Former CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien fostered wild conspiracy talk Wednesday by calling it “inappropriate” that the vice president, Senate majority leader, and Supreme Court chief justice were all on the same plane.
She walked back her remarks though, when schooled on the context by an unlikely source — George Conway, one of President Trump’s toughest critics, who called the charge “completely ridiculous.”
Ms. O’Brien, also a frequent critic of Republican lawmakers, was shocked by a Washington Post reporter noting the “rare” fact of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., Sen. Mitch McConnell and Vice President Mike Pence being together.
“Not just rare. Inappropriate,” she wrote on Twitter.
Her followers, in her replies, called the “brazen,” “improper” and “terrifying” meeting, among many other things, a compromise of judicial independence and part of plots to overturn Roe vs. Wade, remove all limits on Mr. Trump’s power and reimpose Jim Crow schools at the behest of the Koch brothers.
Mr. Conway — the husband of White House adviser Kellyanne Conway — pointed out that the three men were traveling to funeral services for former Sen. Richard Lugar, Indiana Republican.
Ms. O’Brien replied by asking whether that would be “still inappropriate?”
“Not at all” was Mr. Conway’s immediate reply, before he provided the whole context.
Mr. Conway noted that Mr. Pence and Mr. McConnell were part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers that also included, among others, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont and former Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia, both Democrats.
He also linked to a media-pool report noting that Chief Justice Roberts did not mix with the political lawmakers and had only a brief conversation with Mr. Pence and wife Karen Pence, whose guest Chief Justice Roberts was on Air Force Two. The chief justice “smiled and said little,” the pool reporter wrote.
Mr. Conway said “There have been suggestions that somehow it was inappropriate for the Chief Justice to have flown to Sen. Lugar’s funeral with @VP and a bipartisan group of members of Congress. Those suggestions are completely ridiculous, particularly in light of this account of the flight.”
At that, Ms. O’Brien backed off.
“Mr. Conway spares me the mention — but I said it was inappropriate. Transcript is below, so I’m changing my position, with thx to Mr. Conway,” she wrote.
But which of Ms. O’Brien’s two tweets made bigger waves on social media?
As of 11:15 p.m. Wednesday evening, the tweet calling the meeting “inappropriate” had been retweeted more than 4,400 times and received almost 18,000 likes. Her walkback tweet had just a fraction of the reach — 145 retweets and less than 1,200 likes — despite having been up for about half as long (three hours versus six hours).