Republican senator calls out Fox News host’s ‘lies’ over TikTok ban in on-air clash

Senator Rand Paul — a staunch opponent of the recent House bill that could result in TikTok vanishing from US app stores — battled with Fox News Host Brian Kilmeade over the details of the legislation.

The Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applicants Act was passed with overwhelming support in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. If signed into law it will give ByteDance 180 days to divest from TikTok by selling 80 per cent of their shares to an American company, or otherwise face removal from US app stores.

When Kilmeade stated that TikTok is owned by ByteDance, which he claimed is “owned by China,” the Republican pushed back.

“No, it’s not. See, that’s a lie,” the Senator from Kentucky said. “You’re defaming the company.”

In a statement on Wednesday, Mr Paul expressed his disdain for the bill. He called it an “unrealistic and narrow path for divestment,” that “threatens the very core of American digital innovation and free expression.”

When Kilmeade continued to argue with the Senator, he emphasized that “TikTok is owned privately.”

“You’ve just told a lie, Brian,” Mr Paul continued. “You can’t say on TV something that is a lie about a company.”

It is unclear if the bill will now make it through the Democratically controlled Senate, as it has faced backlash from both sides of the aisle.

Democrats like Representative Ilhan Omar and Representative Jim Himes, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, both voted no, while Republicans like Marjorie Taylor Greene joined. Meanwhile, proponents of the bill argue it is essential for protecting national security.

However, if the bill does pass the Senate, Joe Biden has said he will sign it into law.

As Dr Aynne Kokas, a professor at the University of Virginia, told The Independent last week, the Chinese government may retaliate through trade if the bill becomes law.

“We could see more bellicose rhetoric or greater kind of trade pressures that are placed on the US by China,” Dr Kokas said on Wednesday.