The mainstream media isn’t known for self-awareness. And those in the MSM who report on media are typically as lacking in this regard as their brethren.
Thus, it surprised me that the quotation in the headline (paper edition) of this post comes from Paul Farhi, who writes about media for the Washington Post. Farhi’s article is unsparing. If he were a pro-Trumper, he might be accused of spiking the football.
Farhi sets the tone right away:
And now comes the reckoning for the mainstream news media and the pundits.
After more than two years of intense reporting and endless talking-head speculation about possible collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian agents in 2016, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III put a huge spike in all of it on Sunday. Attorney General William P. Barr relayed Mueller’s key findings in a four-page summary of the 22-month investigation: The evidence was insufficient to conclude that Trump or his associates conspired with Russians to interfere in the campaign.
Barr’s announcement was a thunderclap to mainstream news outlets and the cadre of mostly liberal-leaning commentators who have spent months emphasizing the possible-collusion narrative in opinion columns and cable TV panel discussions.
I love it.
Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone goes even further:
“Nobody wants to hear this, but news that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is headed home without issuing new charges is a death-blow for the reputation of the American news media,” Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi wrote in a column published Saturday, a day before Barr nailed the collusion coffin shut. He added: “Nothing Trump is accused of from now on by the press will be believed by huge chunks of the population.”
Glenn Greenwald also weighs in:
Journalist and commentator Glenn Greenwald — a longtime skeptic of the collusion angle — tweeted his contempt for the media coverage on Sunday, too: “Check every MSNBC personality, CNN law ‘expert,’ liberal-centrist outlets and #Resistance scam artist and see if you see even an iota of self-reflection, humility or admission of massive error.”
He added: “While standard liberal outlets obediently said whatever they were told by the CIA & FBI, many reporters at right-wing media outlets which are routinely mocked by super-smart liberals as primitive & propagandistic did relentlessly great digging & reporting.”
Greenwald reserved special vitriol for MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, who he said “went on the air for 2 straight years & fed millions of people conspiratorial garbage & benefited greatly.”
Farhi tells us: “An MSNBC representative declined to comment Sunday; CNN’s representatives did not respond.”
Longtime Power Line target Jonathan Chait gets called out too:
Among the theories commentators advanced was one by New York magazine writer Jonathan Chait, who speculated in a cover story in July about whether “the dark crevices of the Russia scandal run not just a little deeper but a lot deeper.” He suggested that “it would be dangerous not to consider the possibility that the [then-upcoming] summit [between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin] is less a negotiation between two heads of state than a meeting between a Russian-intelligence asset and his handler.”
Chait is standing by his article.
In a reversal of standard Washington Post practice, Farhi waits until the back-end paragraphs to present the left-liberal side of the story. It consists mainly of Dean Baquet, top editor at the New York Times, explaining why he’s “comfortable with our coverage” of the fake collusion story.
What else is he going to say?
Farhi gives the last word to Tim Graham of the conservative Media Research Center:
[T]he conclusion of the [Mueller] inquiry has put a question once hazily debated into sharp focus: Did the mainstream news media mislead?
“Liberal journalists expected Mueller to build a case for scandalous collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government,” said Tim Graham, director of media analysis for the conservative Media Research Center. Noting Mueller’s broad findings, he said, “So now it’s apparent the news channels merely channeled their wishful thinking. They had a grand denouement in mind, and it didn’t happen. They mocked Trump for saying ‘no collusion,’ and that ended up being the truth. . . . The voters should feel punked, swindled.”
I doubt that self-awareness of the kind Farhi shows here will last long. The mainstream media will soon shrug off its scandalous treatment of Russia “collusion,” which after all did succeed in disrupting the Trump presidency, and move on to the next line of attack.
But the public’s awareness that the MSM “punked” and “swindled” it will last. President Trump didn’t just repeatedly say “no collusion.” More ominously for the MSM, he repeatedly said “fake news media.”
The Mueller report has vindicated him on both counts.