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Opinion Maria Bartiromo’s top 10 fails

Maria Bartiromo, center, appears before President Donald Trump speaks at the Economic Club of New York at the New York Hilton Midtown in 2019. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Former President Trump failed to secure a second term in office via lawsuits contesting the Nov. 3 election, a Capitol riot by his supporters or all this whacked-out chatter about “reinstatement.” Yet that doesn’t mean that he can’t still act out one of the rituals of his years in office.

Like gabbing his way through opposition-free interviews with Fox News hosts.

“Sunday Morning Futures” host Maria Bartiromo activated this particular time machine, showing how little concern her network has for documented reality that grinds against the Trump agenda. The two chitchatted for nearly a half-hour, with Bartiromo guiding the conversation to the former president’s safe, conspiratorial spaces. She has experience in this, of course: Just weeks after the 2020 election, Bartiromo hosted Trump in the midst of his legal challenges to Joe Biden’s victory, which had been confirmed by the data folks at Fox News itself. In that session, she propelled Trump’s fantasies about a stolen election.

The backlash over such moments appears to have unsettled Bartiromo, given the gripe that she articulated in Sunday’s “interview” with Trump: “Today, we are facing a situation where you’re not even allowed to discuss any of this. You get attacked on social media if you raise any irregularities,” she said.

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Or: You get attacked on social media when you let Trump continue lying with impunity. Here are some examples from Sunday’s episode:

1) “And what it is, is, they’re taking away your freedom of speech. They are taking away your right to speak.”

The Skinny: Here, Trump was referencing the tech giants Twitter, Facebook and Google — a trio that he sued last week for alleged “censorship.” Social media companies may, indeed, boot people from their platforms. Those people, of course, are free to exercise their free-speech rights elsewhere, including the nearest street corner. Folks with a high-school-level civics education know all that.

2) “But when you say they work with government, they work with Democrats within government and, frankly, outside of government. They work with the Democrats. It’s a Democrat machine. It should be a campaign contribution, the largest ever made.”

The Skinny: The argument that Big Tech is a Democratic monolith runs into some static when considering that Facebook has long functioned as a springboard for right-wing disinformation.

3) “I had suggested to the secretary of defense, perhaps we should have 10,000 National Guardsmen standing by. And he reported that, as you know, but I — we should have — and he was turned down. I said, it’s subject to Congress. They run it. Nancy Pelosi runs it.”

The Skinny: Powerful though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) may be, she cannot deploy the D.C. National Guard, whose own website states, “The D.C. National Guard is the only National Guard unit, out of all of the 54 states and territories, which reports only to the President.”

4) “We won this election in a landslide. We got 12 million more votes, Maria.”

The Skinny: Have a look at the transcript from this moment:

TRUMP: We won this election in a landslide. We got 12 million more votes, Maria ...
TRUMP: ... 12 million more than I got the last time ...
TRUMP: ... the last time I won. This was a rigged election. And the people aren’t standing for it. So, we will go forward.

5) “We were very disappointed by the Supreme Court, because they didn’t have the courage to take it up. They didn’t want anything to do with it.”

The Skinny: Some context here — the Supreme Court’s refusal to take up the Trump campaign’s effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election was among approximately 60 losses in court for Trump and his allies in the period between the Nov. 3 election and the mid-December counting of the electoral college votes.

6) “In fact, they just came out with a report in Congress, and they didn’t mention my name, literally.”

The Skinny: The Senate last month released a report on official failures relating to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. There are more than 40 mentions of Trump in the document, including this one, on p. 26: “Following the states’ certification, President Trump continued to assert that the election was stolen from him.”

7) “I will tell you they know who shot Ashli Babbitt. They’re protecting that person. I have heard also that it was the head of security for a certain high official, a Democrat.”

The Skinny: Ashli Babbitt is the 35-year-old Air Force veteran who was killed as she attempted to jump through a broken doorway in a Capitol hallway. As described in a Justice Department news release, Babbitt was “among a mob of people that entered the Capitol building and gained access to a hallway outside ‘Speaker’s Lobby,’ which leads to the Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives. At the time, the [U.S. Capitol Police] was evacuating Members from the Chamber, which the mob was trying to enter from multiple doorways,” reads the Justice Department release. The document identifies the person “involved” in Babbitt’s shooting as a “U.S. Capitol Police officer.”

8) “There was also a lovefest between the police, the Capitol Police, and the people that walked down to the Capitol.”

The Skinny: “You’re gonna die tonight,” screamed one of the rioters at a police officer in a video recently released by the FBI. From a CBS News report: “The Justice Department said at least 165 defendants have been charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers or employees, including more than 50 who were charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer.”

9) “If they’re going to do this very partisan investigation, because they couldn’t get support to do a straight investigation, a big part of that investigation is the reason that people went to Washington. And that’s because of the fraudulent presidential election of 2020. And that has to be a part of it.”

The Skinny: Have a look at the transcript surrounding this fraudulent remark by Trump:

TRUMP: If they're going to do this very partisan investigation, because they couldn't get support to do a straight investigation, a big part of that investigation is the reason that people went to Washington.
And that's because of the fraudulent presidential election of 2020. And that has to be a part of it.
TRUMP: And everybody that got there, I think, on the one side, those people want to talk about the reason they were there, because, to me, that's the biggest crime of all.
We had a corrupt election. We had a rigged election. We had a stolen election. And that's why you had over a million people march to Washington.

10) “We had a corrupt election. We had a rigged election. We had a stolen election. And that’s why you had over a million people march to Washington.”

The Skinny: About 30,000 people were expected to rally at Trump’s Jan. 6 speech.

There are more of these examples, as CNN’s Marshall Cohen demonstrated on his Twitter account.

After six years of protracted network sycophancy, there should be little that’s shocking about a top Fox Newser laying out the welcome mat for Trump’s mendacity. Yet somehow there is. Across the network’s programming over the past six months, we’ve heard complaints about how the mainstream media doesn’t sufficiently press President Biden or his spokespeople on the controversies of the day. And the same network permits Trump a platform to repeat his well-rehearsed myths without intervention.

That institutional deference may well undergo a test in a couple of years, as Republican presidential contenders start pressuring Fox News for airtime. Will the network perform similar propaganda services for the entire GOP 2024 field, or just for Trump?

Bartiromo’s case, moreover, is peculiar in this regard: Her “big lie” activities late last year landed her prime real estate in the defamation lawsuits from two voting firms — Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems — seeking damages from Fox News for its numerous broadcasts linking the companies to a corrupt election.

The Smartmatic complaint even names Bartiromo herself as a defendant, and it includes extensive documentation showing how the host used her program in the weeks after the election to launder the baseless charges of Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell, lawyers working to further Trump’s claims about the election. Dominion’s suit levels a similar allegation: “Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, and Sean Hannity also continued hosting Powell and Giuliani, giving them a platform to widely disseminate and repeat their lies about Dominion to a national (and, indeed, a global) audience, and embracing those lies as their own by endorsing and repeating them.”

Fox News has mustered vigorous defenses of its programming in both cases, stating in its Dominion response that it must cover both sides of a story. Okay, but both complaints present weighty defamation claims backed up by pages and pages of transcripts.

So Bartiromo has continued indulging the “big lie,” only now without mentioning the companies that have advanced defamation claims against her and Fox News.