“Please go through the facts,” she said at the outset of that interview, perhaps not understanding that Trump is not well-known for adherence to facts. “Characterize what took place.”
Trump was off to the races. Bartiromo did interject, it’s worth noting — twice to say “right” and four times to say “yes.”
When Americans are critical of those who touted false claims about the election, it’s therefore certainly fair for Bartiromo to get a little defensive. So, on Sunday, she took the opportunity of an interview with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) to suggest that other “lies” were more deserving of the title “big lie.”
“Let’s take a look at the biggest lies of all since the Democrats came up with this ridiculous ‘big lie’ about election integrity,” she said. “These are actually the biggest lies.”
“The Russia hoax, based on a made-up dossier to try to take down Trump,” she continued. “An impeachment of Trump with absolutely no crimes attached to it. The Hunter Biden laptop and all of his business deals and the money that he received from everybody from the former Moscow mayor’s wife, to the Chinese companies tied to the Chinese Communist Party. The origins of covid-19, a lab leak, and the treatment. And then, of course, there’s the armed insurrection.”
She asked Johnson — who also supported Trump’s post-election narrative — how many firearms were seized at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
The senator has repeatedly objected to calling the insurrection “armed,” so he cleanly knocked the ball off the tee.
Of course, “armed” only means “carrying a weapon,” and is not focused on firearms specifically. Countless weapons were used during the riot, including sticks, bear spray and flagpoles. At least 40 people have been charged by the federal government with using a deadly or dangerous weapon to attack law enforcement officers.
The idea that using the phrase “armed insurrection” is somehow a “bigger lie” than the claim that the election was stolen — an evidence-free false claim believed by a third of the country — doesn’t pass the smell test. Nor do the other claims Bartiromo made.
The “Russia hoax.” There has been a remarkable push in recent months to equate the response to Jan. 6 violence in the same terms as what Trump evocatively deemed the “Russia hoax.” Trump’s effort to cast the investigation into Russian interference in 2016 as unfounded and biased has been remarkably successful, as Bartiromo makes obvious.
Specifically, it is not true that the investigation was “based on a made-up dossier to try to take down Trump.” There was a dossier of largely speculative and heavily debunked claims that circulated late in the election. But the inquiry itself was predicated on multiple points of contact between Trump’s team and Russian actors and on the revelation that a Trump campaign adviser had been informed that spring that Russia had emails incriminating Trump’s opponent that year, Hillary Clinton. Ultimately, the investigation raised unresolved questions about connections between Trump adviser Roger Stone and WikiLeaks, the conduit for material stolen by Russia, and established a connection through Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort in which proprietary polling was passed to an individual linked to Russian intelligence.
The dossier was a useful distraction for Trump, so it was used.
The “impeachment with no crimes attached.” Trump was impeached twice. The first impeachment in 2019 centered on his having tried to pressure Ukraine into announcing an investigation of Joe Biden — pressure that was robustly documented during the impeachment trial. Trump’s defense team tried to argue that this didn’t meet the standard of a “high crime and misdemeanor,” which Trump allies reframed to suggest that only a proven violation of federal law could warrant impeachment. That is not, however, an actual requirement.
Trump’s second impeachment focused on his having stoked the attack at the Capitol on Jan. 6. There’s no question that, without Trump’s repeated false claims about the election and his encouragement that people show up that day, there would have been no such event.
It’s worth pointing out that Bartiromo’s framing here doesn’t make much sense. What’s the purported “lie” at issue here? That Trump … should be impeached? Behaved inappropriately? She’s conflating “arguments the left shouldn’t have made” with “lies,” which isn’t how that latter word works.
The “Hunter Biden laptop.” The “lie” here, it seems, is that much of the media treated revelations purportedly derived from a laptop once belonging to Joe Biden’s son as unimportant or dubious. There were and are reasons to retain both of those positions. There has been an ongoing effort to surface new aspects of the material from that device (a device, mind you, that has not been made publicly available for scrutiny) that are deployed as lines of attack against Biden.
Even if the most explosive allegations against the president’s son were true, Bartiromo’s argument that this constitutes a “bigger lie” than the false claims of election fraud is questionable. Unless, of course, you, like Bartiromo, are implicated in the latter.
The “origins of covid-19 and the treatment.” Here, Bartiromo is channeling Trump himself, who, after a burst of new attention being paid to the possibility that the coronavirus emerged from a lab in China, declared that this was therefore what had happened, thereby somehow in part exculpating his approach to the pandemic. There is a difference between more voices saying “this is possible” and proof that the possibility actually occurred, but because Trump (and apparently Bartiromo) are battling the agreed-upon consensus instead of falsehood, they see this as vindication.
The quick “treatment” mention by Bartiromo is probably a reference to a recent study suggesting that hydroxychloroquine was effective in treating covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. Other studies have shown different results, which is why the federal government, under Trump, pulled its authorization to use it in covid-19 treatments.
Again, the point here is obvious to the point of clumsiness. Bartiromo and Johnson don’t want people talking about the “big lie” to which they were prominent parties. Instead, they want to reframe that term to apply to other things of lower immediate significance and which are only clumsily described as lies.
Not that Bartiromo doesn’t actually believe that she’s correct about this stuff.
“We’ve been on the right side of it for seven years going,” she said Sunday. “I’ve been trashed every day along the way. Keep trashing me. I’ll keep telling the truth.”
It would be useful if she did.