Brian Williams Hints Trump, Pence Lying About Pandemic

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Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog

On Monday night, Fox News host Laura Ingraham demonstrated that the new network's conservative opinion hosts are a more accurate source of information than what some would call "straight news journalists" on liberal networks like MSNBC.

On the same night that MSNBC host "Lyin' Brian" Williams misleadingly hinted that President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had been lying about New York hospitals getting enough equipment to handle the pandemic, Fox's Ingraham presented facts to her viewers proving the President and Vice President were the ones telling the truth.

At 11:37 p.m., a segment on The 11th Hour with Brian Williams began with clips of President Trump and Vice President Pence from the day's news briefing in which they recalled that there were enough hospital beds and equipment for the influx of COVID-19 patients:

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP CLIP #1: Nobody's asking for ventilators. Nobody's asking for beds because we built hospitals.

PRESIDENT TRUMP CLIP #2: No one who has needed a ventilator has not gotten a ventilator.

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Our hospitals were not overwhelmed and are not overwhelmed at this hour.

As host Williams then appeared on screen, he had a facial expression of disapproval, and then set up the segment by recalling that New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof had visited hospitals in New York City with a video camera and then written about the experience.

After bringing Kristof on as a guest, Williams invited his guest to bash the administration as he posed: "Nick, I'm going to repeat the quote from Pence at the podium today: 'Our hospitals are not overwhelmed at this hour.' Square that with what you saw."

Although the intent of the segment was to suggest that Trump and Pence had been repeating falsehoods, as Kristof specifically took exception with Pence characterizing hospitals as being "not overwhelmed," no facts were presented that claimed any patient failed to get a bed or ventilator, which was the context in which Pence was arguing that hospitals had all the equipment they required -- not that there was not a large volume of patients or a stressful situation for medical staff.

At one point, Kristof recalled that some patients had to be transferred to other hospitals, but such activity would not be inconsistent with Trump's statement that extra hospitals were built to make room for more patients.

By contrast, on the same night's The Ingraham Angle, Ingraham played similar clips of Trump and Pence, and lauded them for being correct as she recalled that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had demanded much more equipment and beds than was actually needed. She even played a clip of him admitting he had enough ventilators and other equipment:

GOVERNOR CUOMO (from April 12): In Down State New York, we're in a position now where we're not going to need the ventilators. We're going to be okay equipmentwise unless things change dramatically.

Ingraham even played a clip of Dr. Anthony Fauci from February 29 arguing against Americans altering their lives at that point, which undermines claims by liberals that President Trump was ignoring advice at that time from key advisors about when to take precautions against a pandemic.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Monday, April 13, The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, and the same day's The Ingraham Angle on Fox News Channel:

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP CLIP #1: Nobody's asking for ventilators. Nobody's asking for beds because we built hospitals.

PRESIDENT TRUMP CLIP #2: No one who has needed a ventilator has not gotten a ventilator.

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Our hospitals were not overwhelmed and are not overwhelmed at this hour.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof put it best in his latest column, quote: "The best way to understand the coronavirus is not by tuning into White House briefings but by tuning into the distress on the front line."

That's exactly what he did. Kristof -- accompanied by video journalist Michael Kirby Smith -- granted rare access to the hot zones inside two hospitals in the Bronx.

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST (in pre-recorded audio): Death here has no dignity. Patients can't have visitors -- they're scared. They can't even see their nurse's eyes. I've reported on lots of deaths in my career, and this feels particularly brutal.

DR. NICOLE VAN VALLE: Someone codes -- someone dies -- you go on to the next patient. Someone codes -- someone dies -- you go on to the next patient. And you don't have time to process those emotions until you get home. I have cried at home just thinking about it all. When you get home, you finally take a breather, and that's when you let it all out because you don't have time to process those emotions here.

WILLIAMS (live): We're thankful to our friend, Nick Kristof, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the New York Times, for being back with us on the broadcast tonight. Nick, I'm going to repeat the quote from Pence at the podium today: "Our hospitals are not overwhelmed at this hour." Square that with what you saw.

KRISTOF: Well, Pence is right that there are some  hospitals that are not overwhelmed, but those hospitals that I visited are completely overwhelmed, and particularly the Jack Weiler Hospital in the Bronx. The emergency department had traffic jams and stretchers as you entered the hot zone. They were having to bus people out to other hosptials to make room.

There were some people who were seated because they didn't have stretchers available at that moment. And so the idea that that hospital was not overwhelmed when the staff themselves are heroic in trying to deal with these challenges is, you know, a complete misperception of what was going on.

(…)

LAURA INGRAHAM: Remember what we were hearing out of New York just a few weeks ago -- politicians who made enormously expensive requests from the federal government based on data that turned out to be false.

GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY) (dated March 27) CLIP #1: All the projections say you could have an apex needing 140,000 beds and about 40,000 ventilators.

GOVERNOR CUOMO CLIP #2: We're following the data and the science, and that's what the data and the science says.

INGRAHAM: Those claims were based on the faulty models of the Imperial College of London study. … We were told that the American hospital system was in danger of collapsing if we didn't flatten that curve. Well, the numbers weren't even close.

GOVERNOR CUOMO (from April 12): In Down State New York, we're in a position now where we're not going to need the ventilators. We're going to be okay equipmentwise unless things change dramatically.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP (from April 13): No one who has needed a ventilator has not gotten a ventilator. No one who has needed a hospital bed has been denied a hospital bed.

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Our hospitals were not overwhelmed and are not overwhelmed at this hour.

INGRAHAM: That is great news -- it's 100 percent correct. The IHME model from the University of Washington has the latest numbers and projections. Right now, there is zero shortage of ICU beds and zero shortage of vents. The projected need for ventilators on the peak day is 14,407 nationally. That's nationally. For ICU beds, well, guess what: -- the numbers just kill the estimates originally. And, by the way, another cost of this lame, panic-inducing models == it looks like we really didn't need the U.S.S. Mercy or the U.S.S. Comfort in New York or Los Angeles.

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