According to New York Times media reporter and columnist Jim Rutenberg, only the right side of the media aisle is trying to make news, while the dominant mainstream side (including his newpspaer) is as fair and objective as can be. Rutenberg launched another attack on Rupert Murdoch’s media empire for failing to ignore Russia-related controversies on the Democrat side of the aisle in his Wednesday column, “Closing Ranks, Murdoch Empire Sows Doubts on Russia Inquiry.” He also let CNN, which has gotten many anti-Trump stories wrong, praise itself for working in the public interest.
It’s the latest piece suggesting Rutenberg is not a fan of investigative reporting -- at least when it risks hurting Hillary Clinton.
Rutenberg opened with an odd flashback to the media failures that transpired on Election Night 2000.
The networks were on the hot seat because their election-night coverage had contributed to the chaos of that shambolic evening. They declared Al Gore the winner in Florida before all of the state’s polls were closed -- and then they called it for George W. Bush, although the results remained in doubt for weeks.
Look at us now. As the country grapples with a still more serious affront to American democracy, the agreement on the basic facts in the mainstream news media does not extend to Rupert Murdoch’s media empire and other important parts of the conservative media.
This is the case even as the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III bears down in his investigation of the alleged Russian efforts to sway the 2016 presidential election.
As Mr. Mueller and his team home in on people connected to President Trump, including his former campaign manager Paul Manafort, the president and his allies in the conservative media sphere are pointing at the Democrats and Hillary Clinton.
Or, alternatively, “Hillary Clinton’s allies in the mainstream media are ignoring her ties to Russia.”
Rutenberg made an aside about tech companies lack of accountability on Facebook, Twitter and Google, though suggestions they swung the election are at best severely overblown in context of all the social media messages during the campaign, as Stephen Dinan pointed out in the Washington Times: “Russian-backed mischief-makers and disinformation accounts were a tiny fraction of the online conversation leading up to last year’s presidential election, and most of their efforts sowed discord over hot-button issues such as immigration and guns rather than attacking specific candidates, top social media executives told Congress on Tuesday.”
The opacity of the tech companies was matched by the efforts of some conservative media outlets to confuse and distract.
Rutenberg questioned the news value of Fusion GPS, employed by the Clinton campaign, which gathered unsubstantiated anti-Trump smears.
In the days leading up to the indictment of Mr. Manafort and his lobbying partner Rick Gates, they saw fit to question Mr. Mueller’s legitimacy. They did so while arguing that the real focus should be on Mrs. Clinton, the Democrats and a political research firm that commissioned the gathering of information on Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia, Fusion GPS.
To make his case that the Murdoch empire was being irresponsible, he cited opinion pieces: one columnist at the New York Post and a Wall Street Journal editorial both calling for Robert Mueller, Obama’s FBI director, to resign as special counsel investigating Russian efforts to influence the presidential election.
....Michael Goodwin called for Mr. Mueller’s resignation, citing Fusion GPS as well as Mr. Mueller’s previous job as an F.B.I. director under President Barack Obama, given that, in Mr. Goodwin’s view, so much of the investigative focus must now fall on Mr. Obama’s administration.
Foreshadowing Mr. Goodwin’s dubious argument was an editorial in the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal, which declared that Mr. Mueller “lacks the critical distance” to look into the allegation that “Democrats paid for Russians to compile wild allegations about a U.S. presidential candidate.”...
Rutenberg didn’t see any immediate smoking guns, so he shrugged the controversy off as lacking evidence (and suggested searching for it was a pointless endeavor).
And while skepticism is a virtue in all journalistic endeavors, there is no evidence to support the assertion that the Democrats hired Fusion GPS with the purpose of getting Russians to spread “wild allegations” about Mr. Trump.
The collective coverage from The Journal editorial page, The New York Post and Fox News -- not including the straight-ahead coverage by the likes of Shepard Smith and Bret Baier -- was testament to the Murdoch empire’s ability to make its own journalistic weather.
This from a paper that has tried to make amnesty for illegal aliens, campaign finance reform, and fighting global warming urgent national priorities.
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In a day where the left is marching for separatist identity politics and protesting the American flag, Rutenberg somehow blames conservative media for the current lack of national unity.
Between the promotion of alternative narratives and the way the social media platforms have been so slow in describing their inadvertent hosting of the Russian effort, there’s a striking lack of national unity over what appears to have been a foreign incursion in an American election. So you have to wonder how the country will ever come together to do something about it.
Rutenberg ended by patting CNN on the back for thinking in the public interest.
On Tuesday, I called Tom Johnson, the former CNN chairman, who was one of the executives who appeared on Capitol Hill to testify in 2001. He said some colleagues had some qualms appearing before Congress, given the First Amendment implications. But he told me that he had felt it was the right thing to do.
“I still think we have the very highest public responsibility to make sure we get it right and, when we don’t get it right, that we try to determine what went wrong and what we can do about it,” he said. “It really gets down to operating in the public interest.”
Oh, yeah, that.
So was CNN “operating in the public interest” when they were constantly putting out fake news about Trump’s “collusion” with Russia and the state of James Comey’s investigation?