The Sunday Shows Went on a Collective Anti-Trump Drive-By, and Missed

January 7th, 2024 11:53 PM

Across the dial, Sunday political affairs shows took it upon themselves to attempt to make GOP members of Congress squirm in response to statements made by former President Donald Trump. This collective drive-by attempt failed miserably, hitting nothing but air.

First up, Speaker Mike Johnson. Watch as CBS’s Margaret Brennan tries to make him flinch over Trump’s “poisoning the blood” rhetoric on illegal immigration during their interview on Face the Nation (click “expand”):

MARGARET BRENNAN: When President Trump says immigrants are poisoning the blood of our country, is that a statement you agree with? 

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE MIKE JOHNSON: That’s not language I would use, but I understand the urgency of president Trump's admonition. He's been saying this since he ran for president the first time, that we have to secure the border. And I think the vast majority of the American people understand the necessity of that, and I think they agree with his position. 

BRENNAN: But that statement goes beyond what you are personally comfortable with? 

JOHNSON: It's not language I would use, but- but I understand that it comes from…

BRENNAN: Because it sounds hateful. 

JOHNSON: Well, it's not hateful. What president Trump is trying to advance is his America First priority, and I think that makes sense to a lot of people. The current president, President Biden, wants additional supplemental spending on national security, but he denies the most important point of our own national security and that is our own border. And so, that is frustrating to…

BRENNAN: But you can say that without talking about blood? 

JOHNSON: It's -- President Biden's position is frustrating to us, the American people and to President Trump, and I think that’s what he’s- that’s what he’s articulating there.

Here Brennan engages in the classic activist conflation of legal immigration with illegal, which we would expect to see on Univision. Speaker Johnson proceeds to brush this aside as he proceeds to shut her denunciation attempt down. Frustrated, Brennan hectors Johnson by cutting him off and saying “because it sounds hateful”. Johnson calmly brings discussion back to the ongoing border disaster, thus ending this attempt.

NBC’s Kristen Welker use a slightly different angle on the same quote with House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik on Meet the Press. Wherein Brennan just emoted at Speaker Johnson about hatefulness, watch as Welker tries to pin the Mein Kampf outrage on Stefanik (click “expand” for transcript):

KRISTEN WELKER: I want to ask you- you talk about moral clarity and I want to ask you about something that former President Trump recently said. He referred to migrants as, quote, “poisoning the blood of our country”. This is language that the Biden campaign, others, says quote, “is parroting Adolf Hitler”. Are you comfortable with former President Trump's comments?

U.S. REP. ELISE STEFANIK: Well, yet again, we have the media which is so biased, which is reiterating whatever the talking points the Biden campaign is giving. Let me be clear… 

WELKER: I'm just giving you the opportunity to respond. I'm just giving you the opportunity to respond. 

STEFANIK: Our border crisis…our border crisis is poisoning Americans through fentanyl. It is poisoning people, including in my district, who are dying from overdoses of fentanyl. And you know why? Because of Joe Biden's wide open border that- executive actions he took on day one. So yes, I stand by President Trump. And President Trump also has… 

WELKER: And his words? And his words? 

STEFANIK: Yes. And the strong- he has the strongest record when it comes to supporting the Jewish people and supporting the state of Israel. Whether you look at the historic Abraham Accords, or whether you look at the ability for Jewish students to sue and stand up for equal treatment at schools under the Title VI executive order that President Trump put into place, not Joe Biden. 

Stefanik forcefully rebuffed Welker’s drive-by attempt, which parroted the Biden campaign’s talking points, in a twofold approach. First by bringing the quote back to the border crisis and an explicit mention of fentanyl overdose deaths within her district, and then citing Trump’s record on Jewish affairs. That was that.

Finally, George Stephanopoulos tried to shame U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) over his endorsement of Trump despite his own reservations over the Capitol Riot of January 6th. As the interview on ABC News This Week wrapped, Stephanopoulos tried to make Gonzales feel shared responsibility for Trump’s post-election statements. This, too, was soundly rebuffed (click “expand” for transcript):

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But what he's talked about if he's president again is suspending the constitution, using the military to suppress protests under the Insurrection Act, pardoning those protesters, and bringing treason charges against the outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. You're endorsing that as well. 

U.S. REP. TONY GONZALES: I mean, if you want- if everything Donald Trump says and does, you want to put on my back, we're going to be here all day because he's a busy man. I look at it through the lens of, as a Member of Congress representing nearly half of the border, I can either focus on the shiny object and talk about, you know, what President Trump had for breakfast or what he said last night, or I can try to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to come up with real, tangible border security solutions, and that's what I have been doing nonstop. You know, once again, I've welcomed over 60 members, both Democrats and Republicans to my district last week. I will -- I will host anyone that wants to come to the border and find meaningful solutions. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: And I appreciate that. I hardly think that supporting the Constitution is a shiny object, but thank you for your time this morning.

Master Chief takes a different tack here, and just issues a blanket dismissal of Stephanopoulos’ concerns as a “shiny object”- a distraction from the work that needs to be done along the border. Stephanopoulos did not like the stiff-arm approach, ending the interview with his crack about supporting the Constitution.

Three attempted shamings of Republican members of Congress, which were rebuffed with three different approaches. This is but a reminder that there is still such a thing as the drive-by media. As we kick off this election year, we can expect many more such drive-by attempts.