Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters
How bad does a right-wing smear have to be for a “Pizzagate” conspiracy theorist to reject it — but also to have Fox News personalities still push it?
On Thursday, the Trump campaign tweeted a video clip of House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) appearing on CNN to discuss the process following this week’s impeachment of President Donald Trump. In an effort to cast Democrats as full of “hatred and anger,” the campaign accused Clyburn of calling for Trump to be executed.
The problem is that the clip shows what Clyburn actually said, which contradicts the campaign’s claims about what he said.
During a discussion about House Democrats holding back the official transfer of the articles of impeachment until Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agrees to hold a full trial, Clyburn said: “If he doesn’t come around to committing to a fair trial, keep those articles here. So keep it as long as it takes. If you know, and he’s told you what he’s going to do — it’s almost like, ‘Let’s give him a fair trial, and hang him’ — I mean, it’s the reverse of that.”
Clyburn was speaking of the “reverse” of a quick trial that ends in a hanging — in this case, the possibility that the Senate might end the impeachment trial in a quick manner, without calling witnesses or pursuing any significant investigatory work — as indeed McConnell is indicating he intends to do.
But that hasn’t stopped right-wing media from completely twisting it around.
The Federalist pursued the most blatantly dishonest description possible of Clyburn’s words, making them out to be the exact opposite:
Later in the interview, Clyburn said that the Senate should give Trump a fair trial, then proceed to hang him.
“Let’s give him a fair trial, and hang him,” Clyburn said.
Brent Bozell, the conservative (supposed) media critic, falsely declared that the longtime congressman had just called for Trump to be lynched.
Fox Nation hosts Lynnette “Diamond” Hardaway and Rochelle “Silk” Richardson pursued a racial angle to attack Clyburn.
Though, to be sure, not all right-wing media are carrying this particular bucket of water for Trump. Washington Examiner Executive Editor Seth Mandel called it “a bad, out of context hit,” and Examiner reporter Siraj Hashmi even declared: “@TrumpWarRoom is engaging in the same practices it accuses the media of doing.”
But the real kicker here: Far-right media figure Jack Posobiec, who has pushed conspiracy theories involving such topics as “Pizzagate” and the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, noted the truth of the matter as far as what Clyburn actually said.
Apparently, even he’s got limits.