Just over a week ago, now-former Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló was still desperately clinging to power in spite of widespread protests calling for his ouster.
But just days after he was absolutely shredded in a hard-hitting interview with Fox News host Shepard Smith, the embattled governor finally agreed to step aside — and now, one pundit is wondering if Smith had anything to do with it.
In an op-ed for Mediaite, the outlet’s founding editor, Colby Hall, questioned just how much impact the interview between Rosselló and Smith had on the governor’s decision to resign.
That nearly 20-minute interview featured Smith offering no quarter whatsoever to Rosselló; the Fox host laid out in explicit detail the several ongoing scandals wracking Rossello’s administration that had compelled the Puerto Rican people to take to the streets in protest.
Among the instances of misconduct is the alleged mismanagement of millions of dollars in taxpayer-provided hurricane relief funds, which some members of Rosselló’s administration have been accused of directing to their friends and politically-connected contractors. Several of those Rosselló officials have since been indicted.
That scandal was only made worse by the subsequent leak of roughly 900 pages of crude, offensive text messages between Rosselló and other administration officials, which some called homophobic and misogynistic. Other messages made a mockery of victims and survivors of the devastating hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico in 2017.
“Who’s left to support you?”
Smith was unrelentingly brutal in his questioning of Rosselló on those and other matters, leaving the governor a stuttering mess as he attempted to recite his prepared talking points that were simply batted down and ignored by Smith.
At one point in the interview, Smith bluntly asked: “Who’s left to support you? Is it even safe for you to continue to govern?”
Rosselló struggled to come up with the name of a supporter, but after Smith continued to press for an answer, the governor finally mentioned by name the mayor of the city of San Sebastian — only for that mayor to later make clear to Puerto Rican media that he, in fact, did not support the governor’s continued leadership.
Who’s to blame?
Hall’s ultimate assessment was that Smith’s “tour de force in journalism” against the embattled governor — clips of which immediately went viral across the island territory — prompted Rosselló’s choice to step down.
To be sure, the hundreds of thousands of protestors who chanted and yelled in the streets for weeks would likely beg to differ, and it is fair to argue that Rosselló was likely on his way out regardless of how the interview with Smith had gone, given the immense pressure from the people demanding his ouster.
That said, it could also be argued that, while perhaps his talk with Smith was not the deciding factor in Rosselló’s decision to resign, the terrible interview quite possibly hastened his eventual exit from power.