As Russia Collusion Story Collapses, Media Turn in Desperation to ‘Obstruction’
Journalists scramble to pin something, anything, on Trump; New York Times refuses to correct false story
Media heads exploded in the aftermath of James Comey’s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.
Comey, the former FBI director, did his best to avenge his May 9 firing by tarring President Donald Trump with suggestions he pressured him to drop an investigation into Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser.
Despite the fact that Comey said that many anonymously sourced news stories have made mistakes about Trump and any alleged ties to Russian hacking, the media have persisted with their frenzied anti-Trump narratives.
They merely shifted their narratives to their newest fascination: obstruction of justice.
Leading the way was CNN's legal commentator, Jeff Toobin, who has been saying for weeks that Trump committed obstruction of justice by telling Comey he "hoped" Comey would drop the investigation of Flynn.
Despite Comey's admission that Trump was not under investigation, Toobin told Anderson Cooper that — nope, forget what Comey said — Trump is the target of a criminal probe.
"Well, here we know in June, Donald Trump is under criminal investigation, and that's a big deal, and that's important," Toobin said.
There is no evidence of Toobin's claim.
Overall, it was a pretty bad day for CNN, too, and not just because of Toobin's proclamations.
Two of CNN's top political personalities, Jake Tapper and Gloria Borger, had to issue a correction to their false claim, made repeatedly, that Comey would contradict the text of Trump's May 9 letter. In that letter, Trump fired Comey, but before he did, Trump noted he had been told three times that he was not a target of an investigation.
CNN disputed that — using anonymous sources, of course — in a story with Gloria Borger and Jake Tapper's bylines.
"Comey is going to dispute the president on this point if he's asked about it by senators, and we have to assume that he will be," said Borger, the network's chief political analyst. "He will say he never assured Donald Trump that he was not under investigation. That would have been improper for him to do so."
Most news agencies would have issued a correction or clarification — and not written an insolent reply in the form of a story. It seems during the era of Trump — if the target is Trump — that's not necessary.
CNN got it wrong — big time.
On Thursday night, the network confessed: "This article was published before Comey released his prepared opening statement. The article and headline have been corrected to reflect that Comey does not directly dispute that Trump was told multiple times he was not under investigation in his prepared testimony released after this story was published."
On MSNBC, the news was also not accepted well. Joe Scarborough hosted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who said she wanted Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign, based on Comey's remarks that implied a third meeting with Russians occurred in 2016. (LifeZette has learned no such meeting took place.)
But Chris Matthews of "Hardball" was honest: He said the narrative that Trump colluded with Russians is over.
The New York Times took it the hardest on the chin. Comey, in open testimony, shot down The Times' February 14 story that alleged Trump associates had multiple contacts with Russian foreign agents during the 2016 election.
Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee the story was so wrong he had his staff double-check to make sure they didn't miss anything.
The New York Times would not do what CNN did.
As of Friday morning the story, "Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence," has no online correction or clarification.
Instead, in a galling answer to Comey, The Times wrote a story on Thursday about Comey's remarks.
In "Comey Disputes New York Times Article About Russia Investigation," The Times wrote: "Mr. Comey did not say exactly what he believed was incorrect about the article, which was based on information from four current and former American officials, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information was classified. The original sources could not immediately be reached after Mr. Comey's remarks, but in the months since the article was published, they have indicated that they believed the account was solid."