There are a few censors at Fox News who are going to get very bad performance reviews this year.
They’re the ones who were working Sean Hannity’s show on Thursday. It was one of those split-screen showdowns we’re all very used to, this time over Trump’s coronavirus travel ban.
Geraldo Rivera, now in his 76th year, has regained a bit of the credibility he left in Al Capone’s vault back in the 1980s. His position as a sort of liberal-ish elder statesman on Fox News certainly beats his previous life of getting hit in the face with chairs by neo-Nazis whilst hosting his trash TV show. However, you can take a guy out of trash TV but you can’t really take the trash TV out of a guy.
Dan Bongino, meanwhile, has become a Fox commentator after a time in the Secret Service. He’s also an intense fellow, ardent conservative and the kind of man who has frequent flyer miles at his local coffee shop.
In short, these are two fellows who are primed for a fight:
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It began with an argument over controversial Trump adviser Stephen Miller — and got heated fast.
The problems started when Rivera brought up the fact that Trump’s Wednesday Oval Office speech was co-written by Miller, an immigration hawk whose associations and positions on contentious issues have made him a consistent target for criticism from leading liberals like Hillary Clinton.
Rivera noted that Miller was also the author of the “Muslim ban,” the term frequently used by the left to describe the Trump administration’s ban on entry for individuals from several Muslim-majority nations due to terrorist concerns.
“Dan, bail me out,” Hannity said, turning the conversation to Bongino.
“Geraldo, you realize you’re repeating Chinese propaganda here?” Bongino said. “I hope you understand that.”
Things got pretty screamy after that.
Check out the video here. WARNING: Some rough language is included.
“Oh, don’t give me that crap,” an animated Rivera said. “You’re a cheap shot artist!”
That, of course, came from a man who just used the “Muslim ban” appellation. Nevertheless, he persisted: “Chinese propaganda? You’re a cheap shot artist! You’re a cheap shot artist,” he repeated. “Talk to the facts. Talk to the facts.”
And that’s where the censors missed things: “You know what? You’re a bulls— artist, OK?” Bongino said.
“Chinese propaganda, you know what? You’re lucky you’re not in front of me, big guy,” Rivera, a man once knocked out on the set of his own TV show, told the former Secret Service agent.
“What you just said is Chinese propaganda — really? I strongly suggest you rethink that approach,” Bongino responded.
“You are repeating Chinese propaganda on this channel, and you know it. That Stephen Miller cheap shot is outrageous.”
The implication here involves the idea that calling coronavirus a “foreign virus” is somehow xenophobic. This was an argument we heard last week from CNN’s Jim Acosta (who once called it the “Wuhan Coronavirus“) and former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as countless pundits.
Part of the reason for emphasizing that the virus originated in China is that some Chinese officials would like you to believe it didn’t.
Zhao Lijian, an outspoken spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, implied in a tweet that the United States might have brought the disease to the city of Wuhan.
“When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!” he wrote in a Thursday tweet.
2/2 CDC was caught on the spot. When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation! pic.twitter.com/vYNZRFPWo3
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 12, 2020
This led to China’s ambassador to the United States being summoned to the State Department for a dressing-down. A State Department official told Reuters that the Chinese government was trying to divert attention from its responsibility for “starting a global pandemic and not telling the world.”
“Spreading conspiracy theories is dangerous and ridiculous. We wanted to put the government on notice we won’t tolerate it for the good of the Chinese people and the world,” the State Department representative told the news agency.
State Department spokeswoman Alyssa Farah also condemned the remarks as “false & absurd conspiracy theories.”
As a global crisis, COVID-19 shd be an area of cooperation between nations. Instead, the Communist Party of China has chosen to promulgate false & absurd conspiracy theories about the origin of COVID-19 blaming U.S. service members. #ChinaPropaganda https://t.co/gAkhEtlEfr
— Alyssa Farah (@PentagonPresSec) March 13, 2020
Whether or not Stephen Miller fits into this narrative is questionable, but any emphasis on terms like “foreign virus” has nothing to do with xenophobia and everything to do with messaging.
China wants to win the propaganda war on this one. Beijing’s communist leaders want the world to forget they lied about the seriousness of the crisis and were slow to invite supranational health organizations in, letting the virus gain more of a foothold
As for the ban on travel to Europe, it’s rather amazing that we’re suddenly xenophobic to Europeans. I thought that the white male patriarchy loved Europe. This is a new tack indeed. Say what you will about Trump’s Wednesday speech, calling the travel ban to Europe xenophobic is deeply problematic on a number of levels.
I’m not necessarily sure that Rivera is spreading Chinese propaganda. As for being an artist of a certain sort, the kind that includes the initials “b” and “s,” anyone who remembers Rivera’s escapades with Al Capone’s vault knows that’s always been true.
Whatever the case, we know who the real losers are here: The Fox censors. Hope they get away with just a write-up.
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