The most shocking thing about this clip is the fact that a Fox network (Fox Business in this case) decided to give Joe Walsh airtime.
But almost as shocking is the host insisting, contra two and a half years of daily evidence, that falsehoods told by the president never rise above the level of mild “spin and exaggeration.” Not 24 hours ago, a host on Fox Business’s sister network recounted some of Trump’s biggest whoppers for the Fox News audience. Did Varney not see that clip?
Or was there a Trump campaign staffer standing out of frame with a gun trained on him while this segment was happening? Even by Fox “state media” standards, this is way, way out there.
I thought the standard defense of Trump’s lying, including lying to his own fans about matters as momentous as whether the wall is being built, is that it simply doesn’t matter big-picture. We know he’s a bad character but look at the bottom line. Look at the judges he’s appointed. Look at economic growth. Look at deregulation. Look at him resisting his own advisors’ eagerness for war with Iran. Gotta take the bitter with the sweet. Righties made their peace with Trump’s personal flaws in the summer of 2016. I could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose a single vote, he famously said during the campaign, marveling aloud at the limitless line of moral credit the “party of values” had extended to him in the name of advancing its agenda. If Varney wanted to repel this attack by Walsh, that’s all he had to say. “You’re making a character argument that failed three years ago and will fail catastrophically in the primary next year.”
But that probably wouldn’t have worked for Fox’s most important viewer. “Loyalty” requires defending the president in all things, however absurdly. If that means telling the audience with a straight face that he never lies then that’s what it means.
Walsh is correct about the specific lie at issue in the clip, by the way. The background on that is here. Trump made up the fact that the Chinese had called after he hiked tariffs on them late last week, which implied that they were feeling the pressure and eager to make a deal. That created a spark of hope that the trade war might end soon, giving investors a reason not to dump their shares just yet. But all the Chinese did was put out a statement saying that they remain committed to negotiations. There’s no evidence that they’re about to capitulate. To Varney all of that falls under the heading of “spin,” never mind that the same “spin” told by someone who’s not in charge of the DOJ might earn them criminal charges for market manipulation.
Walsh: Do you believe this president lies?
Fox Business' Stuart Varney: No. He exaggerates and spins.
Walsh: Do you believe he's ever told the American people a lie?
— Lis Power (@LisPower1) August 30, 2019