Geraldo on the whistleblower: I'd like to kick that rotten little snitch's ass

Maybe not a full ass-kicking but one punch at least: “I’d love to whop him,” says Rivera, who’s normally a voice of moderation on Fox panels (or outright leftism on immigration). It makes me laugh that the network spazzed out a few days ago when the Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles came on and called Greta Thunberg “mentally ill,” earning him an immediate indefinite ban, but one of their own regulars having a little on-air violent fantasy about a CIA officer who made trouble for Trump is just S.O.P.

In Geraldo’s defense, it’s not like this is the most violent fantasy a frequent Fox guest has had about the whistleblower and his sources in the past 48 hours.

Tom Nichols thinks/hopes Democrats will include Trump’s comparison yesterday of the whistleblower’s sources to spies as further grounds for impeachment:

The whistleblower’s reward for observing proper procedure has been a chorus of orchestrated Republican talking points aimed at discrediting him and his motives. The message from the GOP is clear to this and any other whistleblower who might ever threaten a Republican president: Cross our Dear Leader, and we will destroy you. Such is the patriotism of a party that is now nothing more than a seedy cult of personality…

Trump’s apologists will wave away his comments (including his reference to journalists as “scum”) as just another meaningless example of the president’s swaggering New York style of verbal venting. It might be acceptable for a rich kid from Queens to talk like a sociopathic mobster or beetle-browed junta enforcer when he’s trying to bully the local stonemasons and carpenters on his latest slapdash condo project, but it is utterly unacceptable in a president of the United States. The House Judiciary Committee should add this threat against a CIA officer to its list of impeachable offenses.

Interesting that he’d compare Trump’s chat with Zelensky to a sleazy real-estate bargain. Geraldo also compared it to real estate in another part of this morning’s “Fox & Friends” interview, a strange thing for a Trump ally to do given that that’s the point Democrats are trying to prove in accusing Trump of a quid pro quo. This was a transaction, they insist, a de facto exchange of U.S. military aid that had been promised to Ukraine on the one hand for a Ukrainian investigation of the Bidens on the other. So here comes Geraldo likening Trump’s shtick with Zelensky to how real-estate guys talk when they’re doing a deal.

Anyway. Fox antagonist Gabriel Sherman posted a buzzy story yesterday about turmoil at the network amid the aftershocks of the Ukraine story, with some of the turmoil merely alleged and some of it, er, pretty visible.

The schism was evident this week as a feud erupted between afternoon anchor Shepard Smith and prime-time host Tucker Carlson. It started Tuesday when Fox legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano told Smith on-air that Trump committed a “crime” by pressuring Ukraine’s president to get dirt on Biden. That night, Carlson brought on former Trump lawyer Joe diGenova, who called Napolitano a “fool” for claiming Trump broke the law. Yesterday, Smith lashed back, calling Carlson “repugnant” for not defending Napolitano on air. (Trump himself is said to turn off Fox at 3 p.m., when Shep Smith airs.) Seeking to quell the internecine strife before it carried into a third day, Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and president Jay Wallace communicated to Smith this morning to stop attacking Carlson, a person briefed on the conversation said. “They said if he does it again, he’s off the air,” the source said. (Fox News spokesperson Irena Briganti denied that management had any direct conversation with Smith).

Shep has not attacked Carlson again as far as I know, although apparently he did note in vague terms on this afternoon’s show that there are two streams of information about Trump and Ukraine right now, the facts and a “constant attacking of the facts that is interesting to watch.” I wonder who he means! A bit more from Sherman’s piece:

The ultimate referee of this fight will be Lachlan Murdoch. In recent months, Rupert’s oldest son has been holding strategy conversations with Fox executives and anchors about how Fox News should prepare for life after Trump. Among the powerful voices advising Lachlan that Fox should decisively break with the president is former House speaker Paul Ryan, who joined the Fox board in March. “Paul is embarrassed about Trump and now he has the power to do something about it,” an executive who’s spoken with Ryan told me.

That’s just a claim, but it does seem all too plausible that Paul Ryan would conclude that the opportune moment to thwart Trump is as a member of Fox’s board of directors, not when he was … Speaker of the House. That’s a sneak preview of the entire GOP the day after Trump leaves office, whether in January 2021 or four years later. A lot of well-known Republicans who couldn’t muster the stones to criticize him during his presidency will suddenly find their nerve the moment he’s no longer in a position to damage their careers. Although once ex-President Trump uses his Twitter feed to successfully organize a primary challenge to one of those critics, they’ll all clam up again.

In lieu of an exit question, via the Daily Beast, here’s a little more of the Fox News impeachment civil war in action.