Today’s interview of Senator James Lankford (R-OK) illustrates the very reason why the late, great Rush Limbaugh coined the term “drive-by media”. CBS Face the Nation moderator Margaret Brennan attempted to pull a fast one and manufacture a quote from Sen. Lankford that he never uttered.
Watch as Brennan tries to wrap “Trump doesn’t know what he’s talking about” within a paraphrased quote of Lankford’s response to statements critical of the Senate-White House border deal by former President Donald Trump:
MARGARET BRENNAN: Can you get this (border deal) passed without Donald Trump’s approval?
SEN. JAMES LANKFORD: I’m looking forward to President Trump having the opportunity to be able to read it like everybody else is. There’s a lot of misinformation out there right now that- that I hear this comment that it waves in 5,000 people, it hands out work permits. All those things are not true. There’s just a lot of internet rumors that are running around on this right now. We’re looking forward to getting the information out. Now I can say there is no question, no matter what your political persuasion is, we would not have had the immigration crisis we’re experiencing right now if President Trump would have been president the last three years. There’s no way we would’ve had 8 million people illegally cross our border because you would enforce those different authorities, and would have made sure that we actually secure our border. But even while he was president, he was specifically asking Congress to change the standard on asylum to be able to tighten up, to give additional funds for deportation. All of those things are in this bill. So if he were to be president, this would be new authorities that he had actually asked for when he was president before.
BRENNAN: Right. And I just want — you just said that he has not read this bill. He doesn’t essentially know what he’s talking about. Um. So this deal —
LANKFORD: I’m not saying that. I’m saying there’s just a lot of rumors out there about the bill and I want to make sure that everyone has a chance to read it before they make a final judgment.
Lankford got sprayed with multiple drive-by passes throughout this interview, wherein he made his best effort to promote the border bill he’s been working on, along with Senators Kirsten Sinema (I-AZ) and Chris Murphy (D-CT).
The interview started cleanly enough, with questions on whether there’s been a vote count, on balancing asylum versus the power to shut the border down, and on parole- which the Biden administration has abused throughout this border disaster.
After an appeal to authority (The Wall Street Journal’s editorial in support of the deal), Margaret plays video of President Trump slamming the deal and elicits a response from Lankford, which we saw in the video above.
It is at that point that Brennan tries to pull a fast one on Lankford by fabricating a critical quote of Trump. This item’s thumbnail image is Brennan’s Cheshire Cat half-grin when Lankford catches her and corrects the record.
Once caught and corrected, Brennan proceeds to question whether Lankford trusts Trump with the authorities contained in the bill, badgers him about endorsement, about the defamation verdict, and closes out with the Colorado ballot case now before the Supreme Court.
It is precisely this kind of journalisming, the chase of a gotcha moment as opposed to fact-based dialogue intended to illuminate the public’s understanding on any given issue, that erodes the public trust and can only accelerate the institutional decline of the media. Something, perhaps, to keep in mind fresh off of what was considered to be a brutal week for the media as a whole.