CBS Grills Secretary of State Blinken While ABC, NBC Throw Softballs

The Russian invasion was imminent, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken appeared on Wednesday’s evening newscasts. Blinken was asked by all three networks questions about Russia’s actions and what America can expect from it. CBS however, did not ask. Evening News’ interview was noteworthy for how tough it was for the Biden administration official. 

CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell pulled no punches when she interviewed Blinken starting the segment by asking: “The President’s swift and severe sanctions have not deterred the Russians. So does that mean this was a failure of American diplomacy?” 

As expected, Blinken denied that Russia’s actions are a failure of American diplomacy, arguing that it “succeeded very effectively in bringing the world together, the United States and Europe together in standing up to Russian aggression.” 

O’Donnell then wondered if it is now too late to stop Russia from invading Ukraine. She then pleaded with Blinken “how can the world stand by and watch what could be the beginning of the bloodiest conflict in Europe since World War II?” 

Blinken continued to argue that the sanctions are indeed working because they are going to “make it very hard for Russia to raise money around the world, to finance its projects” and that if Russia invades the “unprecedented sanctions will have a severe impact.” Norah was not buying it: 



However, it isn’t stopping Vladimir Putin from carrying out a large-scale invasion. Your estimates even put the death toll at over 100,000. This is unacceptable. Are you sure Putin won’t stop attacking Ukraine?

Blinken kept insisting that Biden’s sanctions are working as a deterrent. “We’re not waiting. We’re acting. We are acting together. We’re acting swiftly, and we’re doing everything we can to deter him,” Blinken urged.  

Over on ABC’s World News TonightBlinken was much happier with the interview. Anchor David Muir began the interview asking about the Russian separatists that “have now made a formal appeal to Vladimir Putin for military help” 

Moments later, Muir asked Blinken that “Putin giving every signal that he’s now moving forward, so, are the sanctions working here?” Blinken replied that the sanctions have worked to kill Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline project. 

The interview was then ended by Muir asking the following questions. The first was “if sanctions don’t work here, are there any non-economic moves President Biden can take?” The second was “if sanctions don’t work, is there anything else President Biden can do here?” The third question being if Blinken still believes there’s “a diplomatic path?”   

NBC will continue to broadcast the news. Nightly News anchor Lester Holt asked Blinken if he has “reason to believe before this night is over, Russian forces will be engaged in something akin to a full invasion of Ukraine?” Blinken’s answer made headlines:   

Unfortunately, Russia’s forces are now at the last point of readiness along Ukraine’s borders to the east and south. Russia seems well-positioned to launch a major attack against Ukraine. 

A clearly stunned Holt asked for clarification “to be clear, you think tonight that can happen? Or will happen?” Blinken doubled down on his belief that it will happen. 

Holt then asked this question: 

Putin appears to have not been deterred by the first round of sanctions. Given the Pentagon’s attack description, it seems like he won’t be stopped with the next round. Are the options open to the government? Are the Russians in control of Ukraine now a complete feta? 

It was also the first time sanctions had been mentioned in an interview with NBC. Holt then ended the interview by asking what Blinken thought Europe would look like with “Ukraine in Russian hands”? 

ABC & NBC giving softball interviews to Secretary of State Blinken was made possible by the sponsorships of Nature’s Bounty on ABC, and Fidelity on NBC. You can link to their information.

To read the relevant transcripts click “expand” 

CBS Evening News
Eastern at 6:37 

NORAH O’DONNELL:  Mr. Secretary, thank you for joining us. The U.S. warned Ukraine about a possible invasion. Russians have been repelled by the President’s harsh and swift sanctions. Does this mean that American diplomacy failed?

SECRETARY DATE ANTONY BLINEN: Actually, the opposite. The first is that diplomacy worked very well in bringing together the entire world. This includes the United States of America and Europe in opposing Russian aggression. However, we have made clear that Russia will continue to escalate and if it invades Ukraine in large-scale, beyond the current actions, it will be escalated. This knowledge could still serve as a deterrent. We’ve made it clear that Russia’s actions will have massive consequences.

O’DONNELL: I wonder if it’s too late. You mean, the world can’t just watch and wait for what might be the start of Europe’s bloodiest war since World War II. 

BLINKEN : No, we are not watching and waiting. Contrary. This is despite the fact that we have spent many months collaborating with partners and allies to create these extremely significant consequences for Russia. Yesterday, Germany pulled out a $11 billion pipeline that Russia had been counting on to make it a lucrative cash cow to sell energy to Europe. This is no longer on the table. This is something that we have been working on for many months. Russia will be unable to borrow money from the rest of the world and finance its projects if additional sanctions are imposed. Unprecedented sanctions could have severe consequences if this is allowed to happen.

O’DONNELL: But, Mr. Secretary, this is not stopping Vladimir Putin from a full-scale invasion. Over 100,000 people have been killed, you even calculated. This is unacceptable. Are you sure Putin won’t stop attacking Ukraine?  

BLINKEN – We are not waiting. We’re acting. We are acting together. We act quickly, and do everything possible to prevent him from doing so. It won’t stop Putin from further aggression against Ukraine. There will be swift, severe responses. For a long time, Russia and Vladimir Putin will have to pay this price.

O’DONNELL: Mr. Secretary, thank you for your time.

BLINKEN – It is good to be there.

ABC’s World News Tonight
Eastern, 6:38 

DAVID MUIR (Secretary Blinken): Thank you so much for being here tonight. To get straight to the story that Russian state news reports, those Russian separatists living in Ukraine’s two independent regions have made an appeal to Vladimir Putin asking for assistance with military operations. This was in response to Ukrainian aggression and accusation of genocide. It was made in Moscow in the middle night. And you’ve been saying all along the U.S. has been predicting that there could be some sort of manufactured plea for help here, that Putin might then use it to send in Russian troops. Do you think that’s what we are seeing?


MUIR While we are certain additional Russian military troops are being sent to the area, it’s not possible for us to confirm these numbers and capabilities. But, he said we do believe this. Let’s be very clear: the U.S. believe that Russian forces are moving into Eastern Ukraine. Could you please clarify the details? We know what we do now.


MUIR – We do know they are assembled along the borders. It sounded like they had already begun pushing in, he said. Does that sound like your belief? 


MUIR : All of us watched as Vladimir Putin made the declaration that these two countries were independent. Next, sanctions were imposed by President Biden. One hour ago, the President Biden told the American people the invasion was starting. Then we witnessed more sanctions. Today, Putin gives every indication that he is now moving forward. So, are these sanctions effective? 

SECRETARY of STATE ANTONYBLINKEN: David. The sanctions were designed to accomplish two things. We’ve spent lots of time working together with partners and allies to develop the sanctions. The sanctions that were placed against Russian financial institutions severely restrict their ability to raise capital around the world. Also, it is critical that Germany worked closely with us in order to close the Nor Stream 2 pipe. That would have provided a large cash source for Moscow moving forward. Project worth $11 million now frozen. The sanctions were put in place to stop Russia’s aggression and prevent them from launching a large-scale invasion of Ukraine. Beyond the steps that they’ve already taken. However, if they aren’t deterred by this effort, they will face severe consequences. It’s all in place. 

MUIR: Is the U.S. going to sanction Putin? 


MUIR (Male): We all know Russia has been sanctioned in the past. Putin told Russia’s people that sanctions are coming on them this week. What non-economic measures can President Biden make if sanctions aren’t effective? 




MUIR: We appear to be at the eleventh hour with just a few more seconds. Are you still convinced that there is a diplomatic route?

NBC Nightly News
Eastern: 7:07 PM 

LESTER HOLTS: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Are you able to imagine that Russian forces could be involved in an invasion of Ukraine before the night ends?

SECRETARY TO STATE ANTONY BLINEN: Russia’s forces are now at the end of their readiness to cross the border between Ukraine and the East, the North, and the South. All seems ready for Russia’s major offensive against Ukraine. 

HOLT: Do you believe that tonight it can be possible? Will it happen? 


HOLT. The initial round of sanctions did not seem to deter President Putin. Given the attack posture that you described earlier, it seems like the Pentagon will describe follow-up sanctions as meaning they won’t deter him. Are the options open to the government? Are the Russians in control of Ukraine now a complete feta?


HOLT: Russia must pay, but Ukraine will remain in Russian control. How would Europe change if Ukraine was in Russian control?

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