Misinformer, Meet Liar: Correcting Maria Bartiromo’s Latest Trump Interview
Reprinted with permission from Media Matters
On March 16, Fox News Primetime and Fox's Maria Bartiromo hosted former President and Celebrity Apprentice host Donald Trump for a friendly interview full of the kind of lies and misinformation for which both interviewer and interviewee are known.
Bartiromo spent most of the interview lobbing softball questions and letting blatant lies go unchecked while the former president rattled off a series of lies and delusions. In several instances, Bartiromo herself was a source of false information.
Below is a list of some of the lies and distortions uncritically aired by Fox.
Trump's Phone Calls To Georgia Officials Conflated
Bartiromo misrepresented a correction issued by The Washington Postregarding a conversation between Trump and Georgia election investigator Frances Watson, asserting that the correction was in regard to the now-infamous conversation between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
The Post reported that Watson had a conversation with Trump in which the then-president pressured Watson to "find the fraud" and said she would become a "national hero" if she did so. The statements turned out to be false, meriting correction, yet Trump and right-wing media have used the error to excuse and vindicate Trump's behavior during the 2020 election and the aftermath.
As explained by Vox:
According to a newly surfaced recording of the call with Watson, Trump did not in fact use those exact words. He did say she could find "dishonesty" in Fulton County, and that "when the right answer comes out, you'll be praised." But the language of the quotes the Post attributed to Trump were not accurate. As a result, the Post had to run a prominent correction. Trump and conservatives are now scorning the paper, and even some mainstream reporters are looking askance and wondering how it happened.
The correction was merited — it's important for reporters (and their sources) to be careful in attributing exact language in quotes. And it is unfortunate that these incorrect quotes spread so widely.
However, Trump has used the correction to claim in a statement that "the original story was a Hoax, right from the very beginning," which is untrue. The original story that got so much attention was Trump's call with Raffensperger, for which we had the full and accurate transcript all along. It has not been corrected. Furthermore, it remains the case that Trump did in fact call Watson to insist he won the state and that she should turn up evidence revealing fraud. "The country is counting on it," he said.
More Lies About The 2020 Election
Trump stated that "our Supreme Court and our courts didn't have the courage to overturn elections that should have been overturned." Courage had nothing to do with it; in fact, of the 62 lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies in a desperate and embarrassing attempt to delay the inevitable, all but one were rejected.
The Supreme Court itself declined to take up two Trump-supported lawsuits over the election, rejecting a major one from Texas as lacking standing and saying all other pending motions were "moot."
Lies About Voting Bights Bill HR-1
Trump echoed Fox News's drumbeat of misinformation around HR-1, or the For The People Act, which would expand voting rights and increase campaign finance transparency across the country. Trump echoed Fox's claim that the For The People Act is not constitutional, despite legal precedent and even though experts have affirmed that H.R. 1 is a constitutional exercise of Congress' power. In the interview, Baritomo gave Trump free reign to echo right-wing media attempts to falsely paint the legislation as a corrupt attempt to seize power from Republicans and state legislatures.
Lies About Immigration
Trump said immigrants coming through the southern border would "destroy our country if they don't do something about it." He also claimed that there was an influx of migrants arriving from the Middle East. The claim likely relates to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's recent statement that migrants at the border are "not just people from Mexico or Honduras or El Salvador. They're now finding people from Yemen, Iran, Turkey. People on the terrorist watch list they are catching, and they're rushing in all at once."
There is no concrete evidence backing this assertion. In fact, according to The Washington Post, Trump's own State Department debunked the claim:
The Trump administration first asserted this in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections, offering a range of misleading statistics to buttress the claim that terrorists from the Middle East were filtering through the U.S.-Mexico border. But administration officials never offered any proof or identified a single terrorist.
In reports issued during the Trump administration, the State Department said that there was "no credible evidence indicating that international terrorist groups have established bases in Mexico, worked with Mexican drug cartels, or sent operatives via Mexico into the United States" and that "there have been no cases of terrorist groups exploiting these gaps to move operations through the region."
Trump claimed that he and his administration "came up with the vaccine, which is going to save the world." Of course, that's incorrect, and the COVID-19 vaccine went into development almost as soon as the coronovirus's genetic sequence was made public.
The claim also sits uncomfortably amid Fox News's reticence to encourage its viewers to actually get vaccinated. Hosts on the network are regularly sowing doubt and distrust in vaccinations, Tucker Carlson accused President Joe Biden of "vaccine coercion," and Laura Ingraham called Biden's COVID-19 relief speech "vaccine propaganda." The network is caught between indignation that Trump doesn't receive enough gratitude for the existence of the vaccine and assertions that the vaccine itself should not be trusted.
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