonplussed. He stumbled a bit before moving on to read quotes from the Trump allies who have denied the reporting. He never cited Griffin’s reporting.
BUTTIGIEG: Look, the president today lied on Twitter about never calling John McCain a loser. Now he’s asking us to believe that OK, he’s lying about that today, ‘cause we can check and see the footage, but he’s not lying about the other stuff? He must think we’re all suckers and the amazing thing to me is how little respect he has for the intelligence of his own supporters. …
Look, this is a lot bigger than whether the president went to a ceremony or not. This is a fundamental disrespect that we have seen the president show. We’ve seen it with our own eyes in the statements he’s made in public. It just turns out that we’ve got a lot of people from inside the administration willing to reveal that behind the scenes it’s even worse.
Scott again seemed nonplussed. He changed the subject to Trump’s military budget increase. “He says he supports the military with everything, including the national checkbook,” Scott said, still ignoring Griffin's reporting.
BUTTIGIEG: Well, ask yourself this. If somebody you love went to serve, if somebody you know didn’t come back, does the president signing off on some big program to you make up for the insult of him describing Americans’ war dead as losers? To me, the answer’s pretty clear.
And, by the way, if you’re a Republican and you’ve always voted Republican, and it’s hard for you to join the many Republicans who are walking away from this president, think about this. Years later, we’re gonna look back on this moment and see that you could either be a John McCain Republican or a Donald Trump Republican. But you gotta choose. Think about which you’d rather be.
That last bit was probably Buttigieg’s only mistake. Because Fox and its viewers long ago chose Trump over McCain.
As great as Buttigieg was, Fox followed up with a spokesman from the Trump campaign, who was allowed to lie without pushback from Scott. I hope to post about this later.
However, that does not negate the importance of Buttigieg’s appearance, in my view. I think it’s important for strong voices to go on Fox and push back against the propaganda. Even if he didn’t wrest a single mind away from devotion to Trump, he planted some important seeds.
You can see why I consider Buttigieg a Top Dog below, from the September 4, 2020 The Story with Martha MacCallum.
9/5/20 Update: I wrote this post last night and scheduled it for publishing today. After thinking about this overnight, I have another nit to pick with Mayor Pete: that he didn't confront Fox's propaganda. There's very little daylight between Fox and Trumpism and the fact that Scott was trying to gaslight viewers by pretending Fox had not verified the essence, is part and parcel of the problem.