Oof. Well, that didn’t work out so well.
When Donald Trump shocked America and the world by defeating Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, the humiliated two-time loser decided to push one excuse, and one excuse only: Trump must have stolen the election, somehow, some way.
The former secretary of state knew full well that President Obama and his cronies in the intelligence community had been wiretapping Trump campaign officials for months, under the guise of probing possible Russian collusion. So rather than admit the obvious — that she ran a terrible campaign and that Americans preferred a narcissistic reality TV host and boastful billionaire over her — she blamed that old standby, the Russians.
The lapdogs in the liberal media lapped it up, then yapped away like angry little shih tzus demanding walkies. “ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts produced a combined 2,284 minutes of ‘collusion’ coverage,” Newsbusters reported. “That’s an average of roughly three minutes a night, every night, for an astonishing 791 days.”
The mainstream media went hard at President Trump. “The noose is tightening,” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said. “Does the public understand just how much trouble the president is in? If not, that is a failing of the press,” CNN’s Brian Stelter said condescendingly. “There is tons of proof of potential collusion,” CNN’s Chris Cuomo said.
The alleged conspiracy was investigated for 675 days by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and a team of 19 lawyers. Despite 2,800 subpoenas and 500 witness interviews, the counsel’s office found no evidence “that any U.S. person or Trumpcampaign official or associate” conspired or “knowingly coordinated” with Russians during the 2016 campaign.
One would expect some soul-searching by the media, which got so much wrong for so long. The great journalist Terry Moran, ABC’s senior national correspondent, said in early March that should the Mueller report clear the president, that would bring a “reckoning for the media.”
But just like the allegations of Russian collusion, that didn’t happen, either.
CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker said in an email to The New York Times that he was “entirely comfortable” with CNN’s Trump-Russia coverage, adding that the “news” network was simply reporting “facts.”
“We are not investigators. We are journalists, and our role is to report the facts as we know them, which is exactly what we did,” Zucker said.
CNN’s Stelter had an even more laughable line. After pushing the collusion canard for more than two years, he said: “There is a giant difference between asking and telling. … But speculation actually has value, too. It helps open our eyes, helps open our minds to what’s possible.”
“Speculation actually has value too.”
In the days since the Mueller report’s clear conclusions that no collusion occurred, the media has offered no apology — or even an excuse, for that matter — for getting the story so wrong for so long. America’s mainstream media so wanted the story to be true that they simply did away with the need for evidence, proof, you know, facts.
And that dereliction of duty has, once again, proven Trump right about his take on most media in America. “The Mainstream Media is under fire and being scorned all over the World as being corrupt and FAKE,” the president tweeted Monday. “For two years they pushed the Russian Collusion Delusion when they always knew there was No Collusion. They truly are the Enemy of the People and the Real Opposition Party!”
This is all a disaster for America’s Fourth Estate, especially heading into the 2020 elections. The mainstream media has now been proven — repeatedly, in fact — to be anti-Trump. Even the so-called bulwarks of journalism, The New York Times and The Washington Post, have a clear agenda: Oust Trump at any cost, damn the facts.
Eric Trump, the president’s son who does not say much, summed up the next move for the media. “How about a simple apology from the #MSM for the hell everyone has been put through for the past two + years? @CNN @MSNBC @NBCNews @ABC @CBS @nytimes @washingtonpost,” he tweeted.
Of course, that won’t happen. And it might be too late, anyway.
America’s media is now severely damaged. How it salvages its seedy reputation is as yet unknown. But refusing to simply apologize for years of erroneous reporting is not a good sign.
They are now, in a phrase, nothing more than “fake news.”
*Joseph Curl ran the Drudge Report from 2010 to 2015 and covered the White House for a dozen years. He can be can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter at @JosephCurl. A version of this article ran previously in The Washington Times.