There’s more for the Fox News great-man profile: “My family fled the Soviet Union when I was three and a half years old. Upon arriving in New York City in 1979, my father worked multiple jobs to support us, all the while learning English at night. He stressed to us the importance of fully integrating into our adopted country,” he writes. He even assimilated!
All these Fox News credentials, however, didn’t earn Vindman much consideration on Monday night’s edition of "The Ingraham Angle" with host Laura Ingraham. Near the top of her show, Ingraham picked up on a New York Times story indicating that Vindman, the National Security Council’s top Ukraine hand, would testify he considered President Trump’s appeal to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “so damaging to American interests that he reported it to a superior.”
Just another act of patriotism from a patriotic immigrant service member? Not according to Ingraham and her guest John Yoo, a former deputy assistant attorney general during the George W. Bush administration:
Ingraham: I want to get to some breaking news tonight: Fox News has confirmed that a White House national security official — his name is Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. He is going to tell impeachment investigators tomorrow in a statement that has been distributed to some media outlets that he twice reported objections over Trump’s call with Ukraine.But get this: This is buried in The New York Times piece tonight, but I found it very interesting. He’s a decorated colonel, by the way, in the Iraq war, ‘Because Colonel Vindman immigrated from Ukraine along with his family when he was a child and is fluent in Ukrainian and Russian, Ukrainian officials sought advice from him how to deal with [Trump lawyer Rudolph W.] Giuliani though they typically communicated in English.’Now, wait a second, John. Here we have a U.S. national security official who is advising Ukraine while working inside the White House apparently against the president’s interest and, usually, they spoke in English. Isn’t that kind of an interesting angle on this story?Yoo: I find that astounding, and some people might call that espionage. But it doesn’t actually seem to add any new facts to what we know. In terms of come . . . I think Alan raises a good point, this is a high crime and misdemeanor. Whether you have one person or five people all saying “we objected to what the president said with the president of Ukraine?” We have a transcript of the call. We can all make our judgment.I don’t see how this breaking news actually adds more facts to what we know about whether this isn’t an impeachable offense or not. And that’s something I think actually the American people should decide rather than just the House. And I think they should decide through the next election.
The idea that this Fox News archetypal hero had engaged in espionage was allowed to hang out there in the cable-news ether, never to be batted down for its extremism and preposterousness. That’s the way that Fox News rolls — by setting up its guests to say inflammatory and irresponsible things. If the resulting outrage overwhelms Twitter and Facebook, perhaps the network will apologize and/or declare that the offender won’t be invited back on air, but those occasions are rare.
A telling footnote to the Ingraham-Yoo exchange relates to timing. The New York Times published its story on Vindman — from which Ingraham quoted — at 8:43 p.m. Ingraham and Yoo attacked him at 10:07 p.m. Quite an efficient turnaround.
In fairness: CNN broadcast similar garbage as delivered by paid contributor and former congressman Sean Duffy: “It seems very clear that [Vindman] is incredibly concerned about Ukrainian defense,” he said. “I don’t know about his concern [for] American policy, but his main mission was to make sure the Ukraine got those weapons. I understand it: We all have an affinity to our homeland where we came from. Like me, I’m sure that Vindman has the same affinity.”
But unlike CNN, Fox News’s attacks spanned programming. On Tuesday morning’s “Fox & Friends,” co-host Brian Kilmeade tested out a less slanderous criticism of Vindman: “He’s got a Purple Heart. He got hit by an IED in Iraq. We also know he was born in the Soviet Union, emigrated with his family, young. He tends to feel simpatico with the Ukraine,” said the co-host. Apparently he didn’t read the part where Vindman wrote about the focus of his “entire professional life.”
The episode says something about the so-called principles of Fox News: The moment that they come into conflict with the agenda of President Trump, they crumble. They’re forgotten, tossed aside. Veterans Day is around the corner, however, so they’ll be back soon enough.