In a heated exchange on Sunday’s Meet the Press, host Chuck Todd immediately called out Republican Sen. Ron Johnson for raising a conspiracy theory that is continuously mentioned on Fox News. “I have no idea why a Fox News conspiracy propaganda stuff is popping up on here. I have no idea, I have no idea why we’re going here,” Todd said.
The combative exchange started when Todd asked about a Wall Street Journal report that quoted the Wisconsin senator as saying that he “winced” when the U.S. ambassador to the European Union told him that President Donald Trump had withheld military aid to Ukraine for political reasons. “At that suggestion, I winced. My reaction was: Oh, God. I don’t want to see those two things combined,” Johnson told the Journal. That aid and the contents of the now infamous July 25 phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is part of the House’s ongoing impeachment inquiry.
After Todd asked the senator, “What made you wince?” Johnson went into a full defense of the president while trying to avoid the question about his own words. Johnson’s agenda seemed clear, his appearance on Meet the Press was to muddy the waters by bashing the “biased” media as he began to read from notes while directing Todd to ask former CIA director John Brennan about a completely off topic conspiracy theory involving former FBI agent Peter Strzok. “What does this have to do with Ukraine?” Todd asked.
As Todd gave the rambling senator time to get back to the question, you could hear the host’s growing frustration when he finally interjected and stated, “I have no idea why a Fox News conspiracy propaganda stuff is popping up on here. I have no idea. I have no idea why we’re going here.”
As the senator continually spoke over Todd’s attempts to bring the conversation back to reality, the host then raised his voice and said, “Senator Johnson, please! Can we please answer the question that I asked you, instead of trying to make Donald Trump feel better here—that you’re not criticizing him.
“I’m just trying to ask a simple question of what made you wince?” Todd continued. “I’m asking a simple question about how you clearly were upset [that] there was an implication that military aid was being frozen because the president wanted an investigation. Why did you wince?”
Johnson went on to explain that he is satisfied with the president on the topic because Trump “completely denied it. He adamantly denied it. He vehemently, angrily denied it. He said, ‘I’d never do that.’”
Of late Todd has taken a stronger approach on matters concerning the president’s controversies. On Thursday, the host opened his show and put aside his propensity for going out his way to come across as unbiased and said, “I don’t say this lightly, but let’s be frank. A national nightmare is upon us. The basic rules of our democracy are under attack, from the president.”
Chuck Todd: "Let's be frank: a national nightmare is upon us. The basic rules of our democracy are under attack, from the President… This moment should arguably be a national emergency." pic.twitter.com/G5TLmzjc9E
— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) October 3, 2019
The Ukraine controversy seems to have been the tipping point for not only some Democrats in congress, who like Speaker Nancy Pelosi have endorsed the impeachment inquiry, but also for some in the media, like Todd, who is obviously taking a more aggressive approach with the president’s defenders.