An unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction

In a race that ain't even close, Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffMask rules spark political games and a nasty environment in the House CIA says 'Havana syndrome' unlikely a result of 'worldwide campaign' by foreign power The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to make voting rights play in Atlanta MORE (D-Calif.) is the most visible member of the Democratic Congress. No lawmaker has enjoyed more free airtime than the California congressman, despite his outright falsehoods about having definitive proof of Trump-Russia collusion. 

In a sane media world, Schiff would have been jettisoned to obscurity a long time ago. Any old-school television news producer would have declared Schiff as someone not credible, all while being incredibly predictable. This is the same person – as ranking member and then chairman of the House Intelligence Committee – who presented the now-debunked Steele dossier as gospel instead of gossip when he entered the unverified document into the congressional record.  

That dossier has now been debunked and then some, all thanks to special counsel John Durham's investigation into the origins of the Russia collusion hoax. According to the indictment, Russian emigre and Steele dossier source Igor Danchenko made false statements on multiple occasions that ultimately served to support damning elements in the dossier that Schiff pushed so aggressively. 

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Schiff also made this argument repeatedly in the hundreds of interviews he granted during the Trump era.  

"I think there's plenty of evidence of collusion or conspiracy in plain sight,” Schiff told CBS News in August 2018. “Now, that's a different statement than saying that there's proof beyond a reasonable doubt of a criminal conspiracy. [Special counsel] Bob Mueller will have to determine that.”

Mueller's investigation determined in 2019 that there was no proof beyond a reasonable doubt of collusion or of a criminal conspiracy regarding Trump and Russia. If there had been, the Democratic Congress would have immediately drawn up articles of impeachment in an effort to oust President TrumpDonald TrumpDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors Former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz elected to Baseball Hall of Fame Overnight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul MORE from the Oval Office. That never happened, of course, because even House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse leaders unveil bill to boost chip industry, science competitiveness with China Pelosi says she will run for reelection in 2022 Hoyer says 'significant' version of Build Back Better will pass this year MORE (D-Calif.) knew there was no “there” there, post-Mueller report. 

So does Schiff get sent to the media version of an extended timeout, a la another lawyer in the form of one-time media darling Michael Avenatti? 

Nope. He gets rewarded with a lucrative book deal and an extended, friendly book tour. 

MSNBC's top-rated host, Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowMichigan AG asks federal prosecutors to investigate false GOP electors Democrats skeptical of McConnell's offer to talk on election law Amid multiple crises, Biden runs to NBC's safe space with Jimmy Fallon MORE, was even kind enough to read directly from Schiff's book for more than 15 minutes straight in an effort to promote it, without a hint of scrutiny, before Schiff joined her for an “interview." 

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"I got it in galley form. I didn't give it [the book] up because I have been devouring it since I first got it!" Maddow told Schiff in introducing him. "The book is very good." 

 

Several media outlets followed suit, acting more as PR firms than news organizations: 

"New book offers window into the Trump presidency from his chief congressional prosecutor" - CNN 

"Adam Schiff: What He Saw at the Trump Revolution" - New York Times

Schiff Book Reveals Republican Loyalty to Trump Threatened Democracy" - PBS 

Dozens of interviews across ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and MSNBC, and multiple glowing headlines later, Schiff got his bestseller. And, presumably, he’ll get rich in the process ... all based on a very big lie.  

Bloomberg's Eli Lake offered a rare rebuke of Schiff in a piece he wrote recently for Commentary Magazine. "In 2020, the Trump administration declassified the transcripts of depositions given to the House Intelligence Committee," Lake wrote. "Every witness had been asked whether or not he or she had seen evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. None of them — not James ClapperJames Robert ClapperUS intelligence community 'struggled' to brief Trump in 2016, CIA review shows An unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Hillicon Valley — Justice Department takes on Uber MORE, not Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesFormer Chicago Red Stars players accuse ex-coach of verbal, emotional abuse An unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Sally Yates reveals breast cancer battle MORE, not Susan RiceSusan RiceKey member of White House immigration team retiring: report Gun control advocates express disappointment with Biden An unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction MORE — said they did.”  

At last check, Clapper, Yates and Rice were not fans of the 45th president. 

One would think many in our media would take issue with being duped by Schiff for the better part of three years. One would think that someone would challenge him on his outrageous claims.  

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But, no. 

They want to believe Schiff because of who the target is – Trump – instead of simply reporting the facts and holding the congressman accountable. 

The consequences of performing this kind of "journalism" are very real, though. 

Example: Edelman's 2021 “Trust Barometer” found that 56 percent of Americans now believe "journalists and reporters are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations." And 57 percent say "most news organizations are more concerned with supporting an ideology or political position than with informing the public."

That's devastating, because it is no longer about human error. Instead, there’s a perception of intent to mislead. That kind of toothpaste from a trust perspective is impossible to put back in the tube.  

Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill.