Who’s the Real Tool? CNN Falls on Its Face Trying to Bash GOP’s Kennedy as Putin Stooge

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On Monday, CNN colluded with itself to deem Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) and those not in the Resistance as their political enemies, offering segment after segment about the latest scuffle between the Republican and Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd.

Of course, CNN sided with Todd that Kennedy’s a puppet for Vladimir Putin pushing “conspiracy theories” (which are true) about Ukraine and the 2016 election. All told, every live show on Monday mentioned Kennedy with the exception of Inside Politics (as of this post’s publication).

 

 

In the process, however, a few of CNN’s attempts fell flat as they ended up spreading falsehoods while kvetching about how, unlike the left, the right doesn’t respect facts.

Let’s look at a few examples. On At This Hour, host Kate Bolduan allowed Congressman and fellow liberal John Yarmuth (D-KY) to falsely claim that, regarding attempts by Ukrainian officials to express support of Hillary Clinton in 2016, Kennedy “was bringing up magazine stories yesterday that apparently don't exist.”

Andrea Mitchell can say otherwise, but the facts laid out by The Federalist’s Chrissy Clark are real articles with real claims about Ukrainians wanting Hillary Clinton to win (including that infamous Politico item).

As for Bolduan and Yarmuth, things got worse as the former lamented how more Americans aren’t believing their impeachment narratives and the latter thanked CNN as a true “objective arbiter” of “facts” (click “expand”):

KATE BOLDUAN: But it comes down to — it gets to something that is very serious. This — an accusation that Ukraine meddle in 2016 election. Not only did the entire intelligence community say it was Russia that was behind the meddling, he himself acknowledged it was wrong. It really hard to actually follow the logic on why you go on TV to say it once than to apologize for it and just get back to it when you feel like it another day. I don’t get it. I thought it maybe was only when he was on Fox News doing interviews, but clearly not. [YARMUTH LAUGHS]  He was on with Chuck Todd when he said it again and that is just in the Senate, right? You’ve got John Kennedy as one example. But one person that you have called out in the House for essentially doing the same is the top Republican on House Intel, Devin Nunes talking, again, about this debunked conspiracy theory. How do you combat lying about this when it comes down to public perception when it comes to impeachment is very important. 

YARMUTH: No, this is — this is the problem we are having in this country right now. We have alternate realities and until we get some kind of arbiter of what the facts really are and people who are willing to accept what an objective arbiter would conclude what the facts really are then we'll have this divide in the country and it’s very, very sad and it’s dangerous for democracy. You know, I applaud CNN. I think you’re trying to do that exact job is what is the reality here?  What are the facts? And the facts here are pretty much undisputed....I doubt if many Trump supporters watched those hearings. I hope they watch the Judiciary hearings. I hope that when articles of impeachment comes to the House floor, which I am sure they will, they watch that as well. 

Fast-forwarding to CNN Right Now, host Brianna Keilar used her expanded, two-hour show (filing in for Brooke Baldwin in the 2:00 p.m. Eastern hour) to attack Kennedy not once, but twice. 

In a first tease, Kennedy sounded more like a pundit for the Biden campaign with a chyron below her that claimed Kennedy was “spread[ing] debunked conspiracy that benefits Russia”: “And as the Republicans run out of defenses for the President’s actions on Ukraine, Senators spreading more conspiracy theories instead.”

Even though Kennedy backtracked from his initial gaffe questioning Russian shenanigans, Keilar and chief political analyst Gloria Borger decided to feign outrage (click “expand,” emphasis mine):

BRIANNA KEILAR: Well, now the President is thanking the Republican senator “for the job he did in representing the Republican Party” and pushing this debunked conspiracy theory...I mean, this is debunked. The entire community says Russia interfered and I mean, they — people were indicted. They were named. It was laid out so clearly. It wasn’t amorphous. It was very specific.

(....)

BORGER: Look, I think in that interview, we — first of all, we've seen this senator go back and forth and back and forth on this. And he said to Chris Cuomo, you know, I was wrong, and then he went and reversed himself yesterday on Meet the Press, and Chuck Todd, I think, raised the right question, which is, when is a fact a fact? 17 intelligence agencies in this country agree that Russia meddled in the election and there is no Ukraine in there. You know, maybe some Ukranian politicians said some things that Donald Trump didn't like about him, but there — the meddling — and meddling is too light a word. Hacked into — tried to affect or did affect the election by the Rus — it’s the Russians and I think now that you have Senators dabbling, not dabbling, promoting this conspiracy theory, leaves you sort of wondering what will happen on the Senate floor during impeachment. 

In that excerpt, Borger invoked the tiresome piece of fake news about “17 intelligence agencies” having the same conclusion about Russia and 2016, which was ironic since she had just bemoaned that we’re debating “when is a fact a fact.”

And secondly, both floated the unproven notion that Russia “did affect” and “influenc[ed] an election,” which are liberal media dog whistles to suggest that Trump is an illegitimate President and that Hillary Clinton should have won.

Borger conceded that Ukrainians lobbied for Clinton to win, but that’s “not meddling.” Instead, Borger spun that “[y]ou're allowed to express an opinion of something in your own country” and shouldn’t be deemed a “covert action to try to actively change the outcome of an election.”

Talk about mental gymnastics.

In the next hour, she brought on former Obama official and CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod and complained to him:

I mean, David, it seems like almost every segment we have been debunking conspiracy theories. We've been discussing conspiracy theories. It's one after another, how concerned are you as you watch some of these take hold in a very real way? 

Axelrod replied that Trump’s voiced his support for Kennedy but “the other person who’s very happy with it is Vladimir Putin, of course, who would love to see the blame for what happened here in 2016 shift to the Ukrainians.” 

The liberal media’s fetish for making everything about Russia and obsessing over impeachment contributes to this, but CNN couldn’t be bothered with that reality when diversity of thought isn’t allowed because the Zucker hive have “facts” to push.

To see the relevant CNN transcripts from December 2, click “expand.”

CNN’s At This Hour with Kate Bolduan
December 2, 2019
11:31 p.m. Eastern

KATE BOLDUAN: What's your take on this, if I may ask? You still have — bong hits aside, you still a senator pushing a debunked conspiracy theory after himself admitted he was wrong. 

CONGRESSMAN JOHN YARMUTH (D-KY): I think Senator Kennedy is a lawyer and he ought to be concerned of fabrication of evidence. He was bringing up magazine stories yesterday that apparently don't exist. So, he's just making things up and it all goes to the point that these defenders of President Trump don't have a defense for what he did and they're trying to bring up all sorts of issues to muddle the water. It can only go so far. When you start making up articles that can be disproven, then, you know, you start —  you’ve better be acting more seriously and taking responsibilities more seriously. 

BOLDUAN: But it comes down to — it gets to something that is very serious. This — an accusation that Ukraine meddle in 2016 election. Not only did the entire intelligence community say it was Russia that was behind the meddling, he himself acknowledged it was wrong. It really hard to actually follow the logic on why you go on TV to say it once than to apologize for it and just get back to it when you feel like it another day. I don’t get it. I thought it maybe was only when he was on Fox News doing interviews, but clearly not. [YARMUTH LAUGHS]  He was on with Chuck Todd when he said it again and that is just in the Senate, right? You’ve got John Kennedy as one example. But one person that you have called out in the House for essentially doing the same is the top Republican on House Intel, Devin Nunes talking, again, about this debunked conspiracy theory. How do you combat lying about this when it comes down to public perception when it comes to impeachment is very important. 

YARMUTH: No, this is — this is the problem we are having in this country right now. We have alternate realities and until we get some kind of arbiter of what the facts really are and people who are willing to accept what an objective arbiter would conclude what the facts really are then we'll have this divide in the country and it’s very, very sad and it’s dangerous for democracy. You know, I applaud CNN. I think you’re trying to do that exact job is what is the reality here?  What are the facts? And the facts here are pretty much undisputed. And people forget the hearing last week, several of the witnesses that hearings in the Intel Committee were actually administration suggested witnesses or Republican suggested witness and they did not dispute the facts. The President withheld funds and, by the way, the President withholding funds without advising congress as to why is a violation of the law in itself. Forget the reason he was trying to do it for, but you also have the fact that he was trying to extort sovereign nation to engage in political favors for him. That is a very serious crime and an impeachment offense and this is what it is all about. Republicans don't dispute that. They're trying to bring up everything else. And you know, I think — I think Ambassador Hill last week gave the clearest explanation of how this has been debunked and why the Russians would do it and so, you know, I hope people paid attention to that. I doubt if many Trump supporters watched those hearings. I hope they watch the Judiciary hearings. I hope that when articles of impeachment comes to the House floor, which I am sure they will, they watch that as well. 

 

CNN Right Now
December 2, 2019
1:00 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Conspiracy World]

BRIANNA KEILAR: And as the Republicans run out of defenses for the President’s actions on Ukraine, Senators spreading more conspiracy theories instead.

(....)

1:08 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Conspiracy World; GOP Senator Spreads Debunked Conspiracy That Benefits Russia]

KEILAR: The impeachment inquiry has brought President’s Trump’s belief in a conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election, not Russia, into a full view and now, Republican lawmakers seem to be picking up this, peddling this conspiracy theory, despite multiple U.S. intelligence agencies concluding that it was Russia, actually, that interfered in the election and there’s one senator in particular, Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, who has continued to muddy the waters on this. 

[CLIPS]

KEILAR: Well, now the President is thanking the Republican senator “for the job he did in representing the Republican Party” and pushing this debunked conspiracy theory. I want to bring in CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger to talk about this. I mean, this is debunked. The entire community says Russia interfered and I mean, they — people were indicted. They were named. It was laid out so clearly. It wasn’t amorphous. It was very specific and also this is the very conspiracy theory that two weeks ago, Fiona Hill, the President's former top Russian adviser, basically said to Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, this is not real. This is something that originated with Russian intelligence. You’re doing a disservice by repeating it.

GLORIA BORGER: And senators were briefed on it. 

KEILAR: That’s right.

BORGER: Apparently not — apparently not this senator, as he said. Look, I think in that interview, we — first of all, we've seen this senator go back and forth and back and forth on this. And he said to Chris Cuomo, you know, I was wrong, and then he went and reversed himself yesterday on Meet the Press, and Chuck Todd, I think, raised the right question, which is, when is a fact a fact? 17 intelligence agencies in this country agree that Russia meddled in the election and there is no Ukraine in there. You know, maybe some Ukranian politicians said some things that Donald Trump didn't like about him, but there — the meddling — and meddling is too light a word. Hacked into — tried to affect or did affect the election by the Rus — it’s the Russians and I think now that you have Senators dabbling, not dabbling, promoting —

KEILAR: Yeah.

BORGER: — this conspiracy theory, leaves you sort of wondering what will happen on the Senate floor during impeachment. 

KEILAR: Yeah. I mean, to be clear, it was a Ukranian leader, maybe more, who obviously didn’t like what Trump was saying —

BORGER: Sure.

KEILAR: — because it was sort of pro-Russia, anti-Ukraine —

BORGER: That’s right.

KEILAR: — but that's more of something like — I don't want to say influencing an election, but that’s just — 

BORGER: You’re allowed.

KEILAR: — that’s the opinion, which wasn’t particularly surprising and it certainly doesn’t match up — it’s not even close to the same species when you're looking at what Russia did the time.

BORGER: Of course, it's not meddling. You're allowed to express an opinion of something in your own country. This is not covert action to try to actively change the outcome of an election. It's an apple and an orange. 

KEILAR: Yeah.

(....)

2:20 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Conspiracy World; GOP Senator Spreads Debunked Conspiracy That Benefits Russia]

KEILAR: And we just mentioned conspiracy theories. Well, a Republican senator will not stop pushing a made-up story about Ukraine and the 2016 election and today he got a big thank you from the president for it. We'll talk to David Axelrod next. 

(....)

2:25 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Conspiracy World; GOP Senator Spreads Debunked Conspiracy That Benefits Russia]

KEILAR: The impeachment inquiry has brought President’s Trump’s belief in a conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election and not Russia, into a full view and now, Republican lawmakers seem to be picking up this, peddling this conspiracy theory, despite multiple U.S. intelligence agencies concluding that it was Russia that interfered in the election and there’s one senator in particular, Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, who continues to muddy the waters on this. 

[CLIPS]

KEILAR: And now the President is thanking Senator Kennedy “for the job he did in representing the Republican Party” by pushing this debunked conspiracy theory. We have David Axelrod with us. He’s our CNN senior political commentator. He's the host of CNN’s The Axe Files. I mean, David, it seems like almost every segment we have been debunking conspiracy theories. We've been discussing conspiracy theories. It's one after another, how concerned are you as you watch some of these take hold in a very real way? 

DAVID AXELROD: Well, look, we saw it all on display during the hearings before the Intelligence Committee, this was a line that many — several of the Republican members there were pushing. I think Fiona Hill knocked it down rather forcefully during that hearing and I think, you know, we haven't heard it as much from senators, and that's what made Kennedy's remarks most notable. He — he picked up the House Republican theme on this, but there is no evidence of it. I think it is going to be an article of faith for the President's supporters, particularly in his Republican base. But in the fact-based world, there's no support for it, the other guy you mentioned, Trump, gave him a big thumbs up, the other person who’s very happy with it is Vladimir Putin, of course, who would love to see the blame for what happened here in 2016 shift to the Ukrainians. 

KEILAR: Do you think — I mean, you know Senator Kennedy is a very smart person. It's hard to believe that having taken a look at the evidence out there, I mean, there's an entire report from the intelligence community. The entire intelligence community that details how Russia hacked or how Russia meddled in the election, and you know, you take a cursory glance at the lack of evidence when it comes to this Ukraine there. Surely he knows that, do you think — do you think he does know that and he's just putting out bunk knowingly? 

AXELROD: Yeah, I mean, think he picked up on Republican talking points and picked up on the President's talking points and he got out, you know, way over his skis. I think in a parlance, that Senator Kennedy would appreciate that dog just won't hunt when you look at the facts, and in fact, he seemed to have pulled back a little bit from it, but there's no doubt that he was recycling, you know, Trump talking points as a misdirection from what actually happened in 2016. 

KEILAR: Yeah, he seemed to add Russia as well to this. He didn't fully pull back on the Ukraine thing, but he softened it for sure.

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