Fine by me. If Fox primetime’s hunt for a scapegoat for Trump’s latest mouth-fart requires them to take out one of his most abject sycophants in the Senate, have at it. By all means, rope Lindsey Graham into this mess when the last poll of his Senate race had him tied with Democrat Jaime Harrison.
Broadly speaking, I think each FNC primetime host has a different approach to bad news for Trump. Hannity is straight denial: Either it’s a hoax or a frame-up or, a la the Woodward tapes, if it can’t be outright denied then that it’s misleading somehow. Ingraham is more of a deflector, preferring to redirect the criticism with whataboutism about how bad Democrats are. Tucker is a scapegoater, searching for the true culprit in whatever’s bedeviling the president. I think back to his rant in May wondering who made a “buffoon” like Anthony Fauci head of the country’s COVID response. You and I and he all know the answer to that, just like we also know that it wasn’t Fauci who spent February and March mumbling that the virus would go away soon, just like it wasn’t Fauci who was pushing to reopen the country for business before March was out. But Carlson understands that criticism of the president needs to be delivered with a light touch in order for his audience (which includes the president himself, of course) to tolerate it, sometimes even to the point of not speaking Trump’s name. Just as Trump’s failings on the virus are Fauci’s fault and Trump’s foreign-policy shortcomings are the neocon defense establishment’s fault, his inane decision to give 18 interviews to Bob Woodward is necessarily Graham’s fault.
Makes you wonder why we should reelect this poor benighted naif who’s so easily manipulated by nefarious elites.
Anyway, Tucker’s not wrong about Graham encouraging the Trump/Woodward interviews:
“Yeah. The last book Woodward wrote, Trump said he didn’t know that he had wanted to be interviewed,” Graham recalled. “So I said, well, the guy is a well-known presidential author. And, you know, you got a chance to tell your side of the story. The president agreed and there you go.”
Graham went on to dismiss the idea that Trump was wrong to have downplayed the pandemic publicly. “The idea,” he said, “of the president saying we’re not all going to die seems smart to me.” But the public reaction to the Woodward book was yet another example of how the president and his team are often operating on vastly different planes, with Trump supremely confident in his ability to BS his way through any crisis and his aides often left to pick up the mess.
Graham’s attitude seems to have come from the traditional, if foolish, belief that if a well-known author’s planning a hit piece on you, you’re better off agreeing to an interview with him. You might earn some sympathy from him in your conversations, and even if you don’t you’ll at least have your side of the story included in his piece. For a disciplined politician, that might be a risk worth taking. For a politician who routinely sabotages himself by riffing stream-of-conscious, it’s almost suicidal. If Graham weren’t up for reelection in two months, I might buy Carlson’s insinuation that he convinced Trump to talk to Woodward expecting that Trump would do himself damage and it would help Biden get elected. Graham’s sycophancy is likely only an inch deep, after all; he’s an establishment politician, naturally more comfortable with an old centrist hand like Sleepy Joe than a firebreathing right-wing populist like Trump.
But since Graham *is* up for reelection in two months, Tucker’s theory doesn’t wash. A Trump collapse down the stretch might end Lindsey’s career too. Him talking to Woodward becomes more of a murder-suicide in that case. Why would Graham would want to arrange a hit on himself?
And why is it Graham’s fault that Trump chose to take his advice instead of the advice of the many, many people around him who were apparently warning him not to talk to Woodward?
Aides spent months fretting about President Donald Trump opening up to the famous Watergate journalist, fearing the consequences all the way through Wednesday’s bombshell revelations.
Trump bulldozed through them all, believing he could charm the man who helped take down a president and chronicled half a dozen administrations over the past half-century…
“You don’t talk the president out of things,” one White House official said Wednesday, one of 10 current and former White House officials who described the circumstances leading up to the latest book…
“Trump loves brands, and Woodward has been the gold standard for 50 years of investigative journalism around the presidency, so it’s the same reason why he likes the Gray Lady, he likes The New York Times. It’s the paper of record traditionally in his hometown, so even though both excoriate him, he’s attracted to them the way a low-IQ small moth would be to a flame,” said Anthony Scaramucci, who briefly served as White House communications director under Trump. “Trump is always convinced that if he talks to the person, he is going to elucidate and enlighten that person and get them to like him.”
I think Scaramucci’s exactly right. Trump sees Woodward as a “prestige” name and was flattered when that prestige name became keenly interested in talking to him. It might even seem like a presidential rite of passage to him, practically a perk of the job. A White House official told the Daily Beast that Trump was “ecstatic” at first to be talking to Woodward, suggesting that Graham didn’t need to twist his arm much. And naturally, a guy who’s successfully been able to talk himself into national celebrity, TV stardom, and ultimately the presidency — and talk himself out of all kinds of trouble, repeatedly — would believe that he had nothing to fear from Woodward. A man who could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue without losing a single vote might logically assume he could also get away with admitting on tape that he downplayed a virus which he knew from the start was much deadlier than flu and would end up killing 200,000 people. After all, that’s Fauci’s fault, or Graham’s fault, or Antifa’s fault, or whoever.
Tucker Carlson says that he has a source who told him that it was Sen. Lindsey Graham who brokered the interview between President Trump and Bob Woodward pic.twitter.com/FchaQvnAoY
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) September 10, 2020