As new details emerge about the Obama administration’s broad spying-and-leaking campaign against the incoming Trump administration, reporters have a choice to make about whether to cover this story honestly, at long last. There is a brief window of time afforded the media to get the story right. They should take advantage of it.
Journalist Lee Smith already noted the seriousness of the problem facing legacy media after the implosion of the Russia collusion conspiracy theory they peddled. “Americans still want and need accurate information on which to base their decisions about their own lives and the path that the country should take. But neither the legacy media nor the expert class it sustains is likely to survive the post-dossier era in any recognizable form,” he wrote. “For them, Russiagate is an extinction level event.”
Many of our supposedly smart media elites are dinosaurs who are completely unaware of the asteroid headed right to them. Instead, they are doing their part in an all-hands-on-deck effort to continue pushing out Democratic talking points that got them into the mess. This week, that meant they regurgitated the Democratic claim that the Obama administration’s spying and leaking was “normal” and that to be concerned about it is nothing more than a “distraction.”
The Media Are in Too Deep
The less deft at pushing out the partisan talking point include MSNBC’s Brian Williams, who literally asked implicated former CIA chief John Brennan if he could “once and for all” explain to people who had heard about the scandal despite his corporation’s best efforts why it was no big deal. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo complained that a biased NBC News piece that itself attempted to wave away the scandal was not biased enough for his liking. The Daily Beast’s Sam Stein begged Axios not to cover the issue lest it help Trump, in the way that covering Hillary Clinton’s email scandal may have helped Trump.
Susan Glasser at the New Yorker suggested that acknowledging the Obama administration’s recorded attempts to undermine a duly elected administration through spying and leaking was a form of political agitprop. Her husband Peter Baker over at the New York Times took the same line but went with the authoritative gaslighting approach in which he suggested it was odd that Trump would want to correct the false narrative that he was a traitor to his country and replace it with the truth that he was the victim of a coordinated attack to spy on his campaign, criminally leak against him, and force him out of office. CNN’s Jake Tapper, a journalist implicated in one of the early Russia hoax stories, reported for duty to spread this partisan talking point as well.