Pavlich: Mueller’s indictment of the media
It’s been nearly two years since Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation into the 2016 presidential election was officially launched. Since its initiation, the probe has been shrouded in mystery, with little information outside of official indictments and court documents to paint a clear picture about what’s actually going on.
The special counsel’s spokesman, Peter Carr, is hardly one at all and seems to only respond to inquiries to the office with “no comment.” That hasn’t stopped the press from barreling forward with their narrative that President Trump has direct ties to Russia and used the Kremlin to win the 2016 presidential election.
There may be no evidence now, but eventually dogged reporters will get to it by breathlessly backing fired FBI Director James Comey’s decision to open a counterintelligence operation into President Trump. After all, he joked about Hillary Clinton’s unsecured email server and how it would be easy for the Russians to hack. Because of this, he could be a Russian operative sitting in the Oval Office.
Or how about the media’s endless obsession with a meeting that took place at Trump Tower in 2016, which led NPR to accuse Donald Trump Jr. of giving Congress false testimony. After the allegation was called out for being untrue, the outlet was forced to retract, citing “being in a hurry” for the mistake.
Despite a lack of solid information, evidence and facts, speculation has run rampant in major news reports about the special counsel’s operations. Many of them were wrong, with major errors that led to mass retractions.
In April the special counsel issued one of two public statements. It was about the media failing to properly report the actions of investigators.
“What I have been telling all reporters is that many stories about our investigation have been inaccurate,” Carr said in a statement. “Be very cautious about any source that claims to have knowledge about our investigation and dig deep into what they claim before reporting on it. If another outlet reports something, don’t run with it unless you have your own sourcing to back it up.”
Then last week BuzzFeed News published a story alleging President Trump directed attorney Michael Cohen to lie during congressional testimony. After being blasted across major news networks and digital outlets for nearly 12 hours, with the word “impeachment” used hundreds of times, the special counsel released a rare statement knocking down the accuracy of the story.
“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” special counsel spokesman Peter Carr released in a statement.
Adding insult to injury, President Trump’s personal legal team confirmed they were in contact with the special counsel about the story and both concluded it was bogus.
Not surprisingly, BuzzFeed is standing by its reporting.
Media outlets aren’t simply in a hurry when covering the Trump, Russia or the special counsel. Instead, they’ve repeatedly allowed personal confirmation bias and a visceral reaction to a Republican president tank nearly all of their credibility. The vast majority of journalists or reporters sit on the left. Only 7 percent of the White House Press Corps identifies as Republican. The continued proliferation of their own narrative is what matters, not correcting previous mistakes brought on by bias in the first place. After all, true reflection of the press’ problem would require some real introspection and an admission there is a problem at all. This is the first step to recovery and one the majority of those at the heart of this issue just can’t come to terms with.
Rampant anonymous sourcing continues, despite how many times those sources have burned reporters. So long as they’re still saying the right things about Trump’s collusion with Russia, their quotes and information are still being used to drive major pieces.
Members of the press who truly care about regaining credibility can start by acknowledging the personal biases that bleed into their work. Until then, nothing will change.
The special counsel investigation hasn’t only been an indictment of Paul Manafort or Michael Cohen for personal crimes unrelated to collusion, it’s been an indictment of the media and a transparent view into how most reporters view the Trump presidency.
Pavlich is the editor for Townhall.com and a Fox News contributor.
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