Texas Republican state legislator Rep. Debbie Riddle was not prepared for Anderson Cooper Tuesday night.
Riddle appeared on "Anderson Cooper 360" to discuss the threat of "terror babies" — a supposed threat in which terrorist organizations send pregnant women to the United States to have their children, who would be US citizens but trained and raised abroad to be terrorists and could enter and leave the US without raising suspicion.
Riddle based her claims on her conversations with "former FBI officials" but Cooper demanded evidence.
"What former FBI officials?" he asked. "What evidence is there of some sort of long-term plot to have American babies born here and then become terrorists?
"Well, at this point, I don't have the hard evidence right here in front of me," Riddle responded. She would not reveal her ex-FBI sources or the basis for their claims, and then tried to change the subject to porous borders and the threat of dirty bombs.
"Border security is certainly an issue, and it's a good topic," Cooper said. "It's not the topic, though...I'm just asking for proof. You say you're still gathering it from unnamed former FBI people."
"When your folks called me in the preliminary, that was part of the conversation," Riddle responded. "They did not tell me that you were going to grill me for this specific information that I was not ready to give to you tonight. They did not tell me that, sir. "
Former FBI assistant director Thomas Fuentes then appeared on Anderson Cooper's program the next evening to describe Riddle's claims as "ludicrous" and "absurd". Elise Hu at the Texas Tribune also followed up.
I made an open-records request for any records related to communication between Riddle's office and former FBI agents. Her chief of staff, Jon English, replied this afternoon, saying no such records exist. "Unfortunately we don't have any records or emails that could be reproduced for your inquiry," English wrote in an email. "Everything Rep. Riddle was referring to has been in the form of private conversations she has had, although she shares those with myself and our district director."
Then last evening, Cooper had Congressman Louie Gohmert of the
COOPER: What research? Can you tell us about the research?
GOHMERT: You are attacking the messenger, Anderson, you are better than this. You used to be good. You used to find that there was a problem and you would go after it.
COOPER: Sir, I am asking you for evidence of something that you said on the floor of the House.
GOHMERT: I did, and you listen, this is a problem. If you would spend as much time looking into the problem as you would have been trying to come after me and belittle me this week --
COOPER: Sir, do you want to offer any evidence? I'm giving you an opportunity to say what research and evidence you have. You've offered none, other than yelling.
These two clowns are among the worst of the Texas Republican contingent. Riddle's general election opponent is Brad Neal. Gohmert -- his district is adjacent to the infamous Winnebago precincts -- has no Democratic challenger. And that may be the saddest fact of all.
Wayne Slater at TrailBlazers has more, and Kuffner collects the snark.