GOP turns furor on media amid impeachment fight

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE and his allies are embracing a war with the media as part of the growing impeachment fight. 

The president, several congressional Republicans and high-profile pundits are turning their fury toward reporters, accusing them of trying to undercut the president and key officials like Attorney General William Barr. 

The backlash comes amid a steady stream of reports that are broadening the scope of who within the administration has knowledge of Trump's actions toward Ukraine that are at the center of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. 


“Much of it is corrupt. It’s corrupt. You have corrupt media in this country. And it truly is the enemy of the people,” Trump said during a meeting with the president of Finland, arguing reporters needed to look into former President Obama's conversations with Russia. 

He added as reporters left the Oval Office, “go write some phony stories.”

It’s a familiar play for Trump, who ran as a political outsider against both establishment politics and the national media and has done nothing to shift away from that persona over the past three years. 

But the degree to which Trump’s argument is getting the backing of GOP lawmakers and talking heads, who have struggled with their own high-profile messaging stumbles during the first days of the impeachment fight, are notable.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyHouse to vote on resolution affirming peaceful transition of power Ginsburg becomes the first woman to lie in state in the Capitol McCarthy says there will be a peaceful transition if Biden wins MORE (R-Calif.) said “many in the media” and Democrats took the whistleblower complaint and notes from Trump’s call with Ukraine and “twisted it to what they wanted to believe just to fold into their political narrative.” 

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCrenshaw looms large as Democrats look to flip Texas House seat SCOTUS confirmation in the last month of a close election? Ugly The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' MORE (R-Texas) accused Democrats and the media of “losing their minds” in the early stages of the impeachment fight. 

The story that appears to be sparking much of the GOP furor is a New York Times piece this week reporting that Trump urged Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to help Barr, according to two officials with knowledge of the call. The Justice Department subsequently confirmed that Trump had contacted foreign governments at Barr's request. 

“We need some independent journalism in America where people get the facts and not just a steady stream of opinion pieces,” Sen. John CornynJohn CornynHillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close Lawmakers introduce legislation to boost cybersecurity of local governments, small businesses On The Trail: Making sense of this week's polling tsunami MORE (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said during an interview with a Texas radio station. 

Cornyn, who frequently speaks to the media around the Capitol, added that he thought the publication had “really given up any pretense of objectivity” and become a “partisan rag.” 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamLincoln Project mocks Lindsey Graham's fundraising lag with Sarah McLachlan-themed video The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Republicans lawmakers rebuke Trump on election Trump dumbfounds GOP with latest unforced error MORE (R-S.C.) added that he thought the piece was an attempt to undermine Barr’s investigation into the origins of the Russia probe. 

“This New York Times article is an effort to stop Barr. ... What are they afraid of? This really bothers me a lot that the left is going to try to say there's something wrong with Barr talking to Australia, Italy and the United Kingdom,” he said during an interview with Fox News’s Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityFormer Florida attorney general calls Kyle Rittenhouse 'a little boy out there trying to protect his community' Sunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election Cruz: Trump should nominate a Supreme Court justice next week MORE


In addition to the Times story, The Washington Post reported on Monday that Barr and U.S. Attorney John DurhamJohn DurhamSteele Dossier sub-source was subject of FBI counterintelligence probe Barr's Russia investigator has put some focus on Clinton Foundation: report Top Democrats call for DOJ watchdog to probe Barr over possible 2020 election influence MORE, who is leading the Justice Department’s inquiry, met with senior Italian officials. Barr has also reportedly requested assistance from British intelligence officials in connection with the inquiry.  

The party’s railing against the media comes as several polls have shown an uptick in support for impeachment in the immediate fallout from the release of the partial transcript about Trump’s call and the whistleblower complaint. 

A Politico-Morning Consult survey found that 46 percent of respondents now say Congress should begin impeachment proceedings, compared to 43 percent who say it should not

But in a number being watched more closely by GOP lawmakers and strategists, self-identified GOP voters are still largely opposed to impeaching Trump. A CNBC All-America Economic Survey released on Monday found that 88 percent of Republicans oppose impeaching Trump. 

Trump and Republicans routinely knocked reporters during the years-long investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Though former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE outlined 10 instances of potential obstruction of justice by Trump in that probe, the president and his allies have touted the findings as a victory and accused reporters of rushing to judgement.

A Pew Research Survey released earlier this year found that 62 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters think made up news is a big problem in the country. Eighty-six percent of Republicans said in a separate 2018 Pew survey that they think the news favors one side. 

Others GOP senators suggested that reporters were ignoring stories including Biden and the origins of the Russia probe in favor of being hyper-focused on impeachment. 

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Ginsburg lies in repose CHC leaders urge Senate to oppose Chad Wolf nomination  MORE (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said he still had “a lot of questions” on everything ranging from former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBloomberg rolls out M ad buy to boost Biden in Florida Hillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close Trump pledges to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, designate KKK a terrorist group in pitch to Black voters MORE’s emails to Biden's work in Ukraine. 

“People need to keep an open mind,” Johnson said during an event in Wisconsin. “The narrative from the mainstream media is all, like you say, the worst possible construction on this.”

Graham, who is known for chatting with reporters during the minutes-long walk back to his office, separately questioned in a tweet why reporters weren’t looking into “potential FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] abuse.” 

“Unfortunately, they have written off such accusations as ‘Right Wing Conspiracies,’ ” he added. “Pathetic journalism.“