Tapped to handle damage control on the stunning revelation that Donald Trump aggressively tried to pressure a foreign country to dig up dirt on his possible 2020 Democratic opponent, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo engaged in reckless bouts of misinformation during appearances on Sunday morning shows yesterday—and the hosts did nothing to stop him. In the process, those hosts joined a growing group of journalists who are leaning on “both sides” and false-equivalence journalism in order to both help Trump smear Democrat Joe Biden and to make it seem as if both men are under a cloud of Ukraine suspicion. (Only one of them is.)
Appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation, Pompeo was gently prompted about whether Trump's stunning outreach to Ukraine was “inappropriate.” He responded by stressing, “If there was election interference that took place by the vice president, I think the American people deserve to know.” The new allegation, that Biden interfered with elections in 2016, prompted virtually no response from the CBS host, who simply moved on with the interview.
Over at ABC's This Week, Pompeo pushed more baseless attacks: “If Vice President Biden behaved inappropriately, if he was protecting his son and intervened with the Ukrainian leadership in a way that was corrupt, I do think we need to get to the bottom of that.” The response from host Martha Raddatz? “We've seen no evidence of that yet.” Rather than pressing Pompeo and the administration to produce a single piece of evidence to support its Biden smear campaign, Raddatz suggested the Biden corruption evidence simply hasn't been produced “yet.”
Caught red-handed trying to collude for his re-election, Trump is trying to turn the Ukraine story into a problem for a prominent Democrat, and the press is helping. Hapless reporters are helping by not unequivocally stating that the conspiracy theory launched against Biden and his son has already been thoroughly debunked (see here, here, and here). And they're helping by treating the debunked smear as newsworthy and somehow equivalent to Trump's egregious colluding.