The folks at Fox & Friends on Monday morning took a head-on approach to the issue dogging the White House since last week. Co-host Brian Kilmeade cited reporting from the news website Axios indicating that President Donald Trump, behind the scenes, was outraged by the behavior of Rob Porter, the White House staff secretary who left his post after published reports carrying allegations that he'd abused two ex-wives.
"So the president is just as outraged as many Americans about the alleged domestic abuse, which looks pretty strong--the evidence, strong, against Porter--why won't he say that publicly?" co-host Brian Kilmeade asked White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley.
To which Gidley responded, "Well, I don't know if he's going to say that publicly or not and I have not spoken with the president about this. But I can say, we lean on a process here at the White House and, quite frankly, as soon as we learned about this on Tuesday, by Wednesday Rob Porter was gone. The president has been very clear that all forms of abuse, all forms of battery against women are deplorable and disgusting."
Kilmeade: "He hasn't said that."
Gidley: "Right, but you haven't talked to him today. Obviously he's said that multiple times in the past. But in this particular instance, you're talking about sources that I can't verify because I've not had that conversation with him. But I know for a fact--I've talked to the president about issues surrounding this type of behavior, and he finds it disgusting."
Well, there you have it.
When you interview a Trump White House official, there's invariably so much garbage coming out that's it's tough to properly dispose of it all.
Kilmeade did good work in hopping on the fact that the president hadn't in fact condemned domestic violence after we heard of the allegations and the chilling photographic evidence that accompanied them. There was also a giant hole, however, in Gidley's praise of process: As the Washington Post has reported, top Trump administration officials knew for months about allegations against Porter. Contrary to Gidley's suggestion, the White House was by no means blindsided by this matter.
And perhaps Gidley could supply a list of all those times Trump has stepped out to condemn violence against women. We could then compare that list with all those times that Trump has issued supportive statements of men accused of sexual assault, harassment or misconduct.
"We hope he has a wonderful career. Hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him," Trump said last week in reference to Porter. On Saturday he tweeted, "Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused--life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?"
Before Gidley could skate to other topics, co-host Ainsley Earhardt asked: "Hogan, will you and [White House press secretary] Sarah Huckabee Sanders--will y'all get together and maybe advise him and talk to him about--this is an opportunity when he can come out against domestic violence. I mean, those pictures are horrific."
Gidley lapsed into the same talking point: "They were, absolutely. But the president has been out against domestic violence for a long time. In the Oval Office, the thing you're probably talking about, he was asked specifically about Rob Porter. The president thinks that domestic violence is grotesque. He's said that on multiple occasions. And there's no place for it in this country, there's no place for it in this White House, and the president won't stand for it."
Given the sort of coverage Fox has supplied in relation to the Trump administration, we'll take this formula: One Fox & Friends co-host presses a White House official on the news of the day, forcing him into an absurd frenzy of dissembling. And another Fox & Friends co-host suggests management remedies to prevent this atrocity from recurring. Let's call it a plan.
Editorial on 02/14/2018
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