Rand Paul Calls Out Fox’s Brian Kilmeade for ‘Lying’ About TikTok Ban

Fox News
Fox News

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) clashed with Fox News co-host Brian Kilmeade on Thursday morning over Congress’ recent push to effectively ban TikTok from the United States. In the tense exchange, Paul repeatedly accused Kilmeade of “lying” about the Chinese Communist Party owning the social media platform.

The House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday that would prohibit TikTok from American app stores unless its parent company, ByteDance, divests from the short-form video site. Claiming that China controls ByteDance, lawmakers who support the legislation argue that TikTok poses a “national security threat” because the Chinese government could use it for foreign intelligence purposes.

Although the measure sailed through the House by an overwhelmingly bipartisan 352-65 vote, its passage in the Senate is uncertain, with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) remaining uncommitted to the next steps in the chamber. Young progressives are pressuring Democrats to oppose the ban, while Republicans have been placed in a tough spot as former President Donald Trump recently reversed course on his anti-TikTok position.

Yet despite Trump’s sudden about-face on TikTok, many at Fox News have held their ground and continued to paint the social media platform as an existential threat to American security. The libertarian-leaning Paul, on the other hand, has maintained that the proposed ban “makes no sense whatsoever” and even takes a page from China’s own authoritarian government.

So it was all but given that Thursday morning’s Fox & Friends interview would be contentious. And the two combatants did not disappoint.

From the start, Kilmeade wondered why the Kentucky senator believed that “TikTok is not a danger to America,” prompting Paul to respond that it “isn’t a question of whether the allegations are true or false” but rather why the government wants to “take someone’s property in our country without a conviction.”

Pointing out that previous attempts by Trump and others to ban TikTok have been ruled unconstitutional, Paul noted that the House legislation is a slippery slope that could soon be used against Kilmeade’s own employer.

Inside Washington’s War Over TikTok

“There’s a real danger, for example, for Fox News. I don’t know, maybe you have some foreign owners,” he said. “I don’t know if everybody is an American citizen. And then what if they say Fox News is giving misinformation on the election? You have a foreign ownership. You have misinformation, according to the government.”

Paul added: “All of a sudden, they say we are going to shut down Fox News, or we are going to shut down Twitter. The bill just isn’t about TikTok. It mentions TikTok by name, which is also a problem. Laws are not allowed to target one company. There is also a danger that goes beyond that.”

Kilmeade argued that allowing TikTok in the U.S. was akin to China flying “170 million spy balloons over America,” adding that the American public needs to ask itself “whether they want to give the Chinese government the ability to control access to their data.” The Fox News star then wondered if Paul felt there should be a list of nations that shouldn’t be allowed to own social media platforms.

Paul, for his part, disputed the notion that ByteDance is even controlled by the Chinese government, pointing out that 20 percent of the company is owned by the two Chinese software engineers who started the business, international investors hold 60 percent, and the company’s employees own the remaining 20 percent.

“In fact, on TikTok’s board there are no Chinese nationals that control this or are associated with the government at all. There are CEOs from Singapore,” he insisted. “So this is an international corporation, and like every other international corporation, they deserve their day in court. You can’t just take their property.”

The conversation grew increasingly heated as the two sparred over the effectiveness of Project Texas, ByteDance’s $1.5 billion plan to route all of its American user data to Oracle in an effort to assure the U.S. government that “the platform is free from outside influence.”

“Nobody thinks the Texas Project is up and running and effective,” Kilmeade declared.

“Well, I do!” Paul shot back, only for the Fox host to continue to steamroll over him.

From there, the two battled over whether China actually had a controlling interest in the company, resulting in Paul outright calling the Fox & Friends presenter a liar.

“Who owns that company? ByteDance. ByteDance is owned by China,” Kilmeade asserted.

“No. It’s not. See, that’s a lie,” the senator exclaimed. “And you are defaming… the company. Sixty percent of it is owned by international investors. Twenty percent is owned by the software developers who are Chinese. And 20 percent is owned by the employees, 7,000 of whom are Americans!”

Kilmeade, undeterred, once again argued that China owns ByteDance and, by default, owns TikTik’s algorithm, sparking another angry retort from Paul.

“You just told a lie,” an outraged Paul growled. “You can’t say something on TV that’s a lie about a company. That is an out-and-out lie, and it is provably false!”

The pair kept going back and forth until Kilmeade said he had to cut the interview short because he was up against a “hard break,” but not before they both got some parting shots in.

“You’re comfortable with TikTok influencing America,” Kilmeade huffed.

“I’m comfortable with the Constitution. You cannot take people’s property without due process,” Paul replied. “If you believe there’s a national exemption to the Constitution, then you believe that Fox News could be shut down, that Twitter could be shut down. That’s a terrible thing to believe.”

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