Fox News, who often goes out of its way to defend Donald J. Trump, is now finding itself going even further just to defend him.
Hosts on Fox have parroted White House talking points as the Ukrainian scandal has unfolded. First, Trump denied withholding any aid but that story quickly unraveled. Then, the “quid pro quo” didn’t exist. Then it did, after acting Chief of Staff and OMB director Mick Mulvaney confessed and even bragged about it — but it was perfectly fine. Mulvaney insisted it was “done all the time.”
Of course, Fox parroted all those lines until they were rejected by the American people and the facts.
Fox personalities have repeated the conspiracy theories like the one about “Crowdstrike” and Ukraine being the actual perpetrator of 2016 election interference instead of the Russians — many of whom have been indicted via the Mueller probe.
But on Friday, on “The Five,” co-host Greg Gutfeld thought he’d trot out a semi-new theory now that Democrats have dropped confusing “quid pro quo” language in favor of a term that most Americans can actually understand and wrap their head around — bribery.
Gutfeld went further than Mulvaney would even go and declared that bribery was the way of the world, inferring that it was basically a “lifestyle choice.”
“Life on Earth is bribery. (Gutfeld did air quotes while saying “bribery”) You say, ‘I want something from you, You give something to me.’ — that’s how the world works everywhere.
Fox's Greg Gutfeld dismisses charges of bribery against Trump: "Life on earth is bribery" pic.twitter.com/8B5Th9kyyZ
— Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) November 15, 2019
Except it isn’t exactly like that. First off, someone should remind Gutfeld that there is a Christmas season coming up where the whole mantra is that it is “better to give than receive.” A season where doing something selfless is a traditional theme of the holiday. Finally, To the best of my recollection, I have never heard the exchange of gifts called bribery by anyone.
Also, where people do exchange one thing for another, it doesn’t mean that everything is on the table or that all exchanges are equal and equally kosher. Yes, one might go to a job where someone gets money for performing a job. Or, a neighbor might agree to help out clearing some shrubbery in exchange for a case of beer. Yes, there is an exchange of goods and services. But the employer can’t threaten to hold an employee’s paycheck until they change political parties or any other unreasonable request someone can dream up. The neighbor can’t just demand a case of beer or he’ll call the cops or do something else dastardly.
There are rules, there are norms, and there are laws. The world isn’t just the corrupt exchanges that Gutfeld wants us to believe it is.
In foreign policy terms, we can use leverage in a good way. Like refusing to give aid till a campaign of genocide stops. That is something that reflects our values as a nation and just good human values. It is not the same thing as withholding aid until Ukraine goes out and essentially create a campaign ad announcing a bogus investigation on a political rival like Joe Biden so Trump can say “look, he’s under investigation too — he’s dirty — everyone’s dirty” in justifying his own behavior and attempting to normalize it.
Keep in mind that an actual investigation isn’t what Trump really wanted, although he would gladly take it if they did put efforts into looking at Joe Biden and his son under a legal microscope. What Trump demanded was the announcement of an investigation. An announcement he could have Fox play over and over again and use in campaign ads and rallies to smear Biden and his campaign, should he be the nominee.
Such a thing is in no one’s interest but Trump and his lust to hold power. People inside the loop already know what happened with Biden in Ukraine. What Biden did was at the behest of the United States Government, our NATO allies, and many other nations in the world community. Biden pressured the former President to fire a prosecutor that was known to be corrupt, and by the way, wasn’t investigating his son, Hunter. What Biden did was upfront and out in the open. That is why we know about it, nothing was hidden.
By contrast, Trump did what he did using a “shadow” back channel led by his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani and an “ambassador” who was only there because he showed his loyalty to Trump with a million dollar check. Gordon Sondland has no foreign policy experience by trade and has spent his life running hotels and motels.. The normal channels were shut out, or removed. The experienced professionals were trashed with no basis in fact.
It was done in secret, not out in the open. The infamous July 25th phone call record, which was an unclassified call, was stashed away in a server where usually only highly classified and top-secret documents are stored. What Trump was demanding wasn’t in the nation’s or world’s interest — only his.
Those are some big differences people like Greg Gutfeld should notice.
What Trump did was a bribe in more and more people’s eyes as the days move forward. Furthermore, and making it worse, it wasn’t his money that was used as leverage, which is common with Trump. He used the American people’s money. Money that had been appropriated and approved by Congress for Ukraine.
Finally, Gutfeld apparently needs to be informed that bribery isn’t something that gets air-quotes around it. It is a crime. It is specifically listed in the Constitution as an impeachable offense.
Co-host Jesse Watters tried to water the bribery charge down further by suggesting that it only matters if Trump takes a bribe, not offer one. That is so ridiculous it doesn’t even deserve a response other than to say it is flat-out wrong.
The only half-decent point that anyone made was when they pondered that a focus group to test the word out was not necessary. There, the crew on The Five are correct, it probably didn’t need to be tested via a focus group. But if they did, it doesn’t diminish the fact that Trump offered a bribe to Ukraine in exchange for the public announcement of a sham investigation on Joe Biden and his son. The question isn’t whether Democrats are being too careful with their wording, but whether Trump violated the Constitution when he threatened to withhold aid and weapons for his own political purposes.
Or maybe we should start referring to Christmas season as bribery season.