The whistleblower complaint alleging improper communications by President Donald Trump with the Ukrainian government has now been declassified and released to the public, and right-wing media figures are working desperately to downplay its impact.
On September 26, the whistleblower complaint alleging that Trump tried to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden was made available to the public. The complaint was filed on August 12 and details that the whistleblower “received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.” The complaint also alleges that Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani is a “central figure in this effort,” and that Attorney General William Barr “appears to be involved as well.”
Right-wing media have latched on to the assertion that the complaint is based on “hearsay” and therefore not credible because the whistleblower did not witness related events firsthand, even though the complaint referenced “more than half a dozen U.S. officials” who acted as witnesses to “various facts related to this effort.” The whistleblower also admitted that while they were “not a direct witness to most of the event described,” they found “accounts of these events to be credible because, in almost all cases, multiple officials recounted fact patterns that were consistent with one another.” The whistleblower also referenced media reports on the topic, asserting in the complaint that “a variety of information consistent with these private accounts has been reported publicly.”
While acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire acknowledged in the September 26 House Intelligence Committee hearing that the complaint is based at least in part on “hearsay,” this does not disprove the events it describes.
In addition to this attempt to discredit the complaint, right-wing media are insisting that the whistleblower is not credible because they hold political bias against Trump; this claim originates from reports that the intelligence community’s inspector general found that the whistleblower had “arguable political bias” but the complaint was still credible. Right-wing media are also claiming that the complaint is just another “deep state” effort to destroy Trump and that impeachment will ultimately help Trump and backfire on Democrats.
Fox contributor Jason Chaffetz: “Let's remember, this whistleblower report is purely hearsay. Purely hearsay. There is no firsthand account here. … The DNI evidently did not find that it was an urgent concern and that the whistleblower had a lot of political bias.”
Fox News anchor Bret Baier: “And the challenge here as you read this is that, you know, that you will be reading it as if it's the Bible, not knowing that -- what the motivations are, not knowing the credibility of these people. And there is no pushback on the other side as far as questioning this anonymous person.”
Fox News contributor and Federalist senior editor Mollie Hemingway insisted multiple times that the complaint is an effort by the mainstream media and Democrats to destroy Trump, comparing it to the Mueller report.
Fox News host Pete Hegseth stated that he disapproves of whistleblowers in general because “one man’s whistleblower is another man’s political leaker who has an agenda … based on hearsay.”
Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade: “I think it is important to point out there is belief the whistleblower has a political bias. And that’s part of the reason why some have said that it didn't come forward because -- and if you look at the attorney who has already donated to Joe Biden’s campaign, I think people think that there is a inherent bias there.”
Fox chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge: “From what I’m reading here, this is a very kind of, say, fact-driven, neutral document but again, when you look to the end -- when you look to the end, and I think this is going to be important, it draws very heavily on what people in the [intelligence community] call open-source reporting. So media reports to connect the dots to justify their case. They're citing reporting by The Hill about the -- give me just one second here. Looks like it’s the Biden situation. And then there are other media reports as well. Yeah, publicly reported, I think there may be The New York Times here. Yes, New York Times is also cited here, a May 9 article about Giuliani's plane travel to the Ukraine to pursue these investigations.”
Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo claimed the whistleblower is “using a lot of hearsay and conversation from others.” Her guest Steve Forbes agreed that the complaint is “based on hearsay” and said Pelosi is a “disgrace” for opening an impeachment inquiry.
Fox radio host Clay Travis claimed the complaint amounts to a “conspiracy theory.”
Right-wing outlet Breitbart wrote that the complaint is “entirely hearsay” and “distorts [the] Ukraine transcript.”
The Federalist’s Sean Davis wrote that the “complaint from [the] so-called ‘whistleblower’ is riddled with gossip, blatant falsehoods.”
Trump 2020 campaign adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle insisted that “Donald Trump is the president of the US, & the Dems appear bound & determined to ensure that he remains in that position for another 4 yrs.”
Subreddit "r/The_Donald" complained that “all of the mouthpieces” discussing the whistleblower complaint “based on hearsay about a phonecall that we have the transcript of” is “more damning than the actual phonecall.”