White House press secretary Sean Spicer has just gotten himself and the administration he represents in some very hot international water after he cited Fox News pundit Andrew Napolitano to claim that British spies had worked in cahoots with the Obama administration to wiretap Donald Trump. It was part of the Trump administration’s desperate efforts to shore up his lie of being wiretapped by President Obama.
The New York Times has the details of what caused the aides to apologize (emphases added):
The flap with Britain started when Mr. Spicer, in the course of defending Mr. Trump’s original accusation against Mr. Obama, on Thursday read from the White House lectern comments by a Fox News commentator asserting that the British spy agency was involved. Andrew Napolitano, the commentator, said on air that Mr. Obama had used Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, the signals agency known as the GCHQ, to spy on Mr. Trump.
The 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.
Spicer’s attempt to bolster Trump’s Twitter outburst of accusations that President Obama wiretapped him came as the Republican Speaker of the House and Chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees have each debunked Trump's accusations. Today, Oklahoma Republican Congressman Tom Cole told reporters Trump should apologize to Obama.
But while it’s easy to understand why Spicer felt the need to grasp at the Napolitano straw, it was an incredibly irresponsible move that put Trump’s ego above the interests of the country. Media Matters explains:
Spicer imperiled our relations with our closest ally in order to buttress an obviously false Trump statement. Napolitano is a conspiracy theorist who has suggested the government may have been involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. His claim about British intelligence appears to have originated with a report on the state-sponsored Russian news network RT, and a British security official denied the claim, telling Reuters it was “totally untrue and quite frankly absurd.”
Ironically, Spicer’s boneheaded fumble comes after years of conservatives (including Fox News) baselessly accusing Obama of undermining the U.S. relationship with the United Kingdom, as Media Matters also notes:
Right-wing media figures for years decried the return to the U.K. of a bust of Winston Churchill that President George W. Bush had kept in the Oval Office when Obama took office, citing the move as evidence that Obama hated the British and had grievously insulted our strongest ally. When Trump had the bust returned to the Oval Office following his inauguration, conservative media outlets swooned.
Watch Spicer cite Fox’s Napolitano during the March 16, 2017 White House press briefing, below, via The New York Times.
Fox News is the bubble all the right-wingers live it. Spicer apparently too. So it’s not surprising they’ll quote Fox over and over again. Fox’s propaganda sounds so slam-dunk when presented in their conservative political ‘clean rooms’ (what most networks call news sets).
Over time I wonder if it’ll undermine Fox’s credibility because it comes back to expose how Looney Tunes they are.
Though probably not. After debunking literally hundreds of right-wing chain emails from friends the ultimate result is not an end to their addiction to total bulls—t but simply dropping me, the troublemaker, from their mailing list.