Nets Fret: Trump’s CIA Pick ‘Referendum on Country’s Use of Torture’

Eager to tear down another one of President Trump’s nominees, on Monday, all three network morning show’s seized on a Washington Post article claiming that the President’s nominee to be CIA Director, Gina Haspel, considered withdrawing over the weekend, before her upcoming Senate confirmation hearing. Hosts and correspondents breathlessly hyped the story and worried about Haspel’s role in the enhanced interrogation of terror suspects after 9/11.

“Well, Trump’s pick for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, is facing a potentially brutal confirmation hearing here on the Hill later this week. And now, she’s reportedly getting cold feet,” announced Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce on ABC’s Good Morning America. Citing the Sunday story in the Post, the reporter highlighted how, on Friday, Haspel allegedly “offered to withdraw her nomination, but that White House officials scrambled to convince her not to step aside.”

 

 

Bruce then proclaimed: “Look, she is going to face tough questions about her role in enhanced interrogations. There’s no question that her confirmation has become a real referendum on the country’s use of torture.”

Only a brief mention was made of the President defending Haspel: “But the President himself is coming to her defense, just moments ago tweeting, ‘Gina Haspel has come under fire because she was too tough on terrorists.’”

On NBC’s Today show, co-host Savannah Guthrie told viewers: “Gina Haspel, the President’s controversial pick to run the CIA, set for a confirmation showdown on Capitol Hill this week. This after she considered withdrawing, but was convinced by the President over the weekend to stay the course.”

In a later news brief, Guthrie added: “Haspel, President Trump’s nominee to lead the CIA, offered to withdraw her nomination, amid concerns over her role in the Agency’s controversial interrogation program.”  She explained: “Well, Haspel, who faces a tough confirmation hearing on Wednesday, feared that the questioning could hurt her reputation or the CIA’s.”

Like on GMA, only a single sentence was offered in the Acting CIA Director’s defense: “This morning, the President tweeted, ‘Think of that, in these very dangerous times, we have the most qualified person, a woman, who Democrats want out because she is too tough on terror.’”

Introducing a report on Haspel for CBS This Morning, co-host Norah O’Donnell declared: “Haspel told the White House she wanted to step aside to avoid a brutal confirmation hearing and potential damage to the CIA’s reputation. Some senators oppose Haspel because of her connection to waterboarding of alleged terrorists.”

In the story the followed, correspondent Jeff Pegues asserted: “Haspel is set for a bruising confirmation hearing this Wednesday in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Senators are expected to grill her over her role in the controversial CIA interrogation program.” He continued:

But over the weekend, there were real doubts about whether she would even make it to the confirmation hearings. As The Washington Post first reported, Haspel told White House officials that she was considering withdrawing as the nominee, amid more questions about her involvement in that controversial interrogation program after 9/11.

However, unlike ABC or NBC, the CBS morning show spent more time pointing to Haspel’s supporters. At the top of the segment, O’Donnell noted: “The career official has support from six former CIA directors, including retired General Michael Hayden, who defended Haspel on Face the Nation yesterday.” Pegues mentioned backing from the White House: “Yesterday, a White House spokesman said that Haspel’s nomination will, quote, ‘Not be derailed by partisan critics who side with the ACLU over the CIA’....And just minutes ago, the President tweeted his support for Haspel.”

Following the President’s nominee to be Veterans Affair Secretary, Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, being forced to withdraw after unsubstantiated personal attacks were promoted by Democrats and their media allies, it seems the liberal press corps has now set it’s sights on Haspel.

Here is a transcript of the May 7 report on GMA:

7:11 AM ET

ROBIN ROBERTS: Now there are new developments on President Trump’s nominee for CIA director, Gina Haspel, who’s expected to meet with senators today after reports that she offered to withdraw her nomination because of her record on torture. Our Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce has more. Good morning, Mary.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: New Questions for Trump’s CIA Pick; Report: Haspel Offered to Step Aside Over Torture Concerns]

MARY BRUCE: Good morning, Robin. Well, Trump’s pick for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, is facing a potentially brutal confirmation hearing here on the Hill later this week. And now, she’s reportedly getting cold feet. The Washington Post reports that, on Friday, she offered to withdraw her nomination, but that White House officials scrambled to convince her not to step aside.

Look, she is going to face tough questions about her role in enhanced interrogations. There’s no question that her confirmation has become a real referendum on the country’s use of torture. But the President himself is coming to her defense, just moments ago tweeting, “Gina Haspel has come under fire because she was too tough on terrorists.” Robin?

ROBERTS: We’ll see what happens later today.

(...)

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