Full disclosure: I have never watched Fox News. Actually I don’t watch much television news at all. I read news sites online and listen to news on the radio. Yes, I do read CNN.com.
My issue with CNN has always been that on their front page they mix news and analysis/opinion and sometimes it is hard to determine which is which. Well, it’s getting worse. Over time CNN has added a new category … Lies! Under the Analysis banner, CNN’s Steven Collinson wrote a piece declaring that the former president, in an interview on The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show (the successor to The Rush Limbaugh Show), approved of Putin’s actions in Ukraine. Of course Collinson’s piece builds on the narrative of Russian interference to get Trump elected.
Here are some excerpts from Collinson’s article:
The former President often accuses his enemies falsely of treason, but his own giddy rush to side with a foreign leader who is proving to be an enemy of the United States and the West is shocking even by Trump’s self-serving standards.
Trump didn’t take long to make sure Putin knew he approved of his movement of troops into parts of eastern Ukraine, knowing that his comments would be picked up and beamed around the world.
If what Collinson wrote were true, this would indeed be a treasonous act. The only problem is that Collinson lied. Trump did not side with a foreign leader who is proving to be an enemy of the United States. Nor did Trump make sure Putin knew he approved of his movement of troops. I guess I should be fair, perhaps Collinson only read the pull quote and didn’t read the entire transcript or listen to the interview.
I did not listen to the interview live, but after reading Collinson’s Analysis, I read the transcript and listened to a recording of the interview. Here is the question that Buck Sexton posed to the former president:
Mr. President, in the last 24 hours we know Russia has said that they are recognizing two breakaway regions of Ukraine, and now this White House is stating that this is an “invasion.” That’s a strong word. What went wrong here? What has the current occupant of the Oval Office done that he could have done differently?
And here is Trump’s answer:
Well, what went wrong was a rigged election and what went wrong is a candidate that shouldn’t be there and a man that has no concept of what he’s doing. I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, “This is genius.” Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine — of Ukraine. Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful.
So, Putin is now saying, “It’s independent,” a large section of Ukraine. I said, “How smart is that?” And he’s gonna go in and be a peacekeeper. That’s strongest peace force… We could use that on our southern border. That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re gonna keep peace all right. No, but think of it. Here’s a guy who’s very savvy… I know him very well. Very, very well.
By the way, this never would have happened with us. Had I been in office, not even thinkable. This would never have happened. But here’s a guy that says, you know, “I’m gonna declare a big portion of Ukraine independent,” he used the word “independent,” “and we’re gonna go out and we’re gonna go in and we’re gonna help keep peace.” You gotta say that’s pretty savvy. And you know what the response was from Biden? There was no response. They didn’t have one for that. No, it’s very sad. Very sad.
I would like to break down Trump’s response and provide my own analysis:
First off, Trump is Trump! He starts his response by taking a dig at President Biden and the rigged election.
Where Collinson’s analysis strays from reality is where he says:
But it’s unsurprising Trump would praise anything Putin does, given his genuflecting to the Russian leader while in office.
When Trump says “This is genius” or that “Here’s a guy who’s very savvy” he isn’t praising Putin’s actions. Rather he is noting that Putin is crafty and by implication taking advantage of Biden whom Trump describes saying:
… shouldn’t be there and a man that has no concept of what he’s doing …
It is hard to see how anyone but the most virulent Trump-hater could view Trump’s statement on the peace force as anything but hyperbole and sarcasm.
That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re gonna keep peace all right.
Trump closes his answer by saying:
By the way, this never would have happened with us. Had I been in office, not even thinkable. This would never have happened.
I am not sure how Collinson interprets this as Trump supporting Putin. If I were to give him the benefit of the doubt, maybe I would believe that Collinson didn’t read (or hear) the entire interview. But, to suggest that he would write his piece without thoroughly researching would be to imply that he is lazy or careless and impune his integrity as a journalist. As a gentleman, I don’t want to do that, instead I will simply call him a liar!