One of the more frightening movements in conservative circles is their concerted efforts to demean factual news reporting. This is has been happening for decades now, and it began long before Donald Trump ever ran for president—the first time. Trump’s ascendency to one of our land’s highest offices is the result of his very blunt use of all the right-wing talking points of the last many decades. As with most fascistic thinking, any dissent (or criticism that is deemed “dissent”), the right-wing thinking goes, should be squashed.
Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana knows all about saying and doing anything to get and retain power. Kennedy was wooed by Karl Rove and the Republican Party back in 2007 to leave his Democratic Party loyalties behind so that he could become a senator from Louisiana. Being wooed by the devil has its consequences, like losing any and all moral and legal compass. Kennedy appeared with CNN’s Jim Sciutto to talk about issues such as Trump’s declaration of emergency and the legality of Trump’s many executive actions.
Sciutto: Let me ask you on another exercise of presidential power. The New Yorker is reporting this morning that the president ordered the Department of Justice to attempt to block the merger between AT&T and Time Warner over the objections of his chief of staff then, John Kelly, but also his chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn. In . your view, is that an acceptable use of presidential power, a president trying to block a merger because he doesn't like the coverage by a news station, this one, owned by one of the companies involved?
That’s a softball question. I think my 4-year-old could answer this one without saying “Poop” and giggling uncontrollably. Sen. Kennedy begins his answer exactly the way he’s supposed to, by suggesting the story is fake news.
Kennedy: Well, number one, I don't know if it's true. I think the report, yet again, was based on anonymous sources.
Fair enough. We all know that all news outlets not owned by right-wing billionaires are “fake news.” But Kennedy turned it up a notch by sort of losing his way once he realized he had said “number one” and would need at least a “number b” to follow that thought up with.
Kennedy: Number two, I think it's perfectly acceptable for the president of the United States to have an opinion.
Sciutto: To block a merger? To block a merger, to punish what he considers a critic?
[“Poop!” and giggles.]
This is the tough thing about right-wing talking point media training. You are coached to answer the question by a) questioning the validity of the question and the information in that question, b) then explaining how even if the question is valid and the information is true it doesn’t really matter because of c) something you make up based on half a fact. Kennedy resets, but not without being clearly flustered as he tries to see if he does indeed believe in fascism. It’s an interesting thing to watch, because he isn’t actually sure if the logic he hastily worked out while staring at the brass nameplate in his Senate office is flawed.
Kennedy: I don't think that it's been established. I know it's been alleged that that was what his mental perspective was at the time. And I think it's all anonymous sources. I don't know what the president thought.
Another important note here: Kennedy, after implying that it’s okay for Trump to wield his executive power against the media, begins blinking like crazy. Maybe it’s a lying thing? Maybe it’s simply a stress issue? Maybe he’s flustered and stressed because he can’t remember which lie he’s supposed to be telling? All he knows is that he’s not supposed to say the words “That would be illegal,” or “That would be highly disturbing if true.” Scuitto lets him off by refeeding him his own talking point that he doesn’t trust the story.
Kennedy: I don't think that's a fair question because they haven't been proven that he did it. I mean, if any public official committed murder, would I think that's wrong if he committed murder? Yeah. He'd be a murderer.
Perfect. In trying not to say that Trump maybe-possibly-hypothetically broke the law or abused his powers in office, Kennedy stumbles into equating Trump’s alleged behavior as president of the United States with murder.
Watch someone blinking like he is freaking out below.