MSNBC host Ari Melber showed how Fox News contributor John Solomon’s pro-Trump propaganda was so successful that it backfired and is now at the heart of the Ukraine scandal that will likely get Donald Trump impeached.
Media Matters has a good overview of Solomon’s role in the impeachment inquiry:
At the center of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump lies a disinformation campaign led by his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani that was aided and abetted by conservative writer John Solomon. Through Solomon, Giuliani injected his disinformation campaign straight into the heart of conservative media -- Fox News -- with seemingly full knowledge of at least some at Fox. And eventually, Solomon landed a job at the network.
Media Matters also notes that until recently, Solomon was the executive vice president of The Hill. There, he was “the conduit" through which Trump allies Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas, Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova "planted their stories in order to spread their coordinated disinformation campaign through the media.”
Melber cited a Solomon piece in The Hill from March called, “Joe Biden’s 2020 Ukrainian nightmare: A closed probe is revived.” According to Melber, that revival has yet to occur.
But as Melber explained, diGenova, who also happens to be Solomon’s lawyer, hyped the piece on Hannity, thus falsely suggesting “some independent interest in it.” We saw a clip of diGenova saying “some very disturbing details” are about to come out in a Solomon report and theorizing that they will lead to a “full-fledged criminal investigation” into Vice President Joe Biden’s supposed wrongdoing in Ukraine.
“Step One, have your lawyer hype your piece on Hannity, like there’s some independent interest in it,” Melber said dryly. He added that diGenova had “the inside scoop on what his own client is writing.”
You may recall that diGenova recently smeared Andrew Napolitano, Fox’s own legal analyst, as “a fool” after he opined that Trump had committed a crime when he asked for “a favor,” from Ukraine. That "favor" was an investigation into Biden and the 2016 election and was asked for as the White House withheld Congressionally appropriated military aid. Prime time host Tucker Carlson and Fox News management sided with diGenova when then-host Shepard Smith defended Napolitano. Shortly afterward, Smith resigned from Fox.
“Step Two,” Melber continued, “Well, obviously, go on Hannity yourself”.
We then saw Solomon in an April 3, 2019 Hannity segment, saying “There’s a pattern here of [Joe Biden's son] Hunter Biden being in the countries where the vice president has a foreign policy portfolio and somehow walking off with some nice paydays.” Solomon claimed his sources were “telling me tonight, Sean, that they’re trying to get this information to the U.S. Justice Department for more than six months.” We also saw Solomon alleging that Ukraine had interfered in the 2016 election to help Hillary Clinton.
The point is that Solomon was laying a false foundation for Trump’s demand that Ukraine investigate Biden and the 2016 election in his now-infamous "favor" phone call that spurred the whistleblower complaint and the impeachment inquiry. That, in turn, spurred scrutiny of Solomon’s claims. “Three different officials who served in the Trump administration” testified in their impeachment depositions that Solomon’s reporting was “false,” “baseless” and “nonsense,” Melber said, quoting from their testimony.
Sworn testimony potentially “carries more weight and potentially more legal peril than what you say in a Sean Hannity segment,” Melber added. Yet we also saw Giuliani and Trump saying that Solomon deserved a Pulitzer Prize. That’s because, “It’s vital to Trump and Giuliani that Solomon be, ultimately, taken seriously,” Melber explained.
Melber also highlighted sworn impeachment testimony that said State Department staff had contacted Hannity suggesting he stop covering Solomon’s Ukraine allegations. But Hannity ignored that request.
Now that the impeachment inquiry is in full swing, Solomon’s work and sources have drawn new scrutiny. “One source and collaborator? Indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, who did vetting and translation for Solomon on these very stories,” Melber said. “Diplomats warning Parnas was ‘trying to subvert our democracy,’” according to testimony. Parnas is now cooperating with impeachment investigators, Melber said.
Solomon left The Hill under mysterious circumstances just as the Ukraine scandal was breaking. Washington Examiner announced his departure on September 18. That same day, The Washington Post reported that the as-yet unseen whistleblower complaint centered on Trump’s communications with a foreign leader whom we would soon learn was the president of Ukraine.
Now at Fox, Melber quoted Just Security in saying that Solomon’s perch at Fox allows him the misleading “image of an investigative reporter … while maintaining radio silence about the details of his own convoluted role in all of this.”
Let’s see how long that lasts.
Trump is solely responsible for the behavior that will probably result in his impeachment. But given that he always blames others for his problems, I can't help but think that Solomon will soon be scapegoated.
Meanwhile, check out Melber’s excellent explanation of a crucial piece of the Ukraine impeachment scandal below, from the November 12, 2019 The Beat.
(H/T Eyes on Fox)
CORRECTION: I incorrectly referred to Melber as "Berman" several times in this post. My apologies to both Aris!
After hearing this segment it really opened my eyes and clarified my understanding of Hannity’s spews on the topic. My view has always been Fox News is mostly a clearinghouse for the conservative fever swamp, rather than a news service. This confirms my viewpoint.
Fortunately, a kind reader notified me of the mistake and I have corrected it in the post.