Anchor Stephanie Ruhle of MSNBC engaged in a little drive-by character assassination on Tuesday.
In a panel discussion that began about Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and the controversy surrounding his recent remarks on Western civilization, talk turned to speculation on why Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) had become so steadfast an ally of President Trump.
David Jolly, a former Republican congressman from Florida and never-Trumper who has left the GOP and said he voted for Democrat Andrew Gillum in the recent Florida gubernatorial election, set the stage.
“Before Don got elected, Lindsey Graham called Donald Trump a racist, xenophobic bigot. Those are Lindsey Graham’s words,” Jolly said. “I doubt Lindsey Graham could tell you Donald Trump has had a change of heart in the last 24 months. I bet the change of heart has been with Lindsey Graham, not the president.”
“Or it could be that Donald Trump or somebody knows something pretty extreme about Lindsey Graham,” she said. “We’re gonna have to leave it there.”
The left has been trying to exact revenge on Graham since he turned the tables on Democrats with his fiery speech in defense of Brett Kavanaugh at Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Ruhle’ comment appears based on others who have tried to smear the senator by attacking his sexuality.
Comedian Chelsea Handler tweeted last Oct. 11: “If you’re wondering why Republicans took a sick today, it’s probably because it’s #NationalComingOutDay. Looking at you @LindsayGrahamSC.”
Then, on Sunday, Jon Cooper, chairman of The Democratic Coalition, an anti-Trump PAC, claimed in a tweet he had inside information on Graham.
“A Republican just told me he doubts @LindsayGrahamSC is kowtowing to Trump (and indirectly Putin) because he’s being blackmailed over this sexual orientation (an open secret) or even financial corruption,” Cooper tweeted. “Rather, he thinks it probably involves some pretty serious sexual kink.”
On Tuesday, Cooper went there again with a tweet that appeared to be a teaser for an article at lgbtnation.com. It read: “Head of @TheDemCoalition was told Lindsey Graham is likely being blackmailed by Trump or Russia w/a “serious sexual kink. Jon Cooper, who is openly gay, says his concern about Graham has nothing do w/his sexual orientation but rather blackmail fear.”
Ruhle’s seemingly offhanded remark, launched at the end of the segment so it could not be challenged, may have seemed to come out of nowhere to some. But others connected it to Cooper’s tweets.
“Clearly, unambiguously, she is pimping Cooper’s ‘serious sexual kink’ blackmail story,” wrote RedState in MSNBC Host Claims Donald Trump is Blackmailing Lindsey Graham.”
Then, Thursday, a member of Congress got into the act. Newly elected Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who has made news for using Thomas Jefferson’s Quran for her swearing in, getting the House to waive its rule against religious headwear on the floor and for going back on campaign remarks and openly supporting a series of anti-Israel measures, got into the act.
His tweet read: “I can’t even imagine what they have on Graham. Senator Lindsey Graham in 2015: Donald Trump is a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot,” and it linked to a video of Graham saying those remarks in an interview.
Graham, 63, has never married and has no children, and he said in an interview last fall after Handler’s tweet that he is not gay.
Glenn Greenwald, who is gay and the editor of The Intercept, did not take to the attempted outing of Graham.
“This is repulsive, homophobic gutter trash from the Chairman of @TheDemCoalition – of the kind that has been historically used for the most nefarious smears. But it’s done with the right political ideology so it’s fine,” he tweeted.