Scott Pruitt, the scandal-ridden head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has embarked on a round of conservative media appearances to help defend the many spending and ethics controversies surrounding his management of the EPA.
Appearing on Sinclair Broadcast Group’s “Bottom Line with Boris” — hosted by Boris Epshteyn, former senior adviser to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign — Pruitt said, “Well, look, I care so much about taxpayer money.”
“It’s what I’ve done historically when I served at the state level. It’s important that serving in this capacity that everyone is a good steward of taxpayer money,” he continued. “But these distractions, these issues that we’ve dealt with, largely, I think, have emanated from the great work that we’ve been doing. In the first year of the Trump administration, a billion dollars in savings with respect to regulatory cost savings. And, at the same time, environmental outcomes are improving.”
Pruitt’s claim that he cares “so much” about taxpayers’ money went unchallenged by Epshteyn, who ended the short segment stating the bottom line was that “Scott Pruitt is standing strong in his job.”
The segment, however, ignored the fact that the EPA administrator is currently facing over a dozen federal investigations and audits, many of which are focused on his spending habits. This includes costing taxpayers $3.5 million for Pruitt’s personal security during his first year in office, more than $58,000 on private chartered and military flights, more than $105,000 on first class flights during his first year, and almost $43,000 on a soundproof phone booth.
But as the AP reported, when Pruitt has to foot the bill for his travel, he chooses to fly coach. And claims that more security and first class flights were required due to increased security threats to the administrator appear to be contradicted by the fact that Pruitt requested round-the-clock security starting day-one on the job.
Pruitt’s unchallenged statements made in a short, two-minute interview clip, will appear on screens across the country. According to Media Matters for America, the interview with Epshteyn, posted online Wednesday night, will air on Sinclair’s local TV stations and as of Thursday morning had already aired at least 28 times in at least 18 states.
Sinclair has quickly gained a reputation for churning out short, pro-Trump segments — described to stations as “must run” — and has been labelled a White House propaganda machine.
Last month, Epshteyn’s political analysis was added to the list of these “must run” segments, which are packaged to local news stations owned by Sinclair. The media company defends these media packages by arguing they don’t take up much time and can easily be slotted into local newscasts.
Pruitt’s appearance on Epshteyn’s show came after another interview Wednesday with the Washington Free Beacon where the administrator’s ethics scandals also went unchallenged. Pruitt was also asked about baseball and The Bachelorette.
The EPA under Pruitt has a fraught relationship with the media. Recently, the agency made headlines for barring reporters from a chemicals summit. It has also frequently used climate science denying outlets’ news coverage of the agency as press releases.
Shortly after Pruitt’s Sinclair segment was posted online, three prominent Democratic senators called for another investigation to be launched into whether Pruitt broke the law during his apartment hunt last year.