Even though CBS and NBC had just started to cover revelations that five months worth of text messages from anti-Trump FBI officials had gone missing, on Wednesday morning, correspondents on both networks were already trying to dismiss the story as a “partisan” GOP effort to “undermine” Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Meanwhile, ABC continued to remain silent on the news.
While Tuesday’s CBS This Morning was the first network broadcast to report on the missing messages from FBI officials Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, on Wednesday, correspondent Paula Reid took to the morning show to reject any of the legitimate questions that congressional Republicans were raising on the issue: “As Mueller’s investigation moves along, the campaign to undermine him is also moving full steam ahead.”
After a soundbite ran of Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson warning of “corruption at the highest levels of the FBI,” Reid fretted: “Republicans are seizing on the revelation that the FBI failed to preserve many text messages during a critical five-month period during the Russia investigation.”
She then eagerly touted how “Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr tamped down on any conspiracy theories.” In reality, the North Carolina Republican never suggested anyone was engaging in “conspiracy theories,” he simply responded to a reporter’s question about the matter by noting: “I don’t know that I read anything into it. There may be a technical glitch at the Bureau.”
Reid wrapped up the segment by citing Democratic spin: “Senator Chuck Schumer says the focus on text messages is an attempt to divert the attention away from the Mueller investigation.”
Introducing a report on the missing texts on NBC’s Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie hinted at Republicans using the news to distract from the Russia investigation: “And as the Russia investigation gets closer to the President, he is escalating his fight with the FBI, specifically over some missing text messages between two former members of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team.”
Correspondent Hallie Jackson observed that “the messages have become the latest partisan flashpoint here on Capitol Hill and beyond.” She framed the controversy as nothing more than “the President stepping up his feud with some in the FBI.”
The reporter explained: “For months, two FBI staffers, engaged in an affair, exchanged tens of thousands of texts, including some critical of the President, repeatedly referring to him as an ‘idiot’ for example.” The texts weren’t just “critical of the President,” Page and Strzok actually discussed having an “insurance policy” in case Trump was elected, suggesting they were going to use their positions in federal law enforcement to undermine his administration.
Even after acknowledging that “Strzok was later removed from his position working on Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation,” Jackson claimed that it was “not clear his personal views ever affected his work.”
While mentioning that “Senator Ron Johnson says the text messages may indicate corruption at the highest levels of the FBI,” Jackson was still skeptical: “So are the missing text messages from December 2016 to May 2017 really a bombshell?” She condescendingly remarked: “Some conservatives call it a conspiracy. From the Capitol...to cable news.”
Like Reid, Jackson highlighted liberal talking points brushing the story aside: “Democrats call the GOP attacks desperation.”
ABC’s Good Morning America, on Wednesday, still refused to cover the missing text messages. But even more amazingly, the broadcast still managed to dismiss the story. During a panel discussion about the Russia investigation, co-host George Stephanopoulos vaguely noted: “You see President Trump and his allies on Capitol Hill putting more and more pressure on the FBI and Mueller.”
Without ever explaining was that “pressure” was regarding, View co-host Meghan McCain ranted:
Yeah, I think we need to be really careful going into midterm elections with the implications that possibly Republicans think anything that happens in this investigation is okay. What’s interesting to me is Sarah Huckabee Sanders coming out yesterday saying, “Americans don’t care about this, this is a nothing burger.” The problem is, every time we’re told it’s a nothing burger, another tentacle on this octopus comes out and more and more information is revealed....And I think the idea that anyone taking cover or giving cover to this president at this point, if he did, in fact, have the kind of interactions with Russia and Ambassador Kislyak that are being propositioned right here, could possibly be incredibly lethal.
Any evidence that doesn’t fit the liberal media narrative of Donald Trump being guilty of colluding with Russia is promptly dismissed as the GOP engaging in partisanship and “conspiracy theories.”