MRC’s Tim Graham: ‘Shameless’ NYT Showed Zero ‘Standards’ in False Comey Story

Reacting on Friday to the Comey hearing from Thursday, the Media Research Center’s Tim Graham and FBN’s After the Bell co-host Melissa Francis lambasted both The New York Times for a dubious story about Trump associates speaking to Russian intelligence and Jim Comey for his multi-layered media operation leaking information to The Times.

“No longer just reporting the news. The mainstream media becoming part of the story during James Comey's hearing, the former FBI director calling some reports nonsense and denouncing a New York Times story from earlier this year,” Francis explained in the segment’s intro.

Speaking in terms of the behavior by both Comey and the liberal paper, Graham minced no words:

[B]oth sides look a little silly, which is they all have an objective here. Comey had an objective, which was to ruin Trump. New York Times has an objective, which is to ruin Trump. So they figure out how to do it, but yeah, you get to the point now where they end up saying, well, somebody doesn't know what the other guy is saying. 

Graham noted that The Times exerted little effort to cover their rears on Friday following Comey’s denouncement of a story about claims Trump officials communicated with Russian intelligence, instead “wandering around blindly for a whole column, saying we don't know what he’s talking about.”

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“What your readers want, what the American public deserves is for you to actually get the story right, not just to say the objective of our story is ruin Trump and accuracy comes down the list five or six,” Graham added.

When asked by Francis why Comey couldn’t give his notes about his Trump meetings to The Times instead of have a friend do it, Graham responded:

This is the way that the senior officials of the U.S. government, current and former wage war and this is — and New York Times and Washington Post and CNN, every other anti-Trump media outlet is perfectly willing to accept all these conditions all these games, all this I'm going to send it through my law professor buddy — you know, gamesmanship. Nobody has to be honest. Nobody has to be transparent because politics is the only objective! 

Francis also pointed out that this problem shouldn’t be “a left or right thing” because of its seriousness when it comes to journalism’s credibility, Graham noted that it’s important and “what we're trying to do at NewsBusters.”

“This is what a lot of people in conservative media are doing in the era of Trump I saying they're shameless. They don't have any standards of behavior and they should be judged by whether their stories are accurate,” Graham concluded.

Here’s the transcript of Graham’s appearance on FBN’s After the Bell from June 9:

FBN’s After the Bell
June 9, 2017
4:52 p.m. Eastern

MELISSA FRANCIS: No longer just reporting the news. The mainstream media becoming part of the story during James Comey's hearing, the former FBI director calling some reports nonsense and denouncing a New York Times story from earlier this year. 

REPUBLICAN SENATOR JIM RISCH (ID.) [on 06/08/17]: So again, so the American people can understand this, that report by The New York Times was not true, is that a fair statement? 

JIM COMEY [on 06/08/17]: Yeah, in the main it was not true. [SCREEN WIPE] People talking about it, often don't really know what's going on and those of us who actually know what is going on are not talking about it and we don't call the press to say, hey, you got that thing wrong about the sensitive topic. We just have to leave it there. 

FRANCIS: Here now is Tim Graham, Media Research Center for director of media analysis. Okay, this is what is driving me bananas. He said that in one breadth, that, you know, the people who know don't talk and the people who talk don’t know. And then, in very next breath, he said took notes and leaked them to The New York Times and wherever else so that he could incite an investigation and he did it through someone else, hiding his identity, so which one is it? Do the people who know talk and leak or do the people who know not talk? I mean, help me out here. 

TIM GRAHAM: Well, you're right, both sides look a little silly, which is they all have an objective here. Comey had an objective, which was to ruin Trump. New York Times has an objective, which is to ruin Trump. So they figure out how to do it, but yeah, you get to the point now where they end up saying, well, somebody doesn't know what the other guy is saying. The story in The New York Times today about Comey saying that their story was inaccurate was like wandering around blindly for a whole column, saying we don't know what he’s talking about. Every other anonymous source we ever used says it is solid. Look. Call him up! What your readers want, what the American public deserves is for you to actually get the story right, not just to say the objective of our story is ruin Trump and accuracy comes down the list five or six. 

FRANCIS: Also justification. He said he can't call them up and tell them that the story is wrong and correct the record, because that’s not the right thing to do but then, at the same time, he can leak a memo to them to incite an investigation. You know, they said why didn't you just call for an investigation? Or why did you just — if you wanted memos out because you thought something was wrong, rather than leaking them through someone else at The New York Times, why not raise a hand and make a phone call and say, I have these notes, you guys should look into it? Why not be straightforward about it? Why was it necessary for him to hide what he was doing and hide his identity? 

GRAHAM: This is the way that the senior officials of the U.S. government, current and former wage war and this is — and New York Times and Washington Post and CNN, every other anti-Trump media outlet is perfectly willing to accept all these conditions all these games, all this I'm going to send it through my law professor buddy — you know, gamesmanship. Nobody has to be honest. Nobody has to be transparent because politics is the only objective! 

FRANCIS: So I would say that probably you know, I don't think it's a left or right thing. I think probably everybody is guilty on every side and when you get something, but the price — so, as a reporter, the price of printing something that is somebody else's vendetta, that isn't vetted and using an anonymous source is that you go out there say sources told me this and people follow it, then ends up not being true, your credibility is supposed to be shot. Like, that’s what the price is. I know, as a reporter, when I was covering oil beat and people would feed me things, hoping to maybe influence price of oil or something, you always knew it was your credibility on the line if you fell victim to shenanigans. So isn't that the problem with The New York Times and everybody else? What is the punishment when CNN said that, you know, Comey would step out there and say Trump did not ever, that he didn't tell Trump that he was not the target of an investigation, your credibility is supposed to be gone. Does that exist any longer? 

GRAHAM: No. I mean, it does. This is what we're trying to do at NewsBusters. This is what a lot of people in conservative media are doing in the era of Trump I saying they're shameless. They don't have any standards of behavior and they should be judged by whether their stories are accurate. 

FRANCIS: We'll see. Thanks for coming on. We appreciate your time. We got a break here.

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