'Special Report' All-Star Panel on baby formula shortage, Title 42


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This is a rush transcript of “Special Report” on May 18, 2022. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, HOST: Don’t think the baby formula shortage is affecting the politics and affecting families? This is the president of the United States behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office initiating the Defense Production Act on baby formula.

Let’s bring in our panel, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, Katie Pavlich, news editor at Townhall.com, Harold Ford Jr., former Tennessee Congressman, co-host of THE FIVE, and FOX News senior political analyst Brit Hume. Brit, you get the sense that the administration got it, that they had to do something, they had to move. What about this move?

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this is probably a reasonable thing to do. One wonders why it wasn’t done sooner and how this crisis was ever able to become a crisis when the administration has said that they knew that this was a problem some months ago when they shut that factory down here in this country, the FDA shut that factory down here in this country. So, once again, it looks like the administration is on the case finally — excuse me. But you never expected to see the president as you just suggested sitting behind the resolute desk talking about baby formula, but here we are.

BAIER: Here we are. Harold?

HAROLD FORD JR., FORMER TENNESSEE REPRESENTATIVE: I agree with Brit. Thanks for having me. You have to wonder, I think, a couple things. One, when we knew from a safety standpoint that we would have to stop producing, I believe, at Abbott, why wasn’t quicker or, for that matter, this smart action taken then? Too long-term. We need probably more production here in this country. We seem to have a limited number of companies that produce baby formula. That should not be the case.

I do hope that the lost art form of people coming together, Democrats, Republicans alike trying to fix the problem after would allocate the blame, and there is blame to be assigned here, that we figure out ways to not be in this situation ever again.

BAIER: Yes. Ari, you have been in the White House dealing with crises. What about this White House, how it has dealt with a number of different things that we have seen?

ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, it does seem they are slow on the uptake, and that’s the problem. There are always problems. Bureaucracies create problems because they just do what bureaucracies do, and then the White House has to catch up to it. But somehow the White House that didn’t know about this let it get to this late stage.

And I will just tell you, Bret, if ever there was an issue for both moms and dads who don’t care the who, the what, the where, the why, they just need, they need the formula to feed their baby, this is it. So I am glad to see them bringing airplanes of baby formula into the country. I just think they should have been on top of it earlier, as Brit said.

BAIER: Yes, this obviously crosses every ideological party line, no matter what, Democrat, Independent, Republican. It’s baby formula and you have got a family.

I want to talk about the disinformation board, Katie. And here’s the back and forth with our own Peter Doocy in the White House briefing room today on this issue.


PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You guys said that you needed this disinformation governance board at DHS to make sure that freedom of speech is protected across the country and that these platforms are not used for forms of disinformation. So what changed?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Look, the Department of Homeland Security, they began their statement repeating that the board had been intentionally mischaracterized. It was never about censorship, policing speech, or removing content from anywhere.

DOOCY: The disinformation board is being shut down because of disinformation? Is that what is happening here?

JEAN-PIERRE: The board was put forth for a purpose, right, to make sure that we really did — really did address what was happening across the country when it came to disinformation.

Now what we are going to do is we are going to pause it and we are going to do an assessment.


BAIER: Katie, this seemed like it was destined to fail, but it’s an interesting explanation.

KATIE PAVLICH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, and “The Washington Post” story that broke the news on this framed it as if criticisms from Republicans or conservative media are the reason why this disinformation board is possibly going to be disbanded and why Nina Jankowicz, who was going to be executive director has resigned. But that’s not the case at all. The fact is that DHS caught the White House off guard when they announced this information board. The former press secretary, Jen Psaki, was asked about the specific woman being in charge of it and some of the tweets that she had sent saying that the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian disinformation, for example. And they said that they, a, didn’t much about it, and then came back and tried to spin it.

And now we’re seeing that didn’t sit well with many people, both Democrats and Republicans, that the Department of Homeland Security would be deciding as a government entity what is true and what is false and working to decide and put out information on a variety of issues, which would, of course, cause them to engage in censorship and pressure private companies or private media companies to change the information they were publishing.

BAIER: Speaking of DHS, you have the Homeland Security secretary heading to the border just five days, Harold, before you have this decision, excuse me, on Title 42. Take a listen.


TOM HOMAN, FORMER ACTING ICE DIRECTOR: The cartels are taking advantage. They know the Border Patrol is overwhelmed. They are processing quick and releasing quick.

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: It is very important to note that while, of course, we are preparing for the end of Title 42, that does not mean that the border is open beginning on May 23rd. We continue to enforce the laws of this country.


BAIER: Harold, there is a lot of people who look at this and say the border is open now, in essence, even though that’s not what the DHS secretary says.

FORD: I wish that Title 42 would not be suspended. I wish it would not be revoked. COVID is on the uptick all across the country, particularly in the northeast. You would have to imagine vaccination rates in a lot of these countries where immigrants or migrants are coming from, they may not have the vaccination rates we do. So Title 42 should be reinstated.

Two, you look at that tunnel where these drugs and arms and weapons are being transported. This is the like of a major company building out an infrastructure in order to be able to transport its goods. This is a national security issue at our border. I like Secretary Mayorkas and respect him, but he needs more help. There needs to be coordination between the FBI, the CIA, the DEA, the DOJ and others, helping us at the border not just as a migrant challenge but as a national security challenge, because that indeed is what it is.

BAIER: The gremlins have officially hit Brit Hume’s camera, so we’re going to try to get him back up. But Ari, in an effort to get gas prices to go down, the administration is taking some effort on Venezuela. This is not sitting well with some on Capitol Hill. Democrat Bob Menendez, “History shows us negotiations based on unilateral concessions have a failed track record of producing actual changes to the behavior of authoritarian regimes. Giving Maduro a handful of undeserved handouts just so his regime will promise to sit down at a negotiating table is a strategy destined to fail. Those who lament the United States and our allies’ dependence on foreign oil because it enriches regimes in terrorist states like Russia should not have a double standard when it comes to enriching a brutal dictatorship like Venezuela.” That is from the Democrat from New Jersey, Bob Menendez. Ari?

FLEISCHER: He is right about the dictatorship of Venezuela, but that’s a secondary issue. There is a primary issue. If the Biden administration is recognizing we need oil, and we do, the question is where should we best get it from? Shouldn’t the answer be America? This subservience they have to the Green New Deal means we cannot produce oil in America, but sure, we can import from foreigners, even dictatorships.

And I’ve got to tell you, Bret, if this is done in the name of the environment, bunker oil is used in those heavy shippers, shipping containers that bring oil to the United States. That is one of the most dirty pollutant fuel sources that anybody can ever imagine. The more tankers we put on the oceans to bring oil to America, the more we are polluting the air. So I don’t know how this supports the Green New Deal in any way. We should develop our energy here at home and not bring it in through imports from foreign countries. We should be energy independent, and we have the ability to do so.

BAIER: Panel, thank you. Brit Hume included. I feel gypped by Brit comments. We’ll get more of them some other time. Thank you. J.P. Morgan, by the way, says $6 gas before the end of the summer.

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