Following Tuesday’s Senate Intelligence hearing, journalist Kurt Bardella appeared on MSNBC’s Live With Craig Melvin, where he repeated a now-debunked Democratic talking point about the Nunes memo controversy.
In a characteristic display of deviousness, MSNBC producers initially used a chyron that identified Bardella as a former Breitbart spokesman. While Bardella did previously work for Breitbart, he has since become a Huffington Post columnist and publicly declared himself a Democrat, in a move that Breitbart's Rebecca Mansour described as “flouncing off in a cynically self-serving pantomime of political courage.”
The chosen appositive of ‘former Breitbart spokesman’ places him among the ranks of faux conservatives used by MSNBC to cultivate a pretense of nonpartisanism. A second chyron which listed his current position later appeared onscreen for four seconds.
When asked by stand-in host Peter Alexander about the Nunes memo, Bardella asserted that the very fact the memo had been released to the public proved that it was a political tool:
I think the fact they went to the extraordinary lengths to release this memo in the first place, something that has never been done before – they took a vote on this in the committee, a vote they never had to take before – tells you it’s weaponized.
He went on to bemoan that the President had not released the Democratic memo authored by Intel Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff, which ironically had gone through the same “extraordinary” voting process in committee before being released to the White House. However, Bardella’s enthusiasm for Schiff’s memo was not shared by NBC reporter Julia Ainsley, who would later point out that the rebuttal memo could never have been released in its current form:
...now it’s understood if this Democratic memo is going to come out, it would have to have such heavy redactions, it may be meaningless.
This description by Ainsley lends credence to the White House statement released February 9th, which alleged that some of the information contained in the memo “would create especially significant concerns for the national security and law enforcement interests,” if it were released.
Alexander then alluded to the defunct left-wing talking point that during a closed committee hearing, Nunes had refused to disclose whether the White House had helped him write the memo. Not to be outdone, Bardella went a step further and repeated the talking point directly. “He wouldn’t answer the question," he exclaimed. "Which is a de facto yes.”
The story that Nunes refused to answer his colleagues when pressed about the White House’s role in crafting the memo first appeared in a Daily Beast article published in late January. The article initially claimed the Congressman had replied, “I’m not answering.” But that quote was proven false when a transcript of the hearing was leaked, which showed that Nunes had responded, “I would just answer, as far as I know, no.”
Unsurprisingly, neither of the other panelists corrected Bardella.