Now that Donald Trump has signaled he wants to let bygones be bygones over Russia's interference in our election, so does Fox News.
Although Donald Trump wanted to make a big show of confronting Russia about its meddling, it's pretty clear that in reality he gave Russian President Vladimir Putin smoochies on the subject during their meeting today on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.
Yesterday, Trump gave verbal gifts to Putin with un-presidential attacks on Americans and American institutions while on foreign soil. He followed up with this pre-meeting gift to Putin today:
Trump's lack of concern for Russia's subversiveness - or maybe his bigger desire to suck up to Putin - came through loud and clear in Secretary of State (and Putin BFF) Rex Tillerson's briefing after the meeting. The Washington Post's Aaron Blake saw through Tillerson's claim that Trump "pressed President Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement."
But then Tillerson said repeatedly that the meeting was about the future and not the past. “But I think what the two presidents — I think rightly — focused on is how we move forward,” he said. Later, he would add that Putin's contention that Russian didn't hack represented an “intractable disagreement” and said, “There was not a lot of re-litigating things from the past.”
That sure doesn't sound like a ton of pressing. Indeed, it kind of sounds like Trump did bring it up, Putin denied it, and then they largely “moved forward” without “re-litigating” the past. Tillerson's comments sure seem to be accepting of the fact that there was no progress on that front.
Even worse, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Trump dissed America directly to Putin during the meeting by saying that some U.S. circles are "exaggerating" the meddling:
But over at Fox News, Tillerson's spin served as marching orders! Here's the lede from their article on the Trump/Putin meeting:
President Trump pressed Russia’s Vladimir Putin on U.S. election meddling while also making headway on the Syria crisis during their first formal meeting on Friday, according to administration officials who offered details on the highly anticipated sit-down in Germany which lasted more than two hours.
FoxNews.com further did its part in the play-acting by cherry-picking Trump's comments about Russia to suggest he was sending only tough-on-Putin signals:
The Trump-Putin summit came amid shifting Trump rhetoric, as the president has begun taking a harder line with Russia. Trump was complimentary of Putin as recently as the October presidential debates, and during the election he often said he hoped the U.S. and Russia could improve relations.
But since assuming office Trump's optimism has waned, and he's criticized Russia for its unflinching support of Syrian leader Assad, even as he used chemical weapons. The U.S. also incurred Russian ire by agreeing to sell patriot missiles to Poland, and in a highly praised speech in Warsaw on Thursday, Trump specifically called out Russia for its subversive activities worldwide.
"We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes including Syria and Iran, and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and the defense of civilization itself," Trump said.
No mention of that Tweet about Podesta, nor Trump's refusal to say that he "definitively" believes the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. And definitely no mention of Lavrov's comment!
But Fox, ever on the lookout for ways to demonize dissent, inserted a bold headline linking to another story that said, "TRUMP CHIDES RUSSIA AHEAD OF PUTIN MEETING, THOUGH NOT ENOUGH FOR DEM CRITICS."
Below is a screen grab from the FoxNews.com homepage that drives a similar message:
(Updated to include Lavrov's comment.)
Crossposted at News Hounds.