CNN and MSNBC's audiences heard repeated assertions on Wednesday that Special Counsel Mueller’s public briefing was “basically” a call for President Trump’s impeachment or prosecution. Rather than simply relaying what Mueller had actually said, cable hosts meticulously picked apart and psychoanalyzed his words to divine what the Special Counsel “really” meant: that the President was “a criminal” who ought to be impeached immediately.
Wednesday’s coverage resembled a series of English literature classes, with journalists reading passages from Mueller’s briefing and taking turns speculating about their deeper meaning. Watch the video below for some of the hottest takes cable news had to offer:
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes assured viewers of his 8:00 pm ET show: “Reading between the lines, Mueller came before the American people today and said, ‘Look, the President is a criminal, and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.’”
CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger, meanwhile, keenly discerned that the Mueller team had wanted desperately to charge the President with obstruction, but could not do so: “If you read between the lines, he made it completely clear that if they could’ve done it, they would’ve done it.”
Talking heads leaned heavily on terms like “basically” or “essentially” in order to allege that Mueller had leveled accusations at the President which he hadn’t actually voiced:
According to CNN host Brianna Keilar: “Essentially, Mueller told the country that the President is not innocent,” (CNN Right Now, 1pm ET).
MSNBC national affairs analyst John Heilemann’s elfin ears detected Mueller’s silent appeal for the House of Representatives to impeach the President: “He basically is saying, ‘Congress, please, by God, do your work,’” (Deadline: White House, 4pm ET).
The crystal ball entrusted to CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash picked up a similar image of Mueller “effectively saying, ‘Okay, go for it!’” (At This Hour, 11am ET).
Cable personalities addressed the vagaries in Mueller’s speech by wringing hours of wild speculation out of a nine-minute statement. Viewers tuning into cable news for context on Wednesday were presented instead with opinion journalism repackaged as fact, under the pretense that it was what Mueller had “basically” said – or at least “meant” to say.