CBS News correspondent Ed O'Keefe attempted to defend the actions of General Mark Milley's secret unauthorized contact with his Chinese counterpart by claiming that national security officials cast aspersions on President Trump's mental health. He added Milley was embarrassed about walking across Lafayette Square with Trump to an Episcopal church on June 1, 2020, where the president allegedly held up an upside-down Bible.
The problem? It was fake news. The "upside-down" Bible cited by O'Keefe was actually held right-side-up. A fact that O'Keefe should have known.
Even PolitiFact, known for its liberal bias, has labeled this as "Pants On Fire" fake news.
This false claim spread on social media earlier this summer, without evidence, and made it into several news reports and opinion pieces. But fact-checkers debunked it as early as June, and a review of still images and video from that day show clearly that it is inaccurate. Trump held the Bible right-side up throughout the event.
We rate the statement Pants on Fire!
Here is O'Keefe playing defense lawyer for Milley while using fake news to make his case on CBSN:
The new book "Peril" reports Gen. Mark Milley called China in the Trump administration's last months to assure the U.S. would not attack. @edokeefe says Milley's concern about Trump's mental state is "consistent with how many other national security officials...felt at the time" pic.twitter.com/Gi3s9yLulV— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 16, 2021
VLADIMIR DUTHIERS: So, Ed, I know that most people are talking about what General Milley’s alleged to have done and that’s according to a book that’s been written that is upcoming by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa at The Washington Post. But let’s talk about what — the reason why General Milley may have reached out to his counterparts. That, to me, is more significant than what I am told by every senior military officer that I have spoken to in the last couple of days, who’ve said this is what the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would be doing. Let’s talk about why he was doing it. What was the reason why General Milley wanted to reach out to his counterparts in China based on what he was seeing in the White House?
And O'Keefe defended Milley by citing a fake news story.
ED O'KEEFE: Based on the reporting of the book it was concerned that the President was slipping into some kind of mental anguish and he might try to lash out, specifically at China, by launching some kind of an attack. So in October, before the election last fall and then again in early January, just two days after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol he reached out to his Chinese counterpart and essentially said, we are not planning to do this and if for some reason we are, we’re going to let you know. That is actually standard operating procedure when it comes to interactions between nuclear armed powers....[It is?]
But again, notable that Milley is either himself or through his people confirming this and letting them he know that it happened. And we need to remember that a lot of this is driven by the fact that Milley was flanking the former president when he walked across Lafayette Square last summer, as they cleared the crowd there so he could go and hold a Bible upside down in a church across the street. In the days after that, Milley made clear publicly and privately that he was quite anguished about being involved in that. He was taking steps to ensure that people understood the military would never be used against American civilians as it’s not supposed to be.
When a major news correspondent doesn't know that this "fact" has long ago been debunked as "Pants On Fire," perhaps his pants are also on fire.