Wow: BBC Anchor Asks Dem Rep If She Is ‘Complicit in Politicizing’ Soldier’s Death

On Wednesday’s Morning Joe, Democratic congresswoman Frederica Wilson was brought on to discuss her allegations that President Trump was extremely inappropriate and disrespectful towards the recently widowed wife of an American soldier killed in action in Niger.

 

 

Despite uncritically acceding to the Florida representative’s core claims about what Trump said, guest Katty Kay, normally an anchor for BBC World News America, actually pushed back and asked some reasonably tough questions about why Rep. Wilson was politicizing the tragedy:

KAY: Congresswoman, it's Katty Kay here. Obviously, we haven't heard directly from Mrs. Johnson. She's going through an awful lot. This conversation has become intensely politicized, first from the President. But now do you think you have any qualms about, from your point of view as a Democratic Congresswoman, also politicizing this conversation? Is it right that you are speaking out about what was a conversation between Mrs. Johnson and the President?

REP. WILSON: What I'm really concerned about, and I wrote a letter to General Mattis about the circumstances surrounding his death. I'm not trying to politicize what the President said. That letter went out long before the conversation. I have a real concern because I have been fighting Boko Haram for over three years in the Congress of the United States ever since they kidnapped 274 school girls from a private school in Nigeria. So, ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ is my project in the Congress of the United States. I have passed bills. I have been working with Nigeria. I traveled to the region. And for la David to be from Miami and a part of my mentoring program, the ‘5000 Role Models of Excellence’ from a little boy, and to travel to the area where I have been fighting and to lose his life, why, my goodness, I was out of my mind. So I want answers surrounding his death. I want a complete investigation as to what happened to him. Why was he missing for 48 hours? Why was he in an unarmored car? Why didn't they have appropriate weapons? Boko Haram is the most dangerous terrorist group in the world. They burn babies and use little girls as suicide bombers.

KAY: Congresswoman, that’s, you're quite right. There needs to be an investigation into this and there's been far too little coverage of this and now the Pentagon is going to have an investigation into how those four soldiers died and there should be more information. What I'm asking you specifically is: are you complicit in politicizing this conversation around the deaths of fallen soldiers?

REP. WILSON: Someone asked me a question: did you hear the call? Tell us what you heard. I told them what I heard. That's not politicizing anything. That was my constituent.

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In spite of the congresswoman’s protestations, according to Bloomberg Politics, she has already tried to turn the tragic death of her constituent into a political scandal. In her own words: “This might be Trump’s Benghazi” and “I’m concerned about why he died. Why wasn’t he protected?” These comments actually go a long way towards explaining Rep. Wilson’s odd questions during her interview such as: “Why was [Sergeant Johson] missing for 48 hours? Why was he in an unarmored car? Why didn't they have appropriate weapons?” Moreover, her closing remarks of the interview further bely her protestations of innocence to the politicization charge:

REP. WILSON: Mr. Trump was extremely insensitive to that family and I will stick by that. I'm not trying to politicize it, but I think it was a disgrace.

SCARBOROUGH: We completely understand.

REP. WILSON: It was a disgrace.

SCARBOROUGH: Completely understand.

If you’re calling the President’s conduct disgraceful, justified or not, that’s clearly a political statement.

Below is a transcript that includes segments that are useful for contextualizing the clip discussed above:

6:15 AM EST

MARK HALPERIN: Joe, this makes me as profoundly sad and upset as, I think, anything that's happened in the last few months to make these families who have suffered, paid the ultimate sacrifice, to make them part of this, whether it’s General Kelly or Sergeant Johnson, by criticizing President Obama, by bringing in General Kelly’s son, I just think there’s a really sad thing. President bears most of the responsibility for this, for shaping this discussion. I do think, I'll say, not to be critical of this program, but the coverage in the last twelve hours in general, I think trying to create conflict between Sergeant Johnson’s family and the President is a mistake. We don't know exactly what was said on the call.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, so what does General Kelly do next? How does General Kelly, a man that has shown such extraordinary dignity since the passing of his son, and really a lot of our introduction to General Kelly was reading that extraordinary speech he gave about sacrifice of these families, so what do we expect from General Kelly next?

HALPERIN: I wish and I hope that he could convince the President, not just about his own family, but about all of these families, to take this off the table. Not the subject of tweets and political attacks and talk radio. Really, there are so many topics the President uses for his short-term political desires and lashing out. This just should not be one of them.

(...)


6:20 AM

KATTY KAY [BBC WORLD NEWS, ANCHOR]: So, even in this particular instance, I do agree with Mark. We have to be very careful about how we talk about this. And I think those Democratic, the Democratic congresswoman and the Democratic Councilwoman from southern Florida also should be more careful than they're being about how they talk about that phone call-

HALPERIN: [interjecting] I agree.

KAY: -and coming out to the press to make this a political statement. It's, the whole environment now and the conversation becomes more toxic because everybody from both sides feels they want to get in on it and defend their corners. And that, that does come from the President, but those individuals also need to take responsibility for what they say.

(...)

7:15 AM

KAY: Congresswoman, it's Katty Kay here. Obviously, we haven't heard directly from Mrs. Johnson. She's going through an awful lot. This conversation has become intensely politicized, first from the President. But now do you think you have any qualms about, from your point of view as a Democratic congresswoman, also politicizing this conversation? Is it right that you are speaking out about what was a conversation between Mrs. Johnson and the President?

REP. FREDERICA WILSON [D-FL]: What I'm really concerned about, and I wrote a letter to General Mattis about the circumstances surrounding his death. I'm not trying to politicize what the President said. That letter went out long before the conversation. I have a real concern because I have been fighting Boko Haram for over three years in the Congress of the United States ever since they kidnapped 274 school girls from a private school in Nigeria. So, ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ is my project in the Congress of the United States. I have passed bills. I have been working with Nigeria. I traveled to the region. And for la David to be from Miami and a part of my mentoring program, the ‘5000 Role Models of Excellence’ from a little boy, and to travel to the area where I have been fighting and to lose his life, why, my goodness, I was out of my mind. So I want answers surrounding his death. I want a complete investigation as to what happened to him. Why was he missing for 48 hours? Why was he in an unarmored car? Why didn't they have appropriate weapons? Boko Haram is the most dangerous terrorist group in the world. They burn babies and use little girls as suicide bombers.

KAY: Congresswoman, that’s, you're quite right. There needs to be an investigation into this and there's been far too little coverage of this and now the Pentagon is going to have an investigation into how those four soldiers died and there should be more information. What I'm asking you specifically is: are you complicit in politicizing this conversation around the deaths of fallen soldiers?

REP. WILSON: Someone asked me a question: did you hear the call? Tell us what you heard. I told them what I heard.

SCARBOROUGH: Mark Halperin.

REP. WILSON: That's not politicizing anything. That was my constituent.

(...)

7:20 AM

REP. WILSON: Mr. Trump was extremely insensitive to that family and I will stick by that. I'm not trying to politicize it, but I think it was a disgrace.

SCARBOROUGH: We completely understand.

REP. WILSON: It was a disgrace.

SCARBOROUGH: Completely understand.

(...)


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