Fake News Anchor Whines Trump’s Hurting ‘Institutions,’ Russia Is Distracting from EPA Story

Pot, meet kettle. On Tuesday’s 11th Hour, MSNBC’s serial liar Brian Williams complained that President Donald Trump was “diminish[ing] our institutions” by touting Fox News and turning attention away from the litany of Russia investigations. As if he and the media aren’t in control of the news agenda, he also bemoaned the lack of coverage on Trump’s environmental policies. 

After spending a few minutes summarizing news about former Justice Department official Sally Yates and the House Intelligence Committee, Williams became unglued when highlighting a Trump tweet.

Williams whined:

The leader of the free world was back on Twitter tonight. Another version of nothing to see here on the Russia story, another attempt actually to diminish our institutions, promote Fox News, and deflect the attention to the Clintons: “Why don't Fake News talk about Podesta ties to Russia as covered by @FoxNews or money from Russia to Clinton — sale of uranium?”

Timeout, folks, because there’s a number of questions to ask here. First of all, what institutions was Williams talking about? Isn’t the Trump administration the government now? If not, then surely Williams was referring to some socialist state or the federal government when it’s not run by Republicans. 

The other matter is who’s actually undermining American institutions? Isn’t fair to say that Brian Williams’s tale tales did horrendous damage to the media’s credibility?

Moving on, Williams stepped in it when he openly complained that these Russia investigations suddenly were applicable to “the shiny object rule which means that there’s a distraction in the air to keep us away from the story.”

What story would Williams be suggesting deserves more attention? Turns out, Russia “kept us away from a very serious story at the EPA” and “[t]he President's signing ceremony today and this deserves more than a mention by us tonight.”

Williams parroted the disdain shown hours earlier on CNN and MSNBC:

But what he signed today, executive order that nullifies Obama's climate change efforts and revives the coal industry. Another note about that in a moment. But the U.S. will not meet Obama-era CO2 guidelines quote “turning denials of climate change into national policy” This network pointed out all day the coal industry employs roughly 70,000 individuals right now. Hard to ramp that up in a way given the fuel source, but this was real substantive news for our children and our children's children today at EPA.

Politico correspondent Michael Crowley was happy to oblige, leaving any objectivity behind, ruling that “there’s nothing more important than the fate of the climate and the planet and it is the case for better and worse I guess from the Trump administration that this Russia story is clouding everything else out.”

Crowley’s nonsense pretending the media have been powerless from stopping this dragged on:

I mean, I think Trump is doing some things that are not popular nationally that are not getting the attention that they would. They might be generating more outrage. Of course, it's also blocking out the parts of his agenda he wants to showcase and also, you know, beyond the way this kind of defies the science of climate change that’s been well established. it also further isolates the United States. 

He concluded by sucking up to Williams, telling him he’s “really glad you brought it up, Brian, because it deserves more prominence than it's getting partly because of the antics around the Russia investigation.”    

Thankfully, Charlie Sykes took time away from being the token right-of-center guest who agrees with his liberal colleagues on everything to push back on these praises for Obama’s environment moves in the last eight years: 

[L]ook, the concerns about climate change are legitimate, but also the concerns about the jobs and about the economy are also legitimate. Remember when President Obama said his plan for cap and trade would cause electricity rates to necessarily skyrocket? Couldn't get it through so he did it by executive order. In my home state of Wisconsin, 60 percent of our electricity is generated by coal powered plants. This rule was like a dagger aimed at the heart of the manufacturing base of the stat. The state public service commission estimated this rule could cost rate payers, people who pay electricity bills, as much as $13 billion. So this is part of the balancing act here[.]

Going back to Williams and Crowley, this wallowing in an inability to cover stories because of Russia has a slew of problems. Chief among these issues is what’s stopping any outlet from devoting more attention to the environment than Russia? If you say it’s important, just do it. 

For anyone who’s suffered through media courses in college, liberal professors discuss all sorts of media theories, including the agenda-setting theory. Put forth by McCombs and Shaw in 1972, agenda-setting boils down to the notion that the media determines what’s important and thus influences readers/viewers by telling them what to think about.

With that in mind (albeit a theory coming from liberal academia), the media has played a significant role in what’s covered/not covered at a given moment and to suggest they’re powerless to not cover something is patently absurd.

Here’s the relevant portions of the transcript from MSNBC’s The 11th Hour with Brian Williams on March 28:

MSNBC’s The 11th Hour with Brian Williams
March 28, 2017
11:04 p.m. Eastern

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Today's open hearing was postponed by Chairman Nunes, along with a closed hearing with FBI Director Comey, NSA Director Rogers and today, The Washington Post reported that the Trump administration was in fact seeking to block Sally Yates from testifying on Russia at all. The Post report details the back and forth through both letters and meetings between the Justice Department and Yates' own attorneys. The DOJ reportedly considers, quote, “her public testimony — including on the firing of former national security adviser Michael Flynn for his contacts with the Russian ambassador — to be off-limits in a congressional hearing because the topics are covered by attorney-client privilege or the presidential communication privilege.” Critical wording there. Yates and her attorneys argued that the administration waved any privilege because of past White House statements and pledged she would testify unless they heard back from the White House. In other words, Yates wanted to know if the White House was bluffing or serious. In the briefing room today, Sean Spicer responded to this story. 

SEAN SPICER: I hope she testifies. I look forward to it. It was never — let's be honest. The hearing was never — was actually never notified. If they choose to move forward, great, we have no problem with her testifying, plain and simple. The report in The Washington Post is 100 percent false. [SCREEN WIPE] But to suggest in any way, shape, or form that we stood in the way of that is 100% false. 

WILLIAMS: This is where it comes back to Chairman Nunes. He is the one who cancelled the hearing where we would have heard from Sally Yates and he did so before the administration would have been forced to somehow forbid her testimony. The leader of the free world was back on Twitter tonight. Another version of nothing to see here on the Russia story, another attempt actually to diminish our institutions, promote Fox News, and deflect the attention to the Clintons: “Why don't Fake News talk about Podesta ties to Russia as covered by @FoxNews or money from Russia to Clinton — sale of uranium?”

(....)

WILLIAMS: And Michael, you know I like to invoke the shiny object rule which means that there’s a distraction in the air to keep us away from the story. But today, the Russia argument kept us away from a very serious story at the EPA. The President's signing ceremony today and this deserves more than a mention by us tonight. But what he signed today, executive order that nullifies Obama's climate change efforts and revives the coal industry. Another note about that in a moment. But the U.S. will not meet Obama-era Co2 guidelines quote “turning denials of climate change into national policy” This network pointed out all day the coal industry employs roughly 70,000 individuals right now. Hard to ramp that up in a way given the fuel source, but this was real substantive news for our children and our children's children today at EPA.

MICHAEL CROWLEY: Sure, Brian. I mean, there’s nothing more important than the fate of the climate and the planet and it is the case for better and worse I guess from the Trump administration that this Russia story is clouding everything else out. I mean, I think Trump is doing some things that are not popular nationally that are not getting the attention that they would. They might be generating more outrage. Of course, it's also blocking out the parts of his agenda he wants to showcase and also, you know, beyond the way this kind of defies the science of climate change that’s been well established. it also further isolates the United States. We are now an outlier on one more issue amongst our allies, amongst the industrialized and western world and really, this subject deserves — I'm really glad you brought it up, Brian, because it deserves more prominence than it's getting partly because of the antics around the Russia investigation. 

(....)

CHARLIE SYKES: They are going to be rolling back the administrative state. And I have to say, look, the concerns about climate change are legitimate, but also the concerns about the jobs and about the economy are also legitimate. Remember when President Obama said his plan for cap and trade would cause electricity rates to necessarily skyrocket? Couldn't get it through so he did it by executive order. In my home state of Wisconsin, 60 percent of our electricity is generated by coal powered plants. This rule was like a dagger aimed at the heart of the manufacturing base of the stat. The state public service commission estimated this rule could cost rate payers, people who pay electricity bills, as much as $13 billion. So this is part of the balancing act here, that, yes, we can care about the planet, but don't be indifferent to what this means to middle class, blue collar people, and average middle Americans who are going to have to pay very substantially higher electricity rates. 

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center