What's Amanpour & Co’s idea of a balanced segment on the news of former President Donald Trump’s third indictment for “conspiring to defraud” the United States for contesting his loss in 2020? Hosting a sitting liberal Democrat, Representative Joe Neguse (CO), and the ex-Republican (in all senses) Representative Joe Walsh, who ran against Trump in the 2020 primary and remained fiercely opposed.
Amanpour’s Tuesday (August 1,2023) evening show promised both sides, which turned out to be one sitting and one former congressman, both adamantly unsympathetic to Trump. From host Christiane Amanpour's show introduction: Then, how Republicans are reacting to the news with former GOP congressman and presidential candidate Joe Walsh….”
Neguse was positively placid in comparison to former congressman Walsh’s theatrically rabid attack on Trump.
Picking Walsh of all people to deliver the Republican opinion on Trump was just more evidence that Amanpour & Co. was more concerned about piling on the former President than any sense of journalistic balance. Walsh, a conservative Republican who has remade himself into a virulent anti-Trumper, actually ran against Trump in the GOP primaries in 2020, but dropped out after getting less than one percent of the vote in Iowa caucus. Whatever faction he represented consisted of the liberal press.
After Amanpour hyperbolically termed special counsel Jack Smith’s latest indictment “perhaps the most important indictment in American history,” the former Illinois Congressman gave Amanpour’s public television viewers what they wanted to hear. Even Amanpour seemed surprised, replying with “Gosh” on two occasions to Walsh’s incendiary rhetoric.
Amanpour: ….first, you know, obviously, you’re not a Trumper. What do you make of this incredibly serious indictment and what it says about your party, frankly?
“Your party?" Note even Walsh called himself a former Republican.
Walsh: ….It says that my former political party is a cult. I'm not the only one who has said that. But it says that my former political party, the voters in that party, Christiane, are completely radicalized….
When asked by Amanpour if justice would be done, he replied:
Walsh: ….I think we've become so numbed to how bad Trump is. Two and a half years ago, you know, he tried to end our democracy….I think he belongs in jail. He deserves his day in court. But my God, thank God he was indicted….
Amanpour: Congressman Joe Walsh, you tweeted, maybe it wasn't today, but it's been in the past over this drama, using an expletive, calling him a traitor and that he had committed treason. How do you -- I mean: How a traitor?
Walsh: ….Donald Trump lied about that election. He attacked our country. That's an attack on our democracy. If that’s not the act of a traitor, I don't know what is. Is it formally treason? No. But informally, it is a traitorous act what he did.
This was balance?
Amanpour showed no feel for counter-arguments about an indictment that some have called an example of a two-tiered justice system, one for Republicans, and a more lenient one for Democrats like Hunter Biden. Even some mainstream media sources found the latest charges a stretch. The New York Times’ David Leonhardt, no Trumper, put it:
As for Trump’s broader effort to overturn the election result, no federal law specifically bars politicians from attempting to do so. Without such a law, Smith has relied on a novel approach. He has charged Trump with committing criminal fraud and violating conspiracy laws that were not written to prevent the overturning of an election result.
Why would Amanpour consider Walsh a fair measure of how average Republicans feel about Trump’s legal problems?
This unbalanced segment was brought to you by Mutual of America Financial Group.
A transcript is available, click “Expand” to read:
PBS News Hour
August 3, 2023
1:56:10 a.m. (ET)
AMANPOUR: The United States of America versus Donald J. Trump again. What happens now that the former president has been indicted for a third time. This one for attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election. We get the legal view with the former federal prosecutor Jessica Roth.
Then how Republicans are reacting to the news with former GOP congressman and presidential candidate Joe Walsh. And the democratic take with Congressman Joe Neguse, who served as a prosecutor in the second impeachment trial of then-President Trump.
So, what will Trump's legal jeopardy mean for the Republican Party and his own presidential ambitions? Let's get the details with the former GOP congressman, Joe Walsh, who voted for Trump in 2016, grew disillusioned with him in office, broke with him and even ran against him for the Republican nomination in 2020.
Joe Walsh, welcome to the program where you are in Washington. I will get to the whole swamp and fair or unfair in a moment. But first, you know, obviously, you are not a Trumper. What do you make of this incredibly serious indictment and what it says about your party, frankly?
FMR. REP. JOE WALSH (R-IL), HOST, "WHITE FLAG WITH JOE WALSH": Christiane, good to be with you. It says that my former political party is a cult. I'm not the only one who has said that. But it says that my former political party, the voters in that party, Christiane, are completely radicalized.
I can't emphasize this enough because I speak to Republican voters every day, because as you rightly recognize, I come from the base. And to them, he can do no wrong. I mean, he can do no wrong. They cross that bridge a while ago. They consider him to be a victim. So, every new charge and every new indictment only strengthens him. This will lock up the nomination for him.
AMANPOUR: You said and you tweeted today, personally, this is a good day, this is a happy day, this is a day to celebrate justice. So, clearly you are happy. You believe what you tweeted. Do you think that justice will be done as you think it should be?
WALSH: I don't know. Look, this is really, really serious and I think we've become so numb to help that Trump's. Two and a half years ago, you know, he tried to end our democracy. The first sitting president in American history who lost an election and tried to halt the peaceful transfer of power. That's off the charts serious.
I think he belongs in jail. He deserves his day in court. But my God, thank God he was indicted. It's not a tragic day. It shows that this country can hold even ex-presidents accountable for what they do.
AMANPOUR: Congressman Joe Walsh, you tweeted, maybe it wasn't today, but it's been in the past over this drama, using an expletive, calling him a traitor and that he had committed treason. How do you -- I mean, how a traitor?
WALSH: Oh, boy, Christiane, I so believe this. He -- again, he tried to and our democracy. He refused to accept the will of the people. He refused to accept an election loss. You know that elections are the heartbeat of a democracy. 80 percent of my former political party does not believe Joe Biden won fair and square. That is all because Donald Trump lied about that election. He attacked our country. That's an attack on our democracy. If that is not the act of a traitor, I don't know what is. Is it formally treason? No. But informally, it is a traitorous act what he did.
AMANPOUR: So, I want to ask, given what you are saying and given the very serious wording and nature of the charges in that 45-page indictment. When somebody like Ron DeSantis, the sitting governor of Florida, talks about, you know, this weaponization of the federal government, is the reason for the politicization of the rule of law, the divisions in the country, Tim Scott saying, what we see today, two different tracks of justice. One for political opponents, another for son of the current president.
You know, it's not just people who -- as you call, a cult followers of Donald Trump. It is the established leaders who are running for the highest office in the land who also believe this stuff. In fact, Pence, his vice president, is the -- and obviously Chris Christie, are the only ones who have really come down very hard, and Asa Hutchinson too.
WALSH: Well because the reality on -- in -- on the ground is, this is Trump's party. I make no bones about it. There is no room in this party for me or Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger. There is no room in this party for anyone who publicly opposes Trump. In the nomination fight to become the nominee next year, there's only one lane, that is the Trumpy lane. And Trump is in that lane, Ron DeSantis is trying to be that lane. There's no other lane.
So, if you came out against Donald Trump on this indictment, you have no shot at the nomination and you are done as a Republican. I like what Chris Christie is saying, but Chris Christie knows he has zero constituency in this party. The only ones who kind of do are DeSantis, Scott Haley, really, and they -- Christiane, they're not trying to beat Trump, which is why they are embracing him. They're hoping that a heart attack or the justice system, something will take Trump out, and they can be the last man or woman standing there.
AMANPOUR: Oh, gosh. You know a lot of people obviously want to know, he's - - it looks like he is clearly, barring what you just said, going to get the nomination.
AMANPOUR: But will he be president? Will he get another term? Many people around the world want to know that and its cause of great concern for many of the reasons you have outlined. So, I want to know from you, the first few indictments, the first two, seem to give a spike in his popularity, in his polls and in his fund raising. It's said that this one is not having a similar effect today yet.
Do you think that it will or do you think that cult or no cult this seriousness will be reflected amongst the Republican voters?
WALSH: Well, Christiane, I have a contrarian view here. I think this serious indictment will boost him even more among Republican voters because it fits their narrative of Trump as the victim of the deep state going after him. This fits that narrative perfectly. I think the indictment in August down in Georgia that's coming will strengthen him even more.
And I really -- look, I think the nomination is his and I think that the world needs to understand that one of our two major political parties is fully radicalized. That is why the rest of the world that never heard has a real difficult time understanding this. But the other warning is Donald Trump has a really good chance of being elected again. And the country and the world needs to wrap their arms around that.
AMANPOUR: Well, I can assure you from all of the conversations we have on this program that that possibility, that worry is very foremost in the minds of many people around the world.
Do you think that -- you know, you said that his voters, his cult followers see him as a victim and see him embodying, I guess, what they think is their own victimhood. So, when people talk about the swamp in Washington and it's unable, you know, the deep state to get a fair trial, et cetera, do you think that's going to be a winning -- another winning political message?
WALSH: Sadly, I do. And what really concerns me, Christiane, is I have heard from independents and Republicans last night and today who are not Donald Trump hard-core supporters, and even they are telling me that, Joe, this really seems like the Justice Department is piling on, it seems like the Justice Department is trying to put their thumbs on the results of the 2024 election. My worry is that Trump will be able to use that, that the Justice Department is interfering in this upcoming election to his advantage.
WALSH: And I think that will really resonate with people.
AMANPOUR: Well, certainly, the -- you know, the organ of choice, being Fox News and Newsmax and the others, are saying that kind. Here's what they just said after the indictment. Let's listen.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Are we now living in America where equal justice is dead? The equal application of our laws is a thing of the past? That where -- the shredding of our constitution, we are witnessing this in real-time in front of our own eyes?
JESSE WATTERS, FOX NEWS HOST: This is only the beginning of politicians putting other politicians and their families in prison. It's sad we had to go down this road, but this is where we are and now, we have to finish it.
AMANPOUR: So, I guess the question to you, and we asked, you know, the legal expert, Former Prosecutor Jessica Roth, what is the alternative? You know, you say -- these people have said, you know, it looks like piling on. What is the alternative?
WALSH: Christiane, that's such a great, smart question? There was no alternative. Nobody is above the law. He committed crimes, he tried to end our democracy. But, you know, the magic of Trump is -- and I had advisers during his presidency tell me this, he -- every day he says and does so many bad things that you become numb to it all. And I think that is where we are now.
There are going to be four indictments and a lot of Americans are just going to roll their eyes at the whole thing and say, this is crazy, it doesn't feel right, it doesn't feel fair, but there was no alternative. He had to be held accountable. And now, it is up to the rest of the country to make sure that guy isn't in the White House again.
WALSH: It's a political solution now.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, the next political, I guess, performance is going to be the first of the presidential debates, right, the nominating debates. And we will see who gets onto the stage. But do you think absent -- I guess, maybe Pence, maybe a couple of the others if they get the -- you know, the -- whatever it is, the number of percentages that they can get onto the stage. Do you think they will use that platform to do what you are saying, you know, to hold him accountable in public?
WALSH: No, no. And I don't think Trump will be there. But to do that, Christiane, in today's Republican Party is a career killer. So, again, I expect Chris Christie who will be onstage to do that, but he does -- he is doing something different here. He knows he can't win.
WALSH: Pence, Scott, Haley and DeSantis still believe that they can so they will embrace Trump and go after the deep state.
AMANPOUR: All right. Gosh. Thank you so much, Congressman, for joining us. Thank you, Joe Walsh.