ABC’s live coverage team was quick to come to Robert Mueller’s defense after his first fumbling testimony before the House Judiciary Committee this morning was roundly criticized by media on both sides of the aisle. ABC characterized Mueller’s confused and evasive performance as simply the former Special Counsel being apolitical and “sticking to the facts.”
During the hearing, several Republican congressmen effectively cornered Mueller about the partisan nature of his investigation into the Trump campaign colluding with Russia. Yet ABC was convinced Mueller had the upper hand.
Anchor George Stephanopoulos and correspondent Terry Moran imagined Mueller as a movie star from another era who was above such partisan nonsense. Moran lauded Mueller for “sticking to the facts:”
STEPHANOPOULOS: It did appear he was a man perhaps of another time playing by completely different rules than the Democrats on the committee or the Republicans on the committee.
TERRY MORAN: That's a great point. It's like he's one of those stars from a black and white movie, walked into a 3D color movie, it's a completely different world he's operating in. One in which he stays to his lane, he's not going to be used by anybody in the process. He's absolutely determined to stick to the facts.
Senior Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas also lauded Mueller as above the fray and unwilling to “play politics:”
[H]is strategy was to stay within the confines of the report. And as my colleagues have said, he was not going to stray from that. He is a person of a different era. He's a person unconcerned with his public demeanor, if you will. One person I just spoke to a few minutes ago, who worked with him a long tie, said it was a difficult position simply because Mueller was not going to go and play politics either way. Just was not going to do it.
The journalists kept ludicrously characterizing Mueller as an apolitical player, ignoring all the anti-Trump controversies attached to his investigation.
Stephanopoulos touted, “He would never jump to the conclusion that either side was leading him to, even if it was following the logic train that was being laid out by the member of Congress.”
Correspondent Cecilia Vega agreed: “He wasn't going to bite. No matter which side was asking, he was not going to bite.”
While Moran did acknowledge that Mueller wasn’t as effective a public speaker as he once was, Vega blamed this criticism on the right:
“To your point, much is being made about his response, his slow reflexes if you will, particularly in some conservative media who are calling him not just “low energy” but one of them, the Drudge Report headline is 'dazed and confused’,” she noted. Actually, Mueller’s trainwreck testimony was slammed by many journalists on the left as well, from the New York Times to NBC, to MSNBC, to CNN.
The segment was then cut short by local news coverage.