Appeasing ABC Lobs Softballs to Sullivan, Asks About U.S. ‘Concessions’ to Russia

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On Monday, President Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan appeared on all three network morning shows to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. However, while NBC and CBS actually pressed the White House official on whether the administration’s response to Russian aggression was strong enough, ABC’s Good Morning America took the opposite approach by lobbing softballs and even suggesting the U.S. should appease Vladimir Putin with “concessions.”

“There have been reports of a possible meeting with Putin and President Biden. How likely is that to happen?,” GMA co-host and former NFL player Michael Strahan asked Sullivan during an interview early in the 7:00 a.m. ET hour. Following up on the possibility of a Biden-Putin summit, Strahan wondered what the U.S. was ready to give the Russian dictator: “So if there is – if an agreement is likely, what would it look like? Are there concessions that the U.S., NATO, along with Ukraine, could make to Russia to avoid war?”

In contrast to that easy exchange, on NBC’s Today show, fill-in co-host Sheinelle Jones was skeptical of Biden meeting with Putin: “Could this summit seriously force President Putin to back down or are we just delaying the inevitable?” Fellow substitute host Tom Llamas actually cited criticism from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that the White House wasn’t doing enough:

Jake, over the weekend, Ukraine’s president called out the U.S., and really the world, for not announcing sanctions, right? Not going public with the sanctions, saying that by the time they invade it’s gonna be too late. His quote was, “We don’t need your sanctions after the bombardment.” What do you say to that?

Llamas later asked: “Jake, we are convinced that Russia will invade Ukraine. What leads you to believe that they’re going to stop at Ukraine?”

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On CBS Mornings, Sullivan was at least gently pressed on similar topics, even liberal co-host Gayle King questioned whether the administration should be “more proactive”:

Yesterday on Face the Nation, Jake, the Russian ambassador said, “Listen, there are no such plans for an invasion.” Which is so confusing because you know when you’re a little kid and they say if it walks like a duck, sounds like a duck, looks like a duck, it’s a duck. It seems like we’re just waiting for something to happen. Can we be more proactive here?

Co-host Nate Burleson raised the possibility of Americans being left behind, like in Afghanistan, in the wake of an invasion: “Jake, the President said the military will not help evacuate Americans from Russia or Ukraine. What is the Biden administration doing to help ensure that Americans can leave those countries safely and quickly if needed?”

King wrapped up the exchange by noting other problems facing Americans:

And, Jake, before you go, can you help the American people understand why we should be concerned about this? In this country people are looking at COVID, they’re looking at rising prices, they’re looking at, you know, gas is high, the food is high. Why should we be – why should we pay close attention to this, why does this matter to us?

When even Gayle King can ask somewhat tough questions of a top Biden administration official, ABC has truly been put to shame.

Of course the one topic none of the network morning shows dared to raise with Sullivan was his role in pushing the false Russian collusion narrative against former President Trump and how the latest developments in the investigation by Special Counsel John Durham have further implicated his involvement.

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Here is a transcript of Strahan’s questions to Sullivan during the February 21 interview:

7:08 AM ET

MICHAEL STRAHAN: Joining us now is White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. Mr. Sullivan, thank you so much for joining us this morning. And we’re just gonna get right into it. Is President Biden still convinced that Putin is going to invade Ukraine and has anything changed?


STRAHAN: There have been reports of a possible meeting with Putin and President Biden. How likely is that to happen?


STRAHAN: How much hope do you have for diplomacy at this point?


STRAHAN: And even though we’re seeing all of these things that have been laid out ahead of time and they’re all coming to fruition, we all do hold out hope for an agreement. So if there is – if an agreement is likely, what would it look like? Are there concessions that the U.S., NATO, along with Ukraine, could make to Russia to avoid war?


STRAHAN: And we saw that President Biden deployed several thousand more troops to Europe. And he said he will not send troops to Ukraine. So will these sanctions and support for Ukraine’s defense be enough should Russia attack?


STRAHAN: Mr. Jake Sullivan, thank you so much for joining us this morning, appreciate your time.

JAKE SULLIVAN: Thanks for having me.

STRAHAN: You’re welcome.

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