Instead of apologizing for the international incident press secretary Sean Spicer caused by accusing British spies of working in cahoots with the Obama administration to wiretap him, Donald Trump sloughed off responsibility and blamed Fox News, Spicer’s source. In return, Fox News got around to issuing a statement that there’s no evidence to support the claim three days after it was made by pundit Judge Andrew Napolitano.
As explained in my previous post, Spicer cited Napolitano’s accusation yesterday as part of what looks like a desperate effort to shore up Trump’s claim that Obama wiretapped him. Trump’s evidence-free claim has been disputed by Obama, the national intelligence director, the F.B.I. director, the Republican Speaker of the House, and the Republican chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. Today, Republican Congressman Tom Cole said Trump owes Obama an apology.
But Spicer’s attempt to save his boss’ face over what was clearly a lie, had disastrous consequences. From The New York Times:
The [British signals agency] GCHQ quickly and vehemently denied the contention on Thursday in a rare statement issued by the spy agency, calling the assertions “nonsense” and “utterly ridiculous.” By Friday morning, Mr. Spicer’s briefing had turned into a full-blown international incident. British politicians expressed outrage and demanded apologies and retractions from the American government.
“We said nothing,” Mr. Trump told a German reporter who asked about the matter at a joint White House news conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel. “All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn’t make an opinion on it.” He added: “You shouldn’t be talking to me. You should be talking to Fox.”
After the news conference Mr. Spicer echoed Mr. Trump’s defiant tone. “I don’t think we regret anything,” he told reporters. “As the president said, I was just reading off media reports.”
In other words, the White House is claiming it has no responsibility to make sure a pundit’s accusation is true, no matter how inflammatory.
Fox News is dodging responsibility, too. Today, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith played the role of fact checker and truth teller when he responded:
Of course, the president could learn first-hand whether the building in which he lives was wiretapped. All he’d have to do is ask the intelligence services. They work for him.
Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano’s commentary. Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-president of the United States was surveiled at any time in any way.
Before you get excited over Smith’s independence, consider the fact that he offered no explanation as to why Fox let Napolitano’s accusations go unvetted until now.
Napolitano made his accusations on the March 13, 2017 The First 100 Days and the next morning on Fox & Friends. Media Matters summed up his statements:
Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano claimed on the March 13 edition of Fox News’ The First 100 Days that “if then-Mr. Donald Trump, the president-elect, was surveilled as he says he was, … it was done by a foreign intelligence entity,” Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), at the request of former President Barack Obama. The following morning, Napolitano again claimed on Fox that “three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command” and “used GCHQ” to acquire “transcripts of conversations involving candidate Trump,” ensuring that “there is no American fingerprints on this” and no evidence of the alleged surveillance.
During each interview, Napolitano referenced "sources" for his claim. On The First 100 Days, he said, “This is what sources in the Intelligence Community have told Fox.” On Fox & Friends, he said, “Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News,” that Obama went to the GCHQ. In a Fox News op-ed yesterday, Napolitano said, “Sources have told me that the British foreign surveillance service, the Government Communications Headquarters, known as GCHQ, most likely provided Obama with transcripts of Trump’s calls.”
But apparently, Fox News felt no need to check Napolitano’s assertions until today, after the stink spread to the network.
Watch Smith below, from the March 17, 2017 Shepard Smith Reporting and Napolitano’s allegations from the March 13, 2017 The First 100 Days and the March 14, 2017 Fox & Friends.
Must also extend my heartfelt thanks to President Trump for being totally unable to back down. Methinks that a EOF’s friend is not the only person to wonder “what the hell is going on?!”
Gracious — its like a worldwide telephone game . . .
Talking to a leaning right, wholly independent very close friend who has had her eyes opened since the election and now no longer blows off Fox or sees Trump as funny, she’s of the opinion Trump continually citing Fox News as a source of his crackpot conspiracy theories and fake news will greatly undermine Fox News’ credibility outside of Liberal Land. I agree.
Keep up world!!!
- Joseph Goebbels (as channeled by Mike Pompeo during a recent Oval Office seance)