Accuracy in Media

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CBS’s “This Morning” program recently interviewed the counsel for President Donald Trump, Jay Sekulow, and attempted to ask Sekulow about the Ukraine-Biden-Trump news cycle. However, the program did not account for multiple legal matters for their interview and in their line of questioning and the interviewer’s combative conduct did not paint CBS News in a favorable light.

The news cycle is focused on the news that a whistleblower complained about Trump “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in a 2020 election” in a phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. The complaint was published with some redactions by the House Intelligence Committee and the phone call was also released, unredacted, to the public. The phone call took place this past July. The phone call mentioned the Biden family’s business dealings in Ukraine and the potential of a Ukrainian government investigation into the Biden family. Joe Biden, a former vice president, is currently running in the 2020 Democratic Party primary to challenge Trump for the presidency in 2020.

The interview was combative from the start when CBS News asked Sekulow whether the phone call in question was problematic. Specifically, that a politically-related phone call was moved to an intelligence server, which the media believed to be a violation of rules within the intelligence community. Sekulow countered and noted that he could not discuss White House specifics because he is not the White House counsel and serves as the president’s personal counsel.

Sekulow told CBS News, “I’m not the White House counsel, I’m the president’s counsel and that’s a different role so I’m not involved in how the White House internally handles documents.” Sekulow was interrupted by the interviewer and said he could not go into details because it is protected by lawyer-client privilege.

He then told CBS News that the whistleblower has no credible information about the phone call in question. Again, CBS News interrupted Sekulow to ask another question even though Sekulow asked if he could finish making his point.

When CBS News confirmed that the whistleblower complaint was “secondhand” information, Sekulow reiterated that secondhand information is not admissible in “U.S. district court in the middle of Georgia,” inferring that it is not reliable information to make a judgment on.

The interview featured multiple interruptions, back-and-forth rebuttals from both sides, and left the viewer confused as to why CBS News acted antagonistic towards Trump’s counsel. CBS News ran into lawyer-client privilege and other legal matters in the course of their interview of Trump counsel Jay Sekulow, which called into question whether CBS News was prepared to be reminded about lawyer-client privilege and how Sekulow would not have access to internal White House matters (which is reserved for the White House counsel). The interview fell flat because it exposed the antagonism of the likes of CBS News against Trump affiliates like Sekulow and how the network is allegedly biased against those in the Trump administration or are affiliated with it.

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