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Monday, December 09, 2019

Right-Wing Media Distort Key Moments In Vindman Testimony

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Right-wing media distorted various key moments from Tuesday’s impeachment inquiry hearing of the House Intelligence Committee, in which Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified about his experiences working on the National Security Council and having been a witness to the key phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

At one moment in the hearing, Vindman responded after ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) had addressed him as “Mr. Vindman.”

“Ranking member, it’s Lt. Col. Vindman, please.”

The homepage ran a headline about the exchange declaring that Vindman “snaps” at Nunes, later changed to “scolds” and “pulling rank.”

Breitbart radio host Joel Pollak claimed that Vindman’s central testimony of hearing Trump’s phone call with Zelensky — and the pressure the administration applied for Ukraine to announce an investigation of Democratic 2020 candidate Joe Biden and his son — was “his own opinion” which had already been “debunked.”

But in his testimony, Vindman discussed how, as a matter of fact, he had heard the call, and that a request for a “favor” from someone in a superior position — such as Trump made to Zelensky after discussing U.S. military aid to Ukraine — would be understood as a command.

Pollak also peddled a misleading Breitbart headline to claim that Vindman had said there was no “pressure” on the Ukrainians, adding that the inquiry should be over.

The linked article itself simply quoted from an exchange between Vindman and Democratic committee counsel Daniel Goldman over whether the Ukrainians had ever approached him about feeling such pressures. “Not that I can recall,” Vindman answered — though he had also said he had become aware through other channels of Ukrainian concerns about delayed military aid.

Fox News host Laura Ingraham seized upon a Ukrainian official’s possible offer to Vindman of the position of Defense Minister — which is now said to have been “clearly a joke,” but which Vindman declined and reported to his own superiors at the time — to question how Vindman’s loyalties were “perceived” by Ukraine.

And when Vindman paid tribute to his family’s decision to immigrate to the United States from Ukraine when he was a child, right-wing talkers such as The Federalist’s Jesse Kelly simply ridiculed the display:


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Former President Donald Trump at an American military cemetery near Paris in 2018

AP Photo by Jacquelyn Martin

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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