Late Wednesday morning, The Daily Caller’s Benny Johnson flagged down quite the exasperating exchange hours earlier from CNN’s New Day as co-host Alisyn Camerota expressed dismay with a social media post by ex-Marine Paul Whelan that called CNN “fake news.” But what was it that made this ugly (other than it being self-absorbed)? Well, it’s because Whelan was arrested on Friday in Russia on allegations of espionage.
Camerota’s question came while interviewing Whelan’s twin brother David about Paul’s arrest for what the Putin regime claimed was espionage. According to both David and other media reports thus far, Whelan was not a spy but instead part of an arrest made by the Putin regime as leverage against the U.S.
Part way through the interview that was supposed to put a spotlight on the need for the Russians to explain what happened and how the State Department had gotten involved, things took a bizarre turn.
Camerota started talking about “some strange elements of your — or at least questionable, I guess, of your brother's story” because he’s had an account on the social media site VK “for 13 years.”
Insisting that she’s “not taking this personally,” Camerota proceeded to make it personal by complaining about a post David made about CNN:
And he had various postings on there — pictures of him in Russia. I think the first one that we have is where he took like sort of a rest and relaxation — well, here's one. I wasn't planning to go to this one yet but let's talk about this one. Here’s one where he says, “Just drinking coffee and watching fake news.” Now, I'm not taking this personally that he's pictured with CNN, but I just am wondering is this a statement on his part somehow?
Let this again be a reminder that for however often the liberal media insist on not wanting to be the story themselves, they’re often wrong (unless it’s the case of the mail bombs — which was both horrifying and uncalled for). See the White House Press Briefing or Jim Acosta’s entire career under Trump for examples.
At any rate, David replied as most people would, which was with bewilderment: “I don't really know. I don't know what's on his V contact page or I don't really follow him on social media other than on Twitter, which is where I am, so I don't know what he was intending by those photos.”
Camerota pressed on what David knew about Paul’s social media behavior and so he reiterated that his twin brother likely had an account because “knew over the years he’d met Russians” through traveling for both pleasure and work and he wanted to stay in touch with.
The interview concluded with David emphasizing that he only knew what Paul told him about his work with providing clients with risk assessments on their building security.
After he published his article, Johnson unloaded on CNN for being “petty & small,” adding: “Honest question: How could this completely harmless social media post about CNN have ANY bearing whatsoever on an American and ex-Marine being detained by a hostile foreign power? How is it remotely appropriate for CNN to ask his worried brother about it on air? CNN is bad.”
To see the relevant transcript from CNN’s New Day on January 2, click “expand.”
CNN’s New Day
January 2, 2019
7:56 a.m. Eastern
ALISYN CAMEROTA: There are some strange elements of your — or at least questionable, I guess, of your brother's story. He had this social media account, the equivalent in Russia of Facebook — it's called VK — and he's had it for 13 years.
DAVID WHELAN: Right.
CAMEROTA: And he had various postings on there — pictures of him in Russia. I think the first one that we have is where he took like sort of a rest and relaxation — well, here's one. I wasn't planning to go to this one yet but let's talk about this one. Here’s one where he says, “Just drinking coffee and watching fake news.” Now, I'm not taking this personally that he's pictured with CNN, but I just am wondering is this a statement on his part somehow?
WHELAN: I don't really know. I don't know what's on his V contact page or I don't really follow him on social media other than on Twitter, which is where I am, so I don't know what he was intending by those photos.
CAMEROTA: What did he tell you about his social media? I mean, why do you think that he did have a VK account — a social media account in Russia?
WHELAN: I knew over the years he’d met Russians. I don’t know whether it was through work or through his Marine activity but he’d met people while he’d been traveling around and he connected with them on social media and he would tell us that when he was traveling he would go and visit those people. So I expect that he probably had a V contact page because his Russian friends had a V contact page.
CAMEROTA: The picture that I was going to show as him standing in front of the Kremlin. This is in 2006 when he was on, I think, a sort of —
CAMEROTA: — R&R trip away from the Marines and he, I guess, apparently went to Russia for two weeks. So, David, what do you want us to know? What is your family calling for today in terms of resolving this?
WHELAN: The only result we have in mind is for Paul to come home, for Paul to be safe. Hopefully, today, we'll learn that for sure. But really, for Paul to come home. He's got elderly parents. He's got a home life that I'm sure he misses and we would like him to be back and part of it.
CAMEROTA: And what can you tell us about what he does for a living and your — his family — you're his twin brother — and more about his life here at home.
WHELAN: Well, I only know what a brother tells a brother about his job. I'm a librarian and he does corporate security, so it's a bit like chalk and cheese. What I understand is that he travels for his companies and looks at their physical structures — their physical plants and analyzes whether there are security risks — broken windows or doors that are weak or whatever. So, security risks that would allow people to get access to those buildings and potentially steal things or do other damage. So he traveled the world for his company doing that sort of analysis and making recommendations about the sites that he visited and he traveled for fun. He's traveled, as far as I know, for fun since we were teenagers.
CAMEROTA: Well, David Whelan, we know that you and your parents are very anxious to get him home and to get any information that you can. And we're happy to be able to get that news to you that the Secretary of State believes that he will have consulate access in the next few hours. So obviously, we'll stay on the story.