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The mainstream media spent years fixated on alleged collusion between Donald Trump and Russia but have largely downplayed or otherwise ignored the court filing from Special Counsel John Durham as part of his investigation into the origins of the sprawling Russia probe.
“The traditional media is more interested in whisper campaigns and rumors than filings from U.S. attorneys,” former chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz told Fox News Digital.
“If they got it wrong, and they did, then cover the truth with the same vigor,” Chaffetz continued. “It seems some media outlets were so interested in perpetuating a lie they can’t now say they were wrong.”
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The Media Research Center found that ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts alone spent a whopping 2,634 minutes covering the investigations into alleged Russia collusion through July 20, 2019. “That’s nearly one-fifth (19.5%) of all of these broadcasts’ Trump coverage, a huge shadow on his presidency,” analyst Rich Noyes wrote.
The heavy-handed coverage from ABC, CBS and NBC was in addition to the dedicated airtime from both CNN and MSNBC, which focused relentlessly on the investigation’s developments. The New York Times and Washington Post even shared the Pulitzer Prize for in 2018 “for deeply sourced, relentlessly reported coverage” of alleged Russian interference.
A court filing made late Friday by Durham, who was appointed during the Trump administration to investigate the origins of the Russia probe, revealed that a tech firm mined internet data from Trump Tower during the 2016 election and later the White House in order to “establish ‘an inference’ and ‘narrative’ tying then-candidate Trump to Russia” and that, “In doing so, Tech Executive-1 indicated that he was seeking to please certain ‘VIPs,’ referring to individuals at Law Firm-1 and the Clinton campaign.”
Durham’s filing hasn’t received the same frenzied coverage and critics have taken notice. Nor have other indictments that further discredited the Christopher Steele dossier alleging Trump-Russia collusion.
“The networks and major papers avoided touching this news like Durham was a leper,” NewsBusters executive editor Tim Graham wrote.
Sen. Ted Cruz scolded the press for failing to cover the story.
“The corrupt corporate media is trying to ignore it & hide the truth,” Cruz tweeted.
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MSNBC, which made the Russian investigation the most dominant topic on the network for years under President Trump, completely ignored the revelations Durham made in the court filing late Friday night through Monday. “Morning Joe” finally addressed it on Tuesday but mocked Durham in the process.
CNN dedicated less than three minutes to the subject during the same period with only one mention on Monday’s installment of “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”
None of MSNBC nor CNN’s primetime shows, typically regarded as the most-watched programming on the networks, touched the subject through Monday.
ABC, CBS and NBC similarly made no mention of the new developments on their morning and evening newscasts through Monday, though NBC News published a report online on Monday night.
The New York Times skipped running a report and went with a “news analysis,” slamming “right-wing outlets” for pushing a narrative that is “off track.”
Like the Times, Washington Post initially refrained from publishing a report on the matter but rather an “analysis” piece attempting to downplay the significance of the court filing, framing it with the headline, “Why Trump is once again claiming that he was spied upon in 2016,” and telling readers, “Durham’s filing ties the campaign to Sussman [sic] and Sussman [sic] to the executive, but it’s not explicitly argued that the probe flowed down from Clinton’s team — or up to it.” It has since posted other opinion pieces on the matter, as well as a fact-check again rejecting Trump’s claim of being spied on.
Other outlets including Associated Press, Reuters, USA Today, Axios, NPR and The Daily Beast all avoided the subject through Monday, according to search results.
The MRC put together a montage of previous coverage dismissing allegations of wrongdoing during the Russia probe:
The recent Durham probe developments stem from the indictment of former Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann, who’s been accused of lying to the FBI when claiming he wasn’t working on behalf of the Democratic nominee when he approached the DOJ pushing a Russian collusion narrative between Trump Tower and a Kremlin-linked bank.
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Andy McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and Fox News contributor, feels it’s important to maintain perspective but said it’s “breathtaking” to watch the media downplay the filing.
“For all the strident claims about how the Clinton campaign pushed the government’s law-enforcement and intelligence apparatus into spying on President Trump, Special Counsel Durham has thus far charged no crimes along those lines. The indictment of Democratic Party lawyer Michael Sussmann merely alleges that he lied to the FBI to conceal that he was working for the Clinton campaign and tech executive Rodney Joffe,” McCarthy told Fox News Digital.
“That said, though, it is just breathtaking to watch the media-Democrat complex, which hyped Robert Mueller’s every move in the bogus Trump-Russia ‘collusion’ caper, suddenly develop laryngitis in the matter of Durham’s probe — that is, when it is not outright hostile,” McCarthy said. “You would almost be convinced that journalists do not want a close examination of what thin gruel they turned into a three-year scandal, seeking to destroy the Trump administration’s capacity to govern.”
Sussmann has pleaded not guilty.
Former President Trump reacted to the filing on Saturday evening, saying Durham’s filing “provides indisputable evidence that my campaign and presidency were spied on by operatives paid by the Hillary Clinton Campaign in an effort to develop a completely fabricated connection to Russia.”
The Durham investigation has “accelerated” and more people are “cooperating” and coming before the federal grand jury than has previously been reported, a source familiar with the probe told Fox News.
It remains to be seen if the mainstream media will pay attention to further developments, but the lack of coverage has surprised even seasoned observers.
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“It’s absolutely stunning that virtually all the major newspapers and the other networks are absolutely determined to ignore this story,” Fox News’ Howie Kurtz said Monday.
“They cover every throat clearing by the January 6 committee and all the coverage of Russiagate… but this is an actual federal prosecutor delivering actual evidence in a court filing, not some anonymously sourced story,” Kurtz said. “Yet, these other places are just magically declaring it to be non-news.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.