Topic: Media Research Center
We've shown how the Media Research Center sought to reinforce a right-wing narrative by obsessively hyping a filing by special counsel John Durham suggesting that Hillary Clinton's campaign was spying on the Trump administration. When non-right-wing media started noticing the story -- and going against right-wing wishes by reporting both sides of it -- the MRC got mad.
Kyle Drennen spent a Feb. 17 post complaining that NBC committted journalism by -- gasp! -- asking for comment from Clinton:
On Thursday, NBC’s Today show finally noticed the bombshell development from Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation that Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign spied on Donald Trump, both as a candidate and as president. However, the Democratic Party shills at the network immediately turned to Hillary Clinton and attorneys for her former campaign aid Michael Sussmann – who has been indicted for lying to the FBI – to try to knock down the explosive story.
As the taped portion of her report began, Jackson incredulously narrated: “It would be explosive if it were true. The allegation a political opponent spied on a sitting president. And that’s exactly what former President Donald Trump and his allies are claiming.”
Following a soundbite of Republican Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan declaring, “It was worse than we thought because they were spying on the sitting President of the United States,” Jackson quickly turned to Hillary Clinton for a supposed fact-check: “But Hillary Clinton now slamming the whole thing as ‘a fake scandal to distract from Mr. Trump’s real ones. So it’s a day that ends in Y,’ she tweeted.”
In other words, NBC has been assured by Hillary Clinton and the legal team for Michael Sussmann that Hillary Clinton and Michael Sussmann have done nothing wrong. How convenient.
Curtis Houck grumbled the same day:
Deadline: White House provided MSNBC late Wednesday afternoon with only the third mention of the bombshell revelation from Special Counsel John Durham on alleged spying against the Trump campaign and early presidency, but they predictably used 16 minutes and 10 seconds to dismiss it as “dangerous disinformation” peddled by “right-wing media.”
Ironically, this came after the first half-hour of the show was spent spinning webs about Donald Trump’s White House visitor logs and January 6 prosecutions. In other words, it begs the question: Do these people ever hear themselves talk?
On Feb. 18, Nicholas Fondacaro took part in this narrative:
On Thursday, NBC Nightly News broke the evening newscast silence regarding the bombshell findings from Special Counsel John Durham showing that a lawyer for the 2016 Clinton campaign was involved with spying on Donald Trump. Not only did they break the network blackout, but they stepped up to the plate and defended both Hillary Clinton and campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann.
“It comes after a new filing dropped from Special Counsel John Durham, who is investigating the origins of the Russia investigation with Clinton's opponents pointing to the filing as proof something nefarious happened,” [correspondent Hallie] Jackson herself scoffed.
Umm, Hallie, Sussmann has been charged with lying to federal agents. So, “something nefarious” seems to have happened. Care to explain why you omitted how the filing also stated that Sussmann was billing the campaign for his work on this actively?
Fondacaro is not going to mention that the matter Sussmann allegedly lied about had nothing to do with what he's supposed to be investigating, and the charge is based on the testimony of a single witness who has made conflicting statements that undermine Durham's charge against Sussmann.
Fondacaro went on to assert that a statement by Sussmann's lawyers that "the data collection ended even before former President Trump took office when Barack Obama was president" meant they "tacitly admitted their client was monitoring Trump" -- but it also disproves the MRC's earlier reporting, which asserted that monitoring was done of "the White House while Donald Trump was President."Fondacaro also nitpicked Jackson's reporting to distract from the nothingburger-ness of Durham's filing:
Jackson also noted that the filing stated that the tech executive who gave Sussmann the information was “‘exploiting his access’ to that White House data to search for ‘derogatory information’ on Mr. Trump.” But according to her, that somehow meant “[t]he court filing does not allege a crime related to hacking. It also doesn't say anything was illegally spied on.”
While Jackson was saying that, she also brought on NBC investigative correspondent Tom Winter to argue that the “[e]-mails couldn't have been read. Text messages couldn't have been read. They couldn't even have seen the content that was on the screens.”
Now notice how Jackson’s shrewd use of the phrase “illegally spied on” is coupled with that argument about reading messages. This is another tacit admission that someone was nefariously monitoring Trump. Essentially, what was going on was a virtual stakeout where Sussmann was receiving reports about what was coming and going from Trump’s digitally.
There’s a conspicuous absence of journalistic curiously [sic] and skepticism from Jackson about what was going on against Trump. It’s also another example of the word games the liberal media play when the facts are not to their liking.
As if Fondacaro isn't playing word games to deflect valid criticism of Durham's filing and the right-wing hype of it.
A Feb. 18 post by Alex Christy noted only in passing that Durham himself "has distanced himself from conservative reaction to his filing" -- which should be evidence enough for the MRC to dial it down a bit -- then complained that MSNBC's Joe Scarborough noted this fact.
Later that day, Fondacaro return to yet again toss the misogynist "cackling coven" smear at the ladies of "The View," going on o whine that they think Clinton has a case to sue Fox News for defamation over false reporting on the Durham filing:
The cackling coven known as The View has been following the lead of ABC News all week and ignoring the filing of Special Counsel John Durham against Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann. But the ladies couldn’t help themselves on Friday after their queen, two-time failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton lash out at Fox News for reporting on the story. The panel cheered her on as they urged her to sue for “defamation.”
They never actually addressed what spurred on the renewed attention directed at Clinton, but co-host Joy Behar suggested it was all cooked up by former President Trump as a “distraction” from his own legal troubles. She claimed Trump was “”
Back here, in reality, Durham found that Sussmann was billing the Clinton campaign for shady work he did teaming up with a tech executive to gather “derogatory information” about Trump by spying on the traffic coming and going from his properties and the White House.
Fondacaro is clearly not going to admit that the original MRC narrative that Hillary was spying on Trump in the White House was false.
Meanwhile, Curtis Houck spent a Feb. 18 post gushing: "NewsNation (formerly WGN) has spent the past year and a half as a genuine, substantive outlet based in professional and unbiased journalism. We saw the latest example this week as, between Monday and Thursday, NewsNation’s evening shows spent 36 minutes and 16 seconds on the bombshell filing from Special Counsel Robert Durham into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe." Houck didn't mention that NewsNation is run and staffed by former Fox News executives and personnel -- chief among them being Bill Shine, who also worked in the Trump White House -- since that would put the lie to his claim that NewsNation offers "professional and unbiased journalism." Still, Houck also laughably complained that NewsNation "treaded close to CNN and NBC territory" by noting the false takes in right-wing media on the filing.
In the MRC's bubble, right-wing narratives can never be criticized as wrong, even if they are.