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Tuesday, February 4, 2020
CNS Spins For Trump (Again) Against GAO Ruling

When the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office issued a finding that the Trump administration broke the law by withholding aid to Ukraine last year, it was time for loayl pro-Tump state media outlet to go into spin mode.

An article by Susan Jones, originally headlined "Dems Seize on GAO Report That Trump's OMB Broke the Law by Withholding Ukraine Funds" -- in a flipped verson of the regular complaint of CNS' parent, the Media Research Center, that the "liberal media" allegedly frames stories consiered negative to liberals by how "conservatives pounce" on them -- but later changed to the blander and less biased headline "Pelosi, Pointing to GAO Report, Says Trump 'Broke the Law'," was first up. She rehashed the Trump defense: "Democrats say Trump was using the Ukraine aid as leverage to force political favors from Ukraine's new president, including the announcement of an investigation into Hunter and Joe Biden's Ukraine dealings. That announcement never happened, nor did the investigations."

Jones omitted the fact that an announcement of investigations almost did happen; as an actual news outlet reported, Ukranian president Volodomyr Zelensky was planning to announce them on a CNN show, knowing the aid would not be released until he had done so, but a Politico article exposed how the aid had been held up, forcing the aid to be released without a statement from Zelensky.

Jones also toed the Trump line in parroting the claim that while "Democrats have impeached Trump for abuse of power (allegedly using security aid to force political favors from Ukraine) and obstruction of Congress (refusing to hand over witnesses and documents) ... the articles of impeachment allege no law-breaking by the president."

CNS editor in chief Terry Jeffrey, however, went for the full-on whataboutism distraction, penning a lengthy article about a GAO ruling from more than eight years ago:

The Government Accountability Office concluded in a written opinion published on Oct. 11, 2011 that President Barack Obama’s White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) had violated two laws in its dealings with the People’s Republic of China.

“In the opinion, we determined that OSTP violated a statutory provision prohibiting the agency from using its appropriations for bilateral engagements with China or any Chinese-owned company,” Thomas H. Armstrong, who was then the managing associate general counsel of the GAO, told the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in written testimony on Nov. 2, 2011.

“Because no funds were available for such purpose,” Armstrong testified, “OSTP’s actions also violated the Antideficiency Act, a fiscal statute central to Congress’s power of the purse.”

It's not until the final two paragraphs of his 41-paragraph article that Jeffrey got around to mentioning the GAO ruling against Trump.

Jeffrey didn't explain why, if this story was so important and newsworthy, he waited eight-plus years to tell his readers about it. Perhaps because it was suddenly newsworthy only as a way to divert attention from Trump's behavior.

The Trump White House couldn't be getting more favorable coverage from CNS if they paid for it. One may wonder if that is indeed the case.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:00 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, February 4, 2020 7:44 PM EST

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