A lengthy interview between Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) and NBC’s Chuck Todd was nothing if not heated as shots were exchanged by both including accusations of a “complete smear job” and of seeking shelter in a “partisan cable cocoon.”
Johnson’s accusation that Todd invited him on “Meet The Press” Sunday not to interview him but “to argue” at least appeared to have merit as the two remained at odds throughout a nearly 13-minute exchange. Later in the back and forth, the host pivoted hard into liberal red meat as he broached the subject of the 2020 presidential election and attempted to accuse the senator of playing an integral role in trying to deliver a different outcome.
Todd painted a picture of behind-the-scenes communications between then-President Donald Trump’s team and the senators attempting to facilitate providing alternative electors to then-Vice President Mike Pence who would preside over the certification. Johnson immediately disabused the host of that narrative and corrected, “I had no idea what I was being contacted to deliver and we never delivered it.”
“There never was a story there and everything I’ve already said about that has proven to be true even though the media lied about it,” he continued before noting, “you started this questioning falsely. You falsely accused me of getting those–and I never took possession. I never had them, OK?”
“So, again, this has been a complete smear job against me,” Johnson leveled.
Unrelenting on his point, Todd persisted, nonetheless, and insisted, “You dabbled in so much of this. Do you understand why somebody might have thought you were willing to go along with the scheme?”
“I did not dabble in very much of this,” the Wisconsin lawmaker replied. “It’s just false.”
“‘Very much,'” Todd suggested, “is doing a lot of work there.”
At this point, the host’s efforts to shift from civil discussion to partisan volleys was well underway as repeated mention of the potential wrongdoing of President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, resulted in his asking, “Senator, do you have a crime that you think Hunter Biden committed? Because I’ve yet to see anybody explain–it is not a crime to make money off of your last name.”
“Chuck, you ought to read the Marco Polo report where they detail all kinds of potential crimes,” Johnson answered, directing Todd to the 634-page report produced by a former White House staffer that alleged 459 crimes that included “prostitution offenses, distribution and possession of drugs, defrauding government agencies, illegal foreign lobbying and money laundering.”
“Let me stop you there…Potential is innuendo,” the host tried to deflect. “That’s why you do investigation!”
Seeing through the effort to diminish, the senator pressed on, “Chuck, is it a crime to be soliciting and purchasing prostitution in potentially European sex trafficking operations? Is that a crime? Because [Iowa Sen.] Chuck Grassley and I laid out about $30,000 paid by Hunter Biden to those types of individuals over December of 2018, 2019; about $30,000. That’s about the same time that President Biden offered to pay about $100,000 of Hunter Biden’s bills. I mean, again, that’s just some information. I don’t know exactly if it’s a crime. It sounds sleazy as you know what.”
Naturally, this led Todd to whataboutism as he leveled accusations of impropriety on the part of Trump’s son-in-law and administration adviser Jared Kushner, “It seems to me if you’re concerned about what Hunter Biden did, you should be equally outraged about what Jared Kushner did.”
“I’m concerned about getting to the truth,” Johnson said matter-of-factly. “I don’t target individuals.”
“You don’t? You’re targeting Hunter Biden multiple times on this show, Senator. You’re targeting an individual,” Todd leveled in return, despite his being responsible for opening the specific line of questioning.
“Chuck, you know, part of the problem–and this is pretty obvious to anybody watching this–is you don’t invite me on to interview me,” Johnson cut. “You invite me on to argue with me. You know, I’m just trying to lay out the facts that certainly Sen. Grassley and I uncovered; they were suppressed; they were censored.”
“They interfered in the 2020 election,” he continued. “Conservatives understand that. Unfortunately, liberals in the media don’t. And that’s…part of the reason our politics are inflamed is we do not have an unbiased media. We don’t. It’s unfortunate…Primarily it occurs from the left.”
“Look,” Todd contended when there was still ample time left in the interview, “you can go back on your partisan cable cocoon and talk about media bias all you want! I understand it’s part of your identity.”
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