While Fox News has always been home to a particularly conservative brand of news, under the Trump administration Fox & Friends has essentially become a mouthpiece for the president. The contrast between two Kellyanne Conway interviews Monday — one with Fox & Friends and one with Good Morning America — made that clear.
The interviews came as the White House grappled with the news that the president’s son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, and former campaign manager Paul Manafort met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer during the campaign after being promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
On Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade outlined the meeting and emphasized that Trump Jr. was looking to “find out more information” on an alleged “source” claiming, oddly enough, DNC collaboration with the Russians. Kilmeade then asked Conway just one question: “Do you have anything to add from the White House perspective?”
Conway responded with an 88-second monologue in which she emphasized that there was “no helpful information” given in the meeting and that there was “no follow-up” by the Trump campaign, as if that exonerated the initial meeting. Then another co-host, Ainsley Earhardt, chimed in: “Something else we do know. Hillary Clinton provided 20 percent of the uranium to the Russians.”
That was it.
In Conway’s later interview with George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America, on the other hand, she was asked a series of questions about why the story had changed, who was aware of the meeting, and whether such actions on the part of Trump Jr. were “attempted collusion.”
The GMA interview, which lasted almost three times as along as the Fox & Friends interview, forced Conway to mention that Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner had amended their disclosure forms to include the meeting. She didn’t explain why the stories changed or if their actions were inappropriate. Still, at least she was asked the question.
The contrast is the latest example of how Fox & Friends has become the unofficial mouthpiece of the Trump administration: the president, first lady, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Conway have all given interviews in recent months. Conway’s ability to dodge questions is well documented, but she only has to do so when someone actually questions what has happened.
Read the full transcripts below of both the Fox & Friends and GMA interviews:
Fox & Friends
BRIAN KILMEADE: You mentioned Don Jr. That whole story with the New York Times over the last two days. He’s addressed it directly, said the meeting did happen. He said one of the reasons it happened is they heard the DNC was collaborating with a Russian source and he wanted to find out more information on it. It turned out to be a head fake. Do you have anything to add from the White House perspective?
CONWAY: Don has said very clearly that the meeting was taken. He didn't know the name of the person who was coming. He certainly knew the person who set it up. It was somebody he had known through the Miss Universe pageant that the Trump family, I guess, Mr. Trump had owned and managed for a while. Fine.
He goes into the meeting. He says it was vague. It was ambiguous. It was very obvious almost immediately that there was no helpful or meaningful information. And that the meeting quickly turned over to the matter of Russian adoption, which is probably the pretext from for the entire meeting from the very beginning. No information was gained. No action was taken. No follow-up whatsoever.
I think what's important here is that we're at day 200 or so of no evidence of Russian collusion. People think — they want to convert wishful thinking into hard evidence. What we do know that actually happened is not Russian collusion but Russian conversation between President Putin and President Trump three short days ago.
And that was a very productive conversation in that you had the mainstream media screaming and insisting before that meeting that President Trump would not even raise the specter of Russian interference in our election, and, instead, President Trump raised it as the first order of business and reportedly kept pressing President Putin on it, and also talked about very important things like the ceasefire in Syria, which was successfully negotiated as part of this meeting, and infrastructure and national security and a nuclear-capable world. Yes.
AINSLEY EARHARDT: Something else we do know. Hillary Clinton provided 20 percent of the uranium to the Russians. Let's move on.
CONWAY: And Bill Clinton, her husband, got half a million dollars in a speech in, drum roll please, Russia!
Good Morning America
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, Tom, thanks. Let's take it to counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway. Kellyanne, thanks for joining us this morning. We just showed some of those denials from the president, from the vice president, Don Jr., about any contacts. Back in December, you also denied any contacts between the campaign and Russians. I want to show our audience.
[from previous clip]
CONWAY: Absolutely not, and I discussed that with the president-elect just last night. Those conversations never happened. I hear people saying it like it's a fact on television. That is just not only inaccurate and false but it's dangerous.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Does the president-elect —
CONWAY: And it does undermine our democracy.
[previous clip ends]
STEPHANOPOULOS: It did turn out to be a fact. So who misled you, and why did Don Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort allow those public denials to stand for so many months?
CONWAY: So as I understand it, George, at — some of the disclosure forms have been amended since that time to reflect other meetings, including this one. I think that Tom Llamas, your colleague, put it best. He said that these were vague and ambiguous statements, that Don Jr. was not aware of the lawyer's name before he got there, and that the conversation quickly changed to what seemed to be the entire purpose of the meeting for that woman, which was Russian adoption. No information was received that was meaningful or helpful, and no action was taken. No follow-up whatsoever.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Kellyanne, by his own admission, he sought the meeting. He agreed to the meeting because she was promising damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Isn't that at minimum an attempt at collusion?
CONWAY: No, and your colleague, Cecilia Vega, even said yesterday, as other responsible people have said — including members of the Obama administration under oath — there's no evidence of collusion. We're talking about collusion that doesn't exist.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Kellyanne, actually I have to stop you right there because, Kellyanne, because that is not what Cecilia Vega said. Cecilia Vega was asked about that yesterday morning. That was before Don Jr. admitted that he sought the meeting to get damaging information on Hillary Clinton. That was when Don Jr.’s statement was simply that this was a meeting about adoption. That changed in the previous hours when he changed his story.
CONWAY: Are you saying there's evidence of collusion because everybody is trying to convert wishful thinking into hard evidence and they haven't been able to do that. Let me get back to what you asked me about this meeting. I don't think you had to go very far, respectfully, to find damaging information or negative information about Hillary Clinton. She was a gusher at all times of negative, damaging information. Your own polling showed that a majority of the country doesn't — didn't trust her at the time. She had no honesty and integrity. I didn't have to look far as the campaign manager starting the next month to find damaging information. We would just quote her. People admit now she lit $1.2 billion on fire. She had no message that connected to America the way Donald Trump did.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Kellyanne —
CONWAY: So there's no evidence of collusion.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You're changing the subject here. Let's go back to the original question.
CONWAY: No, I'm not. This is the subject. Is there collusion? Yes or no.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Number one, why did the administration allow these denials to stand for so many months?
CONWAY: The people involved in the meeting could answer those questions better for you, but as I understand it, George, people's disclosure statements have been amended to reflect meetings such as this. And Don Jr. came forth this weekend and gave more information about the meeting. He also made very clear —
STEPHANOPOULOS: After denying it.
CONWAY: That no information that was meaningful and helpful was gained from this. We have many different meetings in a campaign. Some of them are unhelpful and not particularly meaningful. I'm sure you can relate to that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Kellyanne, that's beside the point. He was seeking the information. He was seeking the damaging information. That's why he had the meeting. How is that appropriate?
CONWAY: George, he was told that there would be information that may be helpful to the campaign. There was no such information. But, again, I want to ask you a question. If we're going to keep using the word collusion, where is the evidence of collusion? What just happened last week is that you had — Putin and Trump had a conversation. That's meaningful. They brokered a ceasefire in part of Syria. They talked about cybersecurity. The first order of business for President Trump that he pressed Putin on was interference in the election, uh, meddling in the election. Exactly what many in the media said would never happen, the president made the top priority and reportedly pressed him several times so -- the conversation is real. The collusion is not.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We know from Don Jr.’s own admission that he sought the meeting with the Russian because she would provide damaging information with Hillary Clinton. How can you say that is not at least an attempt at working with the Russians to hurt the Clinton campaign to help the Trump campaign?
CONWAY: Two quick things. He did not seek the meeting. If you look at his statement, he said the meeting was requested of him and he agreed to the meeting. That's different than —
STEPHANOPOULOS: Because she was going to give damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
CONWAY: He didn't even know her name, George. He had no idea who this person was until she entered the room. He said that also in his statement.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He believed that she was bringing damaging information about Hillary Clinton. That's why he agreed to the meeting, by his own admission.
CONWAY: And the point is she didn't have it. She didn’t have it. Look, the only information — the only people who had information about Russia meddling in, say ... summer of 2016 — did not work in the Trump campaign, they worked in the Obama white house. They were briefed according to the Washington Post about this kind of information and did absolutely nothing because they never thought Donald Trump would win. Number two, no meaningful information was received, no action was taken. When I became campaign manager, nobody said, “Oh, we have to turn over this file to you, this fabulous” — there's nothing like that. We were talking to people in Michigan, not Moscow, and I think it's important for people to know that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Kellyanne, we have to go. The information was sought from the campaign, and those denials were allowed to stand for many months. That's the bottom line. Thanks very much for your time.
CONWAY: Look, I wasn't in the meeting. I wasn't in the meeting, but people amended their disclosure forms, and I think the big bombshell this morning is Jim Comey disclosing confidential information, conversations he had with the president of the United States in his “private memos.” That's something Americans should really focus on.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Kellyanne Conway, thanks very much.