“The media has done one of the great reporting jobs in the history.”
Following news Sunday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller cleared Donald Trump and his associates of colluding with Russia, conservatives have come for the news media.
Tweets, articles, and TV clips of false reports and unfounded speculation have been resurfaced and subjected to damning commentary. And examples have not been hard to find.
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Just hours before Attorney General William Barr released a summary of Mueller’s findings, CNN’s Brian Stelter took to the air to offer a full-throated defense of how the press has covered the president, including its relentless reporting on the now-debunked allegations of collusion with the Kremlin. At the same time, Stelter went on the offensive against Trump supporters, whom he accused of conducting a kind of “witch hunt” against journalism.
“So, don’t be fooled by the partisans who cherry-pick the worst mistakes of individual journalists or the craziest ideas from commentators and claim that’s the entire media. It’s not,” said the “Reliable Sources” host.
“We’re waiting for the facts. Because here is what I know. You’re gonna hear this from the right for the next days and weeks to come that the press has basically made all of this up to take down President Trump. But the press is just following a trail that Trump created. He has proven time and time again that he cannot be trusted. He is so dishonest that even America’s allies don’t know what to believe. He is so unpredictable that his aides sometimes don’t know what to say or how to respond. That’s the crucial context for whatever comes next.”
During Stelter’s rant, a chyron popped up, reading: “Trump Allies Are Blaming the Media (Again).”
Looking ahead, Stelter said that even if Mueller verified Trump’s repeated claims that he had not colluded with Russia, reporters always had “good reason” for their decisions.
“Maybe every time he said, ‘No collusion’ – what more than 231 times so far – maybe every time he said, ‘No collusion,’ he was telling the truth. Maybe that’s what Mueller found. If so, that would be a relief for the country,” the media analyst said.
“But Trump’s daily deceptions have given this country ample reason to be suspicious. That is why there is so much noise. News coverage doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Reporters don’t ask questions for no good reason. Speculation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. So let’s hope real investigating and real research and real reporting can lead us out of this.”
Concluding his sermon, Stelter offered an equivocal endorsement of the special counsel.
“The name Mueller has come to mean a lot of things,” he said. “Hopefully it means truth, and hopefully soon! Let’s get this report out.”
WATCH BRIAN STELTER’S FULL MONOLOGUE HERE:
Grabien Media founder Tom Elliot joked in a tweet that he thought “for a second” that Stelter might do a “deep dive into how the media so badly botched the last two years of Trump/Russia reporter.” But, alas, no.
For a second
I thought @brianstelter might use today’s Reliable Sources for a deep dive into how the media so badly botched the last two years of Trump/Russia reporting.
Instead it’s how conservative media are “going too far” reporting on the probe coming up dry on collusion.
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) March 24, 2019
Washington Examiner reporter Jerry Dunleavy was among those who were inspired to recall Stelter’s derogatory nickname.
The media’s janitor! https://t.co/GQPQO0eQgx
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) March 24, 2019
Others pointed out that CNN had aired its fair share of false and misleading stories, including the infamous December 2017 report that WikiLeaks had months before the 2016 election offered the Trump campaign exclusive access to the emails Russian operatives stole from the Democratic National Committee. Hours after CNN broke, and repeatedly rebroadcast, the story – followed by MSNBC and CBS – the Washington Post reported that the hacked documents had been released a day before WikiLeaks made the offer.
Some of the worst misinformation, botched stories and bad reporting about the Mueller probe came directly from @CNN.
No surprise to see Zucker's CNN mouthpiece rush to defend his corporate masters. Shameless. https://t.co/JXXFPcOIBm
— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) March 24, 2019
Mistakes such as that one – which was never fully explained to viewers – were likely on the mind of Rich Lowry, the editor of the National Review, when he responded to the revelation about the Mueller report with a series of tweets calling the press “obsessed and hysterical” and saying: “The last 2 years represent one of the biggest media fails of our lifetimes.”
The last 2 years represent one of the biggest media fails of our lifetimes
— Rich Lowry (@RichLowry) March 24, 2019
Fox News host Sean Hannity said the “mainstream media” would be “held accountable” for its lies.
CNN, MSNBC, and the mainstream media have lied to the the American for 2 plus years. Now they will be held accountable.
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) March 24, 2019
After his monologue, Stelter brought on Carl Berstein of Watergate fame, who praised the press coverage of Trump’s presidency in historic terms.
“I think we’ve done — the media, the press — has done one of the great reporting jobs in the history, especially of covering a presidency, by the most news organizations,” he said.
Regarding Trump supporters, Bernstein called the “right wing” a “blind following,” which he said was “marching in lock step” with the president.”
Also said: “I think we’ve done — the media, the press — has done one of the great reporting jobs in the history, especially of covering a presidency, by the most news organizations."https://t.co/xbfUmTpXCs
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) March 24, 2019
Since Stelter’s show aired, CNN has given an indication of how it might frame its coverage of Trump going forward. The network’s online headline for Barr’s announcement made sure to mention that – contrary to Trump’s claim in a celebratory tweet – the attorney general said Mueller had not definitively proved that the president did not obstruct justice.
Subsequent TV programming focused on Democrats’ demands for the full Mueller report to be released, their claims that Barr is biased, and their plans to call him to testify about his summary of the Mueller report.
WATCH BRIAN STELTER’S INTERVIEW WITH CARL BERSTEIN HERE: