If you were watching any cable news yesterday you were likely treated to a number of split-screen moments as the Barr hearing unfolded at the same time that an apparently failed coup attempt was taking place in Venezuela. Most of the networks broke away at one point to cover some remarks by John Bolton on the subject. (More on that in a bit.) But if you happened to be watching MSNBC while all of this was going on, you might have caught one of the more bizarre bits of “analysis” to be broadcast in recent memory.
I didn’t happen to catch it myself (I was watching CNN), but the Free Beacon picked up on a segment where MSNBC hosts Brian Williams and Nicole Wallace were discussing the situation in Venezuela. After some of the usual chatter, Wallace suddenly declared (absent any evidence whatsoever) that it wasn’t entirely “clear” who the United States was backing in the standoff between dictator Nicolas Maduro and self-declared interim President Juan Guaido. The reason? Trump’s supposed collusion with the Russians, of course!
MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace said Wednesday that because of Russia it is “not clear which side we’re on” in Venezuela, as a news graphic flashed showing the Trump administration is firmly supporting the government’s opposition…
“I think one of the conundrums of the Trump presidency is because there’s been such a lack of clarity around foreign policy, around some key American adversaries like Russia, when these crisis come to pass, people are disoriented,” Wallace said. “It’s not clear which side we’re on, not that the side we’re on is everything. There are civilians on both sides. These stories are very disorienting for people.”
“I think these stories land in a very disorienting way to a country that’s been sort of pulled into politics on just about everything,” she added
Let’s go to the video, just in case this seems unbelievable to you.
This is simply stunning. At that same time that Wallace was saying all of this, the network’s chyron was literally declaring, “Venezuela braces for more turmoil as Trump admin supports opposition.” But perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on Ms. Wallace. Maybe she doesn’t watch MSNBC. Still, the mendacity of that statement was breathtaking.
How much more evidence would anyone need? Their own network had just finished covering the interview with Bolton where he was still suggesting that we might have to send in troops to help eject Maduro. (Side note: I like John Bolton and have interviewed him a couple of times. But President Trump needs to get a leash on that guy once in a while. We don’t need another war in South America.) On top of that, the President has been out on social media backing Guaido all through this. In one thread he was threatening Cuba not to meddle in Venezuela’s affairs on the side of Maduro.
Trump has repeatedly offered to have a plane standing by to whisk Maduro safely out of the country and create space for a peaceful transition of power. How anyone can interpret this situation as “unclear” (in terms of who we’re supporting) is simply bonkers.
The sad part is that I’ve always liked Nicole Wallace. She was one of the Republicans that MSNBC added to their lineup and I not only cheered on her show as her ratings grew but hoped that her presence might steer the network at least a small bit away from the far left fringe. But for some time now, it’s appeared that the opposite effect has set in. Wallace was once the comms director for George W. Bush, but these days she’s sounding a lot more like Rachel Maddow. Maybe there’s just something in the water cooler over at MSNBC that eventually gets to everyone.