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Fox News, CNN criticized for 'shameful' coverage of Army officer testifying in Trump impeachment inquiry
Two Fox News hosts and a CNN analyst are facing criticism from reporters and media pundits after suggesting — without evidence — that a decorated war veteran and a White House national security official could be a double-agent.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a member of the White House National Security Council who was on the July call President Donald Trump had with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, is on Capitol Hill Tuesday testifying as part of the House's impeachment inquiry.
According to his opening remarks, which were made public Monday evening, Vindman was expected to testify that he twice reported concerns about Trump's attempts to pressure Ukraine into publicly opening an investigation into the Bidens and the gas company Burisma, acting out of a "sense of duty."
"I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government's support of Ukraine," Vindman wrote in his opening statement.
But on Fox News and CNN, hosts and analysis supportive of Trump have pushed an unsupported narrative: That Vindman, a Ukrainian refugee who immigrated to the U.S. when he was a child might actually be a double-agent.
During her Fox News show Monday night, Laura Ingraham focused on a small part of a New York Times story that outlined Vindman's background as an immigrant, pointing out he speaks fluent Ukrainian and Russian but that in his discussions with Ukrainian officials, they "typically communicated in English."
"Here we have a U.S. national security official who is advising Ukraine, while working inside the White House, apparently against the President's interest, and usually, they spoke in English," Ingraham said to one of her guests John Yoo. "Isn't that kind of an interesting angle on this story?!"
"You know, some people might call that espionage," Yoo suggested.
VIDEO: Laura Ingraham and John Yoo discuss Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman youtu.be
The narrative also made it onto the network's popular morning show Fox & Friends, with co-host Brian Kilmeade noting that Vindman had "an affinity to the Ukrainian people" and that "he tends to feel simpatico with Ukraine."
New CNN analyst and former MTV Real World star Sean Duffy, a former Republican congressman from Wisconsin who has already drawn criticism during his brief tenure with the network, used almost identical language to describe Vindman during a spot on CNN's New Day Tuesday morning.
"I don't know that he's concerned about American policy, but his main mission was to make sure that the Ukraine got those weapons," Duffy said. "I understand that. We all have an affinity to our homeland where we came from."
VIDEO: CNN contributor Sean Duffy on Army Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman www.youtube.com
As the New York Times reported, Vindman is a scholar, diplomat, a decorated Army veteran awarded the Purple Heart, and a Harvard-educated Ukraine expert assigned by the Trump administration to serve on the National Security Council.
The focus on Vindman's heritage, coming from Trump supporters with the apparent intent of diminishing the Iraq war veteran's credibility as a witness, drew swift condemnation, including from at least one prominent Republican lawmaker.
Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the House Republican conference chair, said questioning Vindman's patriotism was "shameful."
"We need to show that we are better than that as a nation," Cheney told reporters during a Tuesday press conference.
CNN anchor and correspondent Jim Sciutto described the attack as "character assassination." CNN host S.E. Cupp called the comments "shameful." Al Jazeera English news anchor Richelle Carey said they were "reprehensible," while conservative columnist Charlie Sykes called it a "smear" of a decorated war veteran.
"As a reporter, I wonder is this really the line the Republicans are going to take, conservative critics of this impeachment inquiry, that someone who's an immigrant and has served this country is now a questionable person, without any kind of evidence to make this case?" Washington Post reporter Robert Costa asked on MSNBC Tuesday morning.
Neither Fox News nor CNN immediately responded to requests for comment.
On Twitter Tuesday morning, Trump baselessly described Vindman, who remains a member of the president's National Security Council, as a "Never Trumper."
©2019 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
The Air Force's top general says one of the designers of the ride-sharing app Uber is helping the branch build a new data-sharing network that the Air Force hopes will help service branches work together to detect and destroy targets.
The network, which the Air Force is calling the advanced battle management system (ABMS), would function a bit like the artificial intelligence construct Cortana from Halo, who identifies enemy ships and the nearest assets to destroy them at machine speed, so all the fleshy humans need to do is give a nod of approval before resuming their pipe-smoking.
An F-15 is rocking a WWII paint job to honor a B-17 pilot who gave his life to save a wounded crewman
An F-15C Eagle is sporting a badass World War II-era paint job in honor of a fallen bomber pilot who gave everything to ensure his men survived a deadly battle.
A U.S. E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node aircraft crashed on Monday on Afghanistan, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has confirmed.
Beloved basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven other people were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday. Two days earlier, Army Spc. Antonio I. Moore was killed during a vehicle rollover accident while conducting route clearing operations in Syria.
Which one more deserves your grief and mourning? According to Maj. Gen. John R. Evans, commander of the U.S. Army Cadet Command, you only have enough energy for one.
After 70 years, service members are finally filing medical malpractice claims against the US military
Jessica Purcell, a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, was pregnant with her first child when she noticed a swollen lymph node in her left underarm.
Health-care providers at a MacDill Air Force Base clinic told her it was likely an infection or something related to pregnancy hormones. The following year they determined the issue had resolved itself.
It hadn't. A doctor off base found a large mass in her underarm and gave her a shocking diagnosis: stage 2 breast cancer.
Purcell was pregnant again. Her daughter had just turned 1. She was 35. And she had no right to sue for malpractice.
A 1950 Supreme Court ruling known as the Feres doctrine prohibits military members like Purcell from filing a lawsuit against the federal government for any injuries suffered while on active duty. That includes injury in combat, but also rape and medical malpractice, such as missing a cancer diagnosis.
Thanks in part to Tampa lawyer Natalie Khawam, a provision in this year's national defense budget allows those in active duty to file medical malpractice claims against the government for the first time since the Feres case.
With the Department of Defense overseeing the new claims process, the question now is how fairly and timely complaints will be judged. And whether, in the long run, this new move will help growing efforts to overturn the ruling and allow active duty members to sue like everyone else.