Some cable morning shows began their programming Friday with the blockbuster BuzzFeed News report that said President Trump instructed his former attorney, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress about a Trump Tower project in Moscow, which was later disputed by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s office.
On CNN, “New Day” host John Berman said the news was so big it almost caused him to spill his coffee. On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Willie Geist opened the show by calling the BuzzFeed report “a big one.”
On Fox News, however, “Fox & Friends” opened Friday with a different “breaking news alert”: A caravan of Honduran migrants is entering Mexico, unabated, and heading to the U.S. border.
“Listen guys, this is quite a significant development here,” reporter Griff Jenkins told the “Fox & Friends” hosts while speaking from a Mexican border town near Guatemala: “ . . . The main point is, these migrants, at this hour — 6 a.m. Eastern Time, 5 a.m. local — the border is wide open, there isn’t a single immigration official standing in their way.”
Jenkins, in the first of multiple appearances on the show, said he had counted anywhere between 500 and 1,000 migrants as they crossed a bridge connecting Tecun Uman in Guatemala to Mexico and that local officials had told Fox they did not plan on stopping them. A similar crossing took place at the location in October, when migrants were confronted by Mexican authorities.
As other cable shows dissected the BuzzFeed report, “Fox & Friends” co-host Steve Doocy called the news from the Mexico-Guatemala border “unbelievable,” while B-roll footage showed clusters of people passing through an entry point.
“It just looks like a mistake!” he exclaimed. “That’s their national border, and people are just walking through — they don’t know if they have any papers, no nothing.”
Then, “Fox & Friends” transitioned to what Doocy called the “lead story of the day”: President Trump pulling the plug on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Afghanistan after she suggested he postpone his State of the Union address.
“Nancy, you’re grounded,” Doocy said.
The BuzzFeed report was eventually addressed some 40 minutes into “Fox & Friends,” in a brief segment that includes some of the day’s headlines. The report was also discussed Thursday night on Fox News and in later programming on Friday.
The “Fox & Friends” hosts quoted Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who dismissed the report, saying: “If you believe Cohen, I can get you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge.”
The show’s hosts later returned to the BuzzFeed story, discussing it with Newt Gingrich, who laughed before saying that he agreed with Giuliani and that the report is “an absurdity.”
“Can you imagine any president of the United States being dumb enough to say to somebody, ‘I’d like you to go over now and lie to Congress?'" Gingrich asked. “It’s crazy, and only the modern liberal media would give it any credit.”
He then took a shot at BuzzFeed News and the veracity of its reporting, which cited two unnamed federal law enforcement officials. It was also discussed on Fox programming Thursday night, after the report was released.
On Friday evening, the special counsel’s office released a rare statement, disputing BuzzFeed News' reporting.
“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” the special counsel’s office said.
Ben Smith, the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed News, said the organization stood by its reporting and “urged the Special Counsel to make clear what he’s disputing.”
On Fox News, host Tucker Carlson said the breaking news had completely upended what the show had planned to talk about that night.