ABC & NBC Dismiss Whistleblower’s Credibility Problems

Listen to the Article!

During Thursday’s special reports on ABC and NBC covering the House Intelligence Committee hearing with Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, journalists rushed to the defense of the anonymous whistleblower accusing President Trump of wrongdoing in a phone call with the president of Ukraine. Any of the serious questions about the unknown official’s credibility were dismissed and denounced.

Joining ABC’s special coverage in the 9:00 a.m. ET hour, correspondent Terry Moran was particularly enthralled with the whistleblower’s newly-released complaint: “Well, it’s a remarkable document and it is a road map. It’s a road map for House investigators and potentially for Senate prosecutors in a potential impeachment...”

 

 

Minutes later, he added: “The other thing this does is give us a timeline. So we’ve got witnesses and we have a timeline now....We are now getting a better narrative as to what this whistleblower believes was wrongful action on behalf – on the part of the President.”

After anchor George Stephanopoulos noted Republicans continuing to stand by Trump in the face of Democrats’ impeachment push, Moran excitedly proclaimed: “And this whistleblower complaint makes it much more difficult because these are checkable facts. Witnesses identified, dates, places, names, a trail leading to the President of the United States and undermining his own defense.”

Following the hearing hours later, White House correspondent Jon Karl feared the administration rightfully questioning the whistleblower’s credibility: “...the White House is now going to make – and they’ve already started to wage a campaign to undermine the credibility of the whistleblower and the Inspector General.”

After legal analyst Dan Abrams rejected the President’s allegation that “this was a political hit job,” Stephanopoulos made this accurate observation about the congressional hearing that had just concluded: “And that did seem to be the other objective of the Democrats, was to protect the whistleblower and establish the credibility of the whistleblower.”

What he forgot to mention was that the media clearly shared that objective.

Moments later, Moran returned to hail the whistleblower’s account once again:

And the takeaway for me builds on what you’ve been talking about there, which is that the President’s initial defenses to this allegation have been undermined. He said the whistleblower is a partisan hack. As you point out, Maguire says, “No, he’s operating in good faith, did the right thing.” The President and some of his defenders have said, “This is all hearsay, secondhand, thirdhand." Well, in the complaint, the whistleblower identifies at least a half a dozen officials by name or otherwise, by position or function, who can be called to testify, turning hearsay into direct testimony right quick.

During the 9:00 a.m. ET hour special report on NBC prior to the hearing, anchor Savannah Guthrie welcomed on national security analyst and former Obama administration official Jeremy Bash to comment on the whistleblower complaint. She breathlessly asked: “Is there more in this complaint than that, that would tend to corroborate the central allegation here, which is that the President misused his office to try to get political dirt on an opponent by asking a foreign country to intervene?”

Bash predictably argued that there was and proceeded to applaud the efforts of the anonymous leaker:

This whistleblower complaint is detailed, it’s fairly comprehensive. It shows this whistleblower was concerned about this going all the way back to the mid-May time frame. This person, he or she, carefully, meticulously assembled facts, talked to multiple U.S. officials. I think it’s obvious the White House is gonna try to destroy this person’s credibility, but the other document that was just released, Savannah, was the Inspector General’s memo in which he says that he did an initial review and he found the allegations credible.

After the hearing, in the noon ET hour, NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt took over the coverage and asked Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd: “Chuck, we have – I think from the questions we know where Republicans are coming at from this, that is second and third-hand information. Does that make it any less of a bombshell, however?” Todd replied: “I don't think it does.”

To its credit, on Thursday, CBS continued to point out that the whistleblower had credibility issues, including an official finding of “political bias.” During the 9:00 a.m. ET hour special coverage, correspondent Nancy Cordes highlighted:

 

 

Another interesting detail, the inspector general of the intelligence community did determine that this whistleblower had a potential political bias. Perhaps didn’t want President Trump to be reelected. So you will hear Republicans talk about that today.

A short time later, co-anchor Gayle King wondered: “Is there any concern about the credibility of the whistleblower since it’s been stated that he apparently has a political bias and that he did hear this information secondhand?” Correspondent Paula Reid acknowledged that it would be a problem:

Exactly. So we know that this whistleblower did not hear this firsthand but he or she says that they heard from multiple U.S. officials about this....And the Inspector General says even though they know this whistleblower voted for the President’s rival in the last election, that they still found this individual credible. So that is significant. Whoever this is, they should be prepared for blowback and attacks against their credibility. The President was kind of lining those up, we started to see them on the far corners of the internet.

Following the hearing, co-anchor Anthony Mason noted: “Paula, a lot’s being made that this was secondhand information that the whistleblower got.” Reid responded in part: “Republicans and the administration, they’re really seizing on the fact that this individual did not have firsthand knowledge. They’re using that to undercut the whistleblower’s credibility.”

Apparently ABC and NBC are so devoted to the impeachment narrative being woven by the Democrats that any facts that run counter to that must be rejected.

Here are excerpts of the September 26 special report coverage on ABC:

8:54 AM ET

(...)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Terry Moran, you’ve had a few minutes now to read this complaint as well. Your thoughts?

TERRY MORAN: Well, it’s a remarkable document and it is a road map. It’s a road map for House investigators and potentially for Senate prosecutors in a potential impeachment and it goes backwards and forwards. There’s two things that I see right away that investigators would be interested in. First, witnesses. This whistleblower identifies people by name and position who were listening in to this phone call, who knew about it, and then who participated after the phone call in basically deep-sixing it, locking it down, putting it on a separate computer system to try essentially to cover it up. That is evidence, at the very least, of officials knew it was problematic if not actual consciousness of the President’s guilt that he had done something very wrong.

(...)

8:56 AM ET

MORAN: The other thing this does is give us a timeline. So we’ve got witnesses and we have a timeline now that, according to the whistleblower, begins last spring. And he details a lot of incidents and conversations involving the President, Rudy Giuliani, and others. As far – people in Europe meeting with Ukrainian officials, all of whom are witnesses to a considered and concerted effort over months to go after the Bidens through Ukraine. So what they have here is a road map that identifies who they can talk to and a series of events over months where the phone call is just one scene in this movie. We are now getting a better narrative as to what this whistleblower believes was wrongful action on behalf – on the part of the President.

(...)

9:02 AM ET

MARY BRUCE: Now, any moment from now, the Acting Director of National intelligence is gonna step into that room, right here around the corner from me, take the spotlight, and the first question he’s likely to face is why did he stop members of Congress from seeing this report? Even though it was deemed to be credible and of urgent concern. You have the chairman of the committee, Adam Schiff, himself this morning saying this should never have been withheld, that it exposes serious wrongdoing and he himself is saying that this report is the road map now for their investigation going forward.

You have Democrats saying that this is screaming for further investigation. They are likely going to want to dig into all of the other documents and the witnesses that are outlined in this complaint. They’re gonna want to talk to those White House officials who, according to this complaint, witnessed, it seems, and relayed concerns that they were witnessing the President abusing his office. And of course, those who were mentioned in this report who seemed to try and intervene to, quote, “lock down” the record of this call from being made public. But the big question, George, of course as you have been discussing, is how forthcoming is the White House going to be here given the fact they have stonewalling Democrats’ investigations at pretty much every turn?

(...)

9:09 AM ET

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Terry Moran, that Republican – whether or not they fall in line behind the President, is so key, because of course it was during Richard Nixon’s time that he was only forced to resign when Republicans broke.

MORAN: And this whistleblower complaint makes it much more difficult because these are checkable facts. Witnesses identified, dates, places, names, a trail leading to the President of the United States and undermining his own defense. He says it’s no big deal. If it's no big deal, why did his aides shift the record of this call from the normal computer system to a code-worded system? According to the whistleblower’s complaint, simply to protect the President politically. They knew he had done something wrong and he – the whistleblower also says it wasn’t the first time that a call with a foreign leader had been shifted from the normal place it was stored to a more secret place to help the President politically.  

(...)

12:22 PM ET

(...)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: The final question there, what the director did confirm is that he believes the whistleblower acted in good faith, that the inspector general who turned over the – who wrote the report from the whistleblower was also acting in good faith when he found the whistleblower’s complaint credible and that the Director of National Intelligence also found the complaint so credible that he made a criminal referral to the Department of Justice. I mean, to take a step back, the Director of National Intelligence made a criminal referral on the President of the United States.

JON KARL: Yeah, and this got lost in a lot of the minutia of this hearing, but you’re exactly right, because the White House is now going to make – and they’ve already started to wage a campaign to undermine the credibility of the whistleblower and the Inspector General.

(...)

12:25 PM ET

DAN ABRAMS: The other news that’s come out today, as you just summarized, we have this complaint from the whistleblower. We have the Inspector General having done a preliminary review of that complaint, determined it to be credible and of urgent concern. And now you have the Acting Director of National Intelligence saying, “I believe it was done in good faith and the right thing,” which is in direct contradiction to what the President has been saying, which is, in essence, this was a political hit job.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that did seem to be the other objective of the Democrats, was to protect the whistleblower and establish the credibility of the whistleblower.

(...)

STEPHANOPOULOS: What we just saw is really the first major public impeachment hearing.

MORAN: Exactly. And the takeaway for me builds on what you’ve been talking about there, which is that the President’s initial defenses to this allegation have been undermined. He said the whistleblower is a partisan hack. As you point out, Maguire says, “No, he’s operating in good faith, did the right thing.” The President and some of his defenders have said, “This is all hearsay, secondhand, thirdhand. Well, in the complaint, the whistleblower identifies at least a half a dozen officials by name or otherwise, by position or function, who can be called to testify, turning hearsay into direct testimony right quick.

(...)

Here are excerpts of the special report coverage on NBC:

8:55 AM ET

(...)

GEOFF BENNETT: But this hearing is critical, I’m told, for Democrats, as they try to push forward with this new formal impeachment inquiry. The House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, I’m told by several sources now wants to make this Ukraine controversy, this Ukraine question the central focus of this impeachment effort because the thinking is that this is something that is simple and straightforward, the American people can easily digest what Democrats see as the underlying bad act here. And whereas, other issues, such as the President’s tax returns, violations of the emoluments clauses, findings of the Mueller Report, a lot of that stuff is bogged down in the courts. And Democrats generally think that those issues and the hearings they’ve had here haven’t really moved the needle in terms of how the American public views the President. But when it comes to Ukraine, they think that they have the best argument to make here as they try to build a public case against President Trump.

One other thing on this, we likely – in fact, will not see the whistleblower, her or himself, appear in person today. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, at a press conference yesterday, had hoped that the whistleblower would be able to appear in private voluntarily, but I’m told by sources familiar overnight that the legal team is still waiting for some guidance from the Director of National Intelligence, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, on that issue, Savannah.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Alright, Geoff, stand by there. I want to go to Jeremy Bash, who is our national security analyst and was chief of staff at the Pentagon and the CIA. And I know you are looking at the complaint as well. I mean, one of the things that had been reported prior to the release of this unclassified version of the complaint was there was more than just the call at issue. We’ve now seen the hearing – the notes of the Situation Room call, the quasi-transcript, I’ve been calling it. So we’ve seen what’s in the call. Is there more in this complaint than that, that would tend to corroborate the central allegation here, which is that the President misused his office to try to get political dirt on an opponent by asking a foreign country to intervene?

JEREMY BASH: Yes. For example, one of the things, Savannah, that the whistleblower mentions is that on August 2nd, about a week after that phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky, Rudy Giuliani held a follow-up meeting to have direct follow-up from that phone call. So it wasn’t merely a phone call, there was an effort underway, launched by President Trump, to have Rudy Giuliani serve as that go-between. This whistleblower complaint is detailed, it’s fairly comprehensive. It shows this whistleblower was concerned about this going all the way back to the mid-May time frame. This person, he or she, carefully, meticulously assembled facts, talked to multiple U.S. officials. I think it’s obvious the White House is gonna try to destroy this person’s credibility, but the other document that was just released, Savannah, was the Inspector General’s memo in which he says that he did an initial review and he found the allegations credible.

GUTHRIE: He found it to be – I mean, this is – he had to, in order to pass it along, he had to find that the matter was urgent and there’s a particular legal definition given to that word, and that it was credible. He found both to be the case.

(...)

12:04 PM ET

LESTER HOLT: Let me go to Chuck Todd right now, moderator of Meet the Press. Chuck, we have – I think from the questions we know where Republicans are coming at from this, that is second and third-hand information. Does that make it any less of a bombshell, however?

CHUCK TODD: I don't think it does.

(...)

Here are excerpts of the special report coverage on CBS:

8:56 AM ET

(...)

ANTHONY MASON: The Intelligence Committee released the whistleblower’s letter to the public before the hearing. Nancy Cordes is in the hearing where testimony is about to start. There’s a lot of anticipation, Nancy. What is in this whistleblower’s report?

NANCY CORDES: This whistleblower’s report is, in a word, explosive, Anthony, and not because of the language that the whistleblower uses. He’s actually, or she, is actually quite dispassionate and specific, but the whistleblower lays out not just what transpired in the phone call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine, but what he or she claims White House officials did afterwards when, according to this whistleblower, they were very alarmed by what had just taken place.

(...)

8:59 AM ET

GAYLE KING: Nancy, we can certainly hear all the chatter around you, but can you tell us anything about the mood of the room? Because even before it started, it already seems very partisan.

CORDES: It’s very partisan, and obviously the stakes are incredibly high, because Democrats have really seen a sea change within their own rank and file this week when it comes to proceeding with impeachment. And now the discussion is not centered around whether the party should pursue impeachment, but when. And so, for Democrats, what they’re hoping is they get even more information out of this hearing that, A, sways the American public in their direction, and, B, that they can use to pursue articles of impeachment against this president. And many of them are hoping to be able to do that sooner rather than later, Gayle. They don’t want this to drag on for another year.

(...)

9:01 AM ET

MASON: Nancy, what, if anything, do we know about the author of this report? There’s no name on this document.

CORDES: Correct. We know very little aside from the fact that this is someone who is in the intelligence community, and apparently had been detailed to the National Security Council at the White House, and in that capacity had a lot of interaction with White House officials. We also know that this whistleblower very much wants to come to Capitol Hill and be interviewed by lawmakers. And so another question that you’ll hear this morning from a number of Democrats to the Acting Director of National Intelligence is, “Are you going to authorize this whistleblower to come and talk to us and speak expansively to us?”

Another interesting detail, the inspector general of the intelligence community did determine that this whistleblower had a potential political bias. Perhaps didn’t want President Trump to be reelected. So you will hear Republicans talk about that today.

(...)

9:08 AM ET

KING: Is there any concern about the credibility of the whistleblower since it’s been stated that he apparently has a political bias and that he did hear this information secondhand?

PAULA REID: Exactly. So we know that this whistleblower did not hear this firsthand but he or she says that they heard from multiple U.S. officials about this.

KING: And they even quote White House officials.

REID: Exactly. And the Inspector General says even though they know this whistleblower voted for the President’s rival in the last election, that they still found this individual credible. So that is significant. Whoever this is, they should be prepared for blowback and attacks against their credibility. The President was kind of lining those up, we started to see them on the far corners of the internet.

(...)

12:23 PM ET

(...)

NANCY CORDES: During the hearing, Republicans argued that a lot of the information in this very explosive whistleblower report came secondhand to the whistlblower. But then, Democrats got Maguire to acknowledge that so far everything in the complaint has matched up pretty closely with the summary of the President’s call that he had with the president of the Ukraine that was released yesterday.

(...)

12:27 PM ET

MASON: Paula, a lot’s being made that this was secondhand information that the whistleblower got. But the whistleblower says in this document, “The White House officials who told me this information.” So they’re saying it came from people inside the White House, essentially.

PAULA REID: Exactly, and that’s going to be where this goes now. They’re going to look for those people. Lawmakers are gonna want to talk to those witnesses. But Republicans and the administration, they’re really seizing on the fact that this individual did not have firsthand knowledge. They’re using that to undercut the whistleblower’s credibility.  

TONY DOKOUPIL: Democrats were eager to point out that this complaint was considered by Dan Mcguire to be a serious matter. The allegations credible, and in lay terms urgent and important. But Republicans pointed out that it has not been proven.

(...)

NB Daily Congress Trump Impeachment Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats ABC CBS NBC Video Terry Moran Chuck Todd Paula Reid Donald Trump

Sponsored Links