Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer joined Fox News anchor Bret Baier for an interview on Wednesday and proceeded to stumble and stutter his way through meandering responses that contradicted prior statements from himself, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other prominent Democrats.
Hoyer was unwilling to commit to the current party rhetoric — that border walls are “immoral” or “racist,” as many in his party have claimed. And pressed on whether or not walls were effective, Hoyer eventually admitted that “obviously,” walls work in “some places.”
On or off?
At the start of the interview, Hoyer was asked about Pelosi’s letter to President Donald Trump seeking to delay or cancel the State of the Union address scheduled for Jan. 29, ostensibly for security concerns during the partial government shutdown.
Despite having told CNN earlier in the day that the annual address to Congress was off, Hoyer told Baier, “No, it is not officially off.”
“Not an issue of morality”
Following a brief discussion on the shutdown, Baier focused in on the heart of the impasse — funding for border wall construction. He asked for Hoyer’s response to a few of the main complaints Democrats had offered up in opposition to a border wall, such as walls being racist, ineffective and immoral.
Baier played a clip of Pelosi calling border walls an “immorality,” then asked Hoyer if he agreed.
After first attempting to dodge the question, Hoyer replied, “Look, I don’t think this is an issue of morality, it’s an issue of ‘does it work.'”
He then shifted back into his prepared talking points suggesting even Republicans don’t think walls are effective, even as he agreed that “border security” is important and must be addressed.
“My own view is, this is not an issue of morality. A wall is immoral if it tries to imprison people who shouldn’t be imprisoned. A wall that protects people is not immoral. The issue is whether it works,” Hoyer said.
Baier then quoted Democratic Texas Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, who said border walls are a “racist reaction to a racist myth,” and asked Hoyer if he thought a border wall was racist. Hoyer replied, “I don’t talk in those terms and I don’t think that’s the way we ought to look at it.”
Hoyer then shifted once again to his talking points of “walls don’t work” while citing supposed Republicans who supposedly agree with that summation. Following that trope to its logical conclusion, Baier asked Hoyer if existing barriers on the border should be removed, if they don’t work.
“No,” Hoyer admitted.
“So they work in some places?” Baier pressed.
“Obviously, they work some places,” Hoyer replied.
“The debate ought to be not on morality or racism. I would say we are not pleased with some of the rhetoric that has come about dealing with those coming across the border, and we think some that rhetoric was, in fact, racist, we think some of that rhetoric was to inflame, and not based upon facts,” Hoyer said.