Someone Overheard Something: Nets Pounce on Hearsay Allegations

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Someone told me about a phone call they overheard between someone else and President Trump on the other end: that was the crux of the “new evidence” out of Wednesday’s televised impeachment hearing that had the liberal media foretelling doom for the President. Despite the fact it met the literal definition of hearsay, ABC News, CBS News, and NBC News pounced on the testimony of diplomat Bill Taylor.

We learned something new. Ambassador Bill Taylor, the top diplomat to Ukraine, testified about a phone call between President Trump and Gordon Sondland,” announced failing CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell at the top of the program. “The takeaway from that phone call, according to Taylor, the President cared more about investigating his political rival than he did about Ukraine.”

O’Donnell then hyped the hyperbolic language used by the Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent to deride the Trump administration. “They use words like ‘alarming,’ ‘confusing,’ ‘irregular,’ ‘illogical,’ and ‘crazy’ to describe the Trump administration's policy towards Ukraine.”

In a high stakes game of telephone, Taylor told the Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee about a phone a staffer allegedly overheard and told him about:

Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kyiv. The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone asking Ambassador Sondland about the investigations. Ambassador Sondland told President Trump the Ukrainians were ready to move forward. Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine. Mr. Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for.

Of course, the definition of “hearsay” is the report of another person’s words, but that fact be damned on CBS. According to chief congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes, “[t]he exchange contradicts the GOP claim that this impeachment probe is based on hearsay, not direct evidence of the President's intent.”

 

 

There was a similar reception for Taylor’s testimony on ABC’s World News Tonight. “Millions watching on television today, and there was a surprise. New evidence not heard before,” boasted sensationalist anchor David Muir. “Today, he revealed what a staff member told him about a phone call President Trump allegedly made the day after that infamous call with the new president of Ukraine. That next day, the President, the alleged call, and what the President was asking about.”

ABC senior congressional correspondent Mary Bruce did her best to spell out Taylor’s accusation for viewers:

Taylor brought with him new information, raising new questions about the President's personal involvement. Taylor indicating that Trump himself was checking in to see whether Ukraine was launching those investigations. Taylor explaining he recently learned that just one day after the President’s phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, Trump followed up with the U.S. ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, the Trump mega-donor who had become his point-man on Ukraine

In addition to running a report touting Taylor’s allegations, NBC Nightly News trotted our political director and moderator of Meet the Press Chuck Todd to talk about how it may have “moved the needle,” as anchor Lester Holt put it. Of course, Todd agreed.

“Well, I think they did today because they got an additional piece of new information. And it’s new information that frankly makes you want to see the next episode,” he told Holt as if it was just entertainment.

In reiterating Taylor’s accusations, Todd actually joked about the situation: “Apparently, a second phone call after the call, here’s an eyewitness account or an ear-witness account of overhearing the President on the phone with Gordon Sondland. It makes his testimony crucial, Lester, to the point of it could be make or break type of crucial I think for the longer portion of this.”

For all their celebration of the “new evidence,” none of them dared to show the stunning moment when Texas Congressman John Ratcliffe (R-TX) asked both witnesses if there was anything impeachable about Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and they sat there in total silence. Ratcliffe also pointed out that for the accusations against Trump to be true, Zelensky would need to be lying at every point.

The transcripts are below, click "expand" to read:

ABC’s World News Tonight
November 13, 2019
6:31:53 p.m. Eastern

DAVID MUIR: And good evening from the nation's capital tonight. And we are here because of this moment in history. The start of impeachment hearings for President Trump. Only the fourth president to face these proceedings.

Millions watching on television today, and there was a surprise. New evidence not heard before. Two witnesses, two career diplomats chosen by the Democrats as the first two appear here. And that unexpected revelation from the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, a West Point grad, a Vietnam vet. Today, he reveal what a staff member told him about a phone call President Trump allegedly made the day after that infamous call with the new president of Ukraine. That next day, the President, the alleged call, and what the President was asking about. Now that staff member who says he heard the President has already been called to testify here on the Hill. ABC's Mary Bruce leads us off from Washington tonight.

[Cuts to video]

MARY BRUCE: After weeks of questioning behind closed doors, today, the impeachment battle burst into the open with millions of Americans watching.

(…)

BRUCE: Taylor brought with him new information, raising new questions about the President's personal involvement. Taylor indicating that Trump himself was checking in to see whether Ukraine was launching those investigations. Taylor explaining he recently learned that just one day after the President’s phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, Trump followed up with the U.S. ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, the Trump mega donor who had become his pointman on Ukraine.

(…)

 

CBS Evening News
November 13, 2019
6:31:42 p.m. Eastern

NORAH O’DONNELL: Good evening, and thank you for joining us on this historic night in the nation's capital.

For the first time in more than two decades, the country watched televised impeachment hearings and today was the first of many. We learned something new. Ambassador Bill Taylor, the top diplomat to Ukraine, testified about a phone call between President Trump and Gordon Sondland. That's the President's ambassador to the European Union. The takeaway from that phone call, according to Taylor, the President cared more about investigating his political rival than he did about Ukraine.

Taylor, a West Point grad and Vietnam veteran, and George Kent, the career foreign service officer, have served for decades under Republican and Democratic presidents. They use words like "alarming,” “confusing,” “irregular,” “illogical,” and “crazy” to describe the Trump administration's policy towards Ukraine. Both diplomats called freezing aid to Ukraine a threat to U.S. national security. Democrats call it an abuse of power that amounts to attempted extortion and bribery.

While the President today said he was too busy to watch. We'll break it all down with our correspondents who have been covering it with us all day and Nancy Cordes leads off our coverage at the Capitol. And, Nancy, day one is now in the history books.

NANCY CORDES: It is, Norah, and the hearing lasted the bulk of the day. Two key witnesses laying out in painstaking detail all the times they were told what the President wanted Ukraine to do in exchange for the release of military aid.

[Cuts to video]

Ambassador Bill Taylor came to Capitol Hill with a startling new detail about President Trump.

AMB. BILL TAYLOR: Last Friday, a member of my staff told me of events that occurred on July 26.

CORDES: That staffer, David Holmes, told Taylor what he overheard while sitting at a Ukrainian cafe with Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the E.U.

TAYLOR: Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kyiv. The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone asking Ambassador Sondland about the investigations. Ambassador Sondland told President Trump the Ukrainians were ready to move forward. Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine. Mr. Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for.

(…)

CORDES: The exchange contradicts the GOP claim that this impeachment probe is based on hearsay, not direct evidence of the President's intent.

(…)

 

NBC Nightly News
November 13, 2019
7:10:05 p.m. Eastern

(…)

LESTER HOLT: Let's bring on Andrea Mitchell now, our chief foreign affairs correspondent, and Chuck Todd, our political director and moderator of Meet the Press. Chuck, let me begin with you. Does this move the needle acknowledging there are more public hearings to come?

CHUCK TODD: Well, I think they did today because they got an additional piece of new information. And it’s new information that frankly makes you want to see the next episode, which is Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the E.U. Apparently, a second phone call after the call, here’s an eyewitness account or an ear-witness account of overhearing the President on the phone with Gordon Sondland. It makes his testimony crucial, Lester, to the point of it could be make or break type of crucial I think for the longer portion of this.

But look, the other part of this is what do the Democrats want out of this? If you're looking at today through the lens of “did they make the case to remove the President from office before the election?” I think it's way too soon to tell on that. But they did have a decent enough day one to make you want to see day two.

(…)

NB Daily Events Trump Impeachment Bias by Omission Conspiracy Theories Broadcast Television ABC World News Tonight CBS CBS Evening News NBC NBC Nightly News Video Mary Bruce David Muir Norah O'Donnell Nancy Cordes Lester Holt Chuck Todd Donald Trump

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