On Sunday, former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign sent a letter to TV news executives and hosts, urging them not to book President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on their programs. At the very least, the Biden team asked that a Biden surrogate also be given equal air time if the former New York mayor is not blacklisted. This demand to control how the media reports the story seems eerily similar to the measures Barack Obama took to control the media.
“We are writing today with grave concern that you continue to book Rudy Giuliani on your air to spread false, debunked conspiracy theories on behalf of Donald Trump,” Anita Dunn and Kate Bedingfield wrote in the letter, first reported by the Daily Beast. “While you often fact check his statements in real time during your discussions, that is no longer enough. By giving him your air time, you are allowing him to introduce increasingly unhinged, unfounded and desperate lies into the national conversation.”
“We write to demand that in service to the facts, you no longer book Rudy Giuliani, a surrogate for Donald Trump who has demonstrated that he will knowingly and willingly lie in order to advance his own narrative,” the Biden aides continued. “Giuliani is not a public official, and holds no public office that would entitle him to opine on the nation’s airwaves.”
The letter further demands that if Giuliani is put on the airwaves, “an equivalent amount of time” must be given “to a surrogate for the Biden campaign.”
Politico‘s Michael Calderone noted that the letter was sent to “executives and hosts at ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News.”
Letter went out to executives and hosts at ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News.
— Michael Calderone (@mlcalderone) September 29, 2019
Giuliani told The Daily Beast that the letter “sounds like the usual left wing censorship. Everything I say is supported by such as today, affidavits and statements. They are the ones who have covered up pay for play for at least 5 years.”
The conflict traces back to the infamous July 25 call during which Trump asked Ukraine’s current president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to help Giuliani investigate potential corruption surrounding Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son. While Biden was the Obama administration’s point person on Ukraine, Hunter Biden received a lucrative position on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings. In 2016, Biden pressured Ukraine’s then-President Petro Poroshenko to fire prosecutor Viktor Shokin, who was investigating Burisma.
Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry centered on the call, claiming that Trump was pressuring a foreign government to intervene in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, since Biden was the Democratic frontrunner in that election at the time. The official Biden line is that Biden pressured Poroshenko to fire Shokin due to Shokin’s refusal to investigate corruption, therefore Trump’s request to Zelensky could only have been political.
Yet Giuliani has pushed back against this narrative, citing Shokin’s official testimony.
“The Bidens are doing all they can to silence me. This is why!” Giuliani tweeted Sunday evening. In this tweet, the former mayor included video of his recent ABC News appearance, during which he quoted from Viktor Shokin, the Ukraine prosecutor whom Joe Biden pressured Ukraine’s president to fire. Shokin testified under oath, “The truth is, I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into Burisma Holdings and Joe Biden’s son.”
The Bidens are doing all they can to silence me, this is why! pic.twitter.com/Qp1MOgKNuD
— Rudy W. Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) September 30, 2019
As news of the Biden campaign’s attempt to get Giuliani blacklisted broke, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, countered by pointing to the fake quotes Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) read on national television.
“Can we request the removal of Democrats on TV that push hoaxes? Wait, but then who would do the interviews?” Parscale quipped.
Can we request the removal of Democrats on TV that push hoaxes? Wait, but then who would do the interviews?https://t.co/tnAdY3iZTq
— Brad Parscale – Text TRUMP to 88022 (@parscale) September 29, 2019
Parscale was alluding to Schiff’s remarks at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Thursday, during which the congressman put words in the president’s mouth. Even though the transcript of Trump’s July 25 call had already been released, Schiff presented fake quotes to present the call in the worst possible light.
“This is the essence of what the president communicates: We’ve been very good to your country, very good. No other country has done as much as we have. But you know what? I don’t see much reciprocity here. I hear what you want, I have a favor I want from you, though. And I’m going to say this only seven times, so you better listen good,” Schiff began.
“I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand, lots of it, on this and on that. I’m going to put you in touch with people, not just any people, I’m going to put you in touch with the attorney general of the United States, my attorney general, Bill Barr,” Schiff continued, supposedly not acting as if he were quoting the president. “And I’m going to put you in touch with Rudy, you’re going to love him, trust me. … And by the way, don’t call me again. I’ll call you when you’ve done what I asked.”
The legacy media almost entirely ignored Schiff’s fake quotes stunt, and NPR and PBS couldn’t be bothered to ask Schiff about it when they interviewed him.
Which seems more plausible: That Hunter Biden’s cushy job with Burisma and Shokin’s firing was on the up and up and that there was no corruption involved, or that the Biden team is scared of Giuliani’s evidence to the contrary? I’m not always a fan of Rudy Giuliani, but he may have a point here.
By the way, in making this demand, Biden’s team echoed the attacks on the press that took place under Barack Obama’s administration. As PJ Media’s Matt Margolis reported, early in Obama’s second term, the FCC proposed a new program that would have put FCC agents in media newsrooms “to determine how stories were selected, whether there was bias in reporting,” and whether “critical information needs” were being met.
The Biden campaign’s demand that the media blacklist Rudy Giuliani seems eerily similar, even though it does not involve using the apparatus of government to control the media.
Obama also gave far more interviews to local media outlets, seemingly so that he could control the terms of an interview. One of Obama’s senior White House officials threatened journalists for their negative coverage, and Obama’s Department of Justice tracked and tried to jail journalists like Fox News’s James Rosen.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.