November 2, 2017

Press Attacks Murdoch Outlets For Not Being Trump-Russia Obsessed

Most establishment press outlets initially gave wildly disproportionate time and attention to the Monday indictment of March-August 2016 Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, to the exclusion or near exclusion of many other stories, particularly Russia-related items relating to Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, the Clinton Foundation and the Obama administration. Several outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. have not — and the press is furiously and often dishonestly attacking them.

On Tuesday, as noted in a NewsBusters post, CNN found “some” Fox News employees who claimed to be, in reporter Oliver Darcy’s words, “embarrassed and humiliated” by the network’s coverage — first, because the network “found plenty of time to cover other topics, like the NFL protests, North Korea, and tax reform,” while CNN and MSNBC “aired non-stop rolling coverage throughout the day”; and second, because “Fox News aired segments that questioned (special counsel Robert) Mueller’s credibility” and looked at how ‘Trump and his allies were responding to the news.”

In other words, in the whiners’ world, you weren’t a real journalist on Monday unless you were all Manafort-Trump-Russia, all the time, with completely one-sided reporting.

The cacophony of press criticism has extended to other Murdoch-owned outlets (bolds are mine throughout this post):

  • As Clay Waters noted at NewsBusters Wednesday afternoon, Jim Rutenberg at the New York Times complained that “The collective coverage from The (Wall Street) Journal editorial page, The New York Post and Fox News … was testament to the Murdoch empire’s ability to make its own journalistic weather.”
  • At the Washington Post on Wednesday, obsessed Never-Trumper Jennifer Rubin took issue with the “The sorry state of Murdoch media.” Aiming her fire at a Journal editorial arguing that Mueller “could best serve the country by resigning to prevent further political turmoil over … conflict of interest,” Rubin decried how “The perceived shift in the Journal’s editorial board … is symptomatic of the intellectual rot that has eaten away at the right, and at the Republican Party specifically.”Hardly. The Journal’s editorial board has had a glaring blind spot on immigration for decades, even, in 1984, advocating a five-word constitutional amendment reading “There shall be open borders.” On Thursday, after the terrorist attack in New York City which killed eight, a typically naive Journal editorial berated Trump for criticizing the diversity visa program, the initiative which allowed alleged perpetrator Sayfullo Saipov into the country with minimal vetting, describing the President’s harsh words as an attempt to “scapegoat.”
  • At Slate, Justin Peters went after Fox backhandedly (“Fox News Did a Great Job Covering the Mueller Indictments. Then Shepard Smith Signed Off”) — and complained that “Smith’s good work started to come undone as soon as The Five came on the air at 5 p.m. ”

An especially cynical and dishonest critique came from Jason Schwartz at Politico:

Murdoch-owned outlets bash Mueller, seemingly in unison

After resisting opportunities to take Trump’s line on Russia, the Wall Street Journal editorial page goes all in.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page has in the past been a stern critic of Donald Trump, but in recent days has come under fire for pieces that critics say shift attention away from the president — with many people, including former staffers, left to wonder why.

After having generally avoided Trump’s efforts to de-legitimize democratic institutions, the Journal last week wrote an editorial calling for special counsel Robert Mueller to resign and featured a contributor op-ed Sunday afternoon that said Trump should issue a blanket pardon in the Russian scandal, including of himself.

The Journal has also called for an investigation into Democratic Party collusion with Russia, a conservative talking point in the wake of a Washington Post report that Hillary Clinton’s campaign paid for some of the opposition research that led to the infamous “dossier” of anti-Trump information – but which made no suggestion of any collusion with Russia.

The points made in the pieces in the Journal, owned by Rupert Murdoch, not only tracked with White House talking points but were similar to those being hawked on other Murdoch properties, including the New York Post and Fox News.

Taking the six bolded items in order:

  • Schwartz clearly believes that anything which “shifts attention away from the president” is out of bounds — even the crimes and scandalous behavior which led to Russia gaining control of 20 percent of the U.S. uranium supply while Barack Obama was President and Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, and even the fact that Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee funded the infamous, bogus Trump-Russia dossier.
  • Such de-legitimization “attempts” by Trump pale in comparison to those undertaken during the Obama administration, and in comparison to the left’s year-long effort to de-legitimize the November 2016 presidential election winner.
  • The Journal editorial, as already noted, was a call for Mueller to resign based on his conflict of interest. Specifically, “the FBI’s role in Russia’s election interference must now be investigated—even as the FBI and Justice insist that Mr. Mueller’s probe prevents them from cooperating with Congressional investigators.” Assuming one genuinely wants to see all necessary investigations conducted and conclude, that’s a quite defensible position to take.
  • In a later paragraph, Schwartz acknowledged that the “contributor op-ed” was written by “David Rivkin, Jr. and Lee Casey, lawyers who served in the White House and Justice Department under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.” These people aren’t lightweights, and their advocacy for “a blanket presidential pardon to anyone involved in supposed collusion with Russia or Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign, to anyone involved with Russian acquisition of an American uranium company during the Obama administration, and to anyone for any offense that has been investigated by Mr. Mueller’s office” in favor of investigations by Congress” arguably gives a lot of people associated with the second and third items a free pass they don’t deserve.
  • In Jason Schwartz’s warped world, that infamous, bogus Trump-Russia dossier funded by the Hillary campaign and the DNC is only a “conservative talking point.” No, Jason. It’s been reported as a fact by one of the left’s leading news outlets.
  • Whether Schwartz likes is or not, conceding, as he apparently has, that the Clinton campaign and the DNC funded the dossier compiled by Fusion GPS as a result of Christopher Steele’s assemblage of information from Russian operatives means that, through intermediaries, there was collusion with Russia.

Schwartz’s screed originally contained two serious errors of omission. One of them has since been corrected in a disingenuously labeled “clarification.” A Journal editorial on Tuesday described the errors:

The Press Loves Fusion GPS
Politico fails to disclose that one of our critics works for Fusion.

(Schwartz) quoted Neil King, identifying him as a former WSJ editor who slammed our work and said “I don’t know a single WSJ alum who’s not agog at where that edit page is heading.” Perhaps Mr. King is agog because Axios reported in January that he had joined . . . Fusion GPS.

So Politico quotes an employee of Fusion to attack The Wall Street Journal for criticizing Fusion. Even better, Mr. Schwartz didn’t tell his readers that Mr. King has worked for Fusion. Mr. Schwartz also failed to point out that Mr. King’s wife, Shailagh Murray, also a former Journal reporter, worked in the Obama White House. Perhaps Mr. Schwartz understands that this kind of political incestuousness is so routine in Washington that even to mention it would get him drummed out of the club.

… If reporters want to know why Donald Trump finds too many willing believers for his false anti-media tirades, they might consider the dishonest reporting of the kind practiced here by Politico.

Politico’s posted clarification — “An earlier version of this story failed to mention Neil King’s work for Fusion GPS.” — went up  29 hours after Schwartz’s original time stamp. His wife’s employment, further affecting King’s perceived objectivity, still wasn’t disclosed.

Memo to WSJ’s opinion writers: This “dishonest reporting” and the media Murdoch pile-on demonstrate that at least some of Trump’s anti-media tirades aren’t false

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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