Nets Skip Bad Polling for Mueller Investigation, MSNBC Panics

On Monday, a newly-released USA Today/Suffolk University poll found that 50 percent of Americans agreed with President Trump’s assertion that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation was a “witch hunt.” However, viewers of the Big Three broadcast networks would never know that since the evening and morning newscasts on NBC, ABC, and CBS completely ignored the story. Meanwhile, MSNBC did notice the results and went into panic mode.  

“Amid signs that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference may be near its conclusion, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds that trust in Mueller has eroded and half of Americans agree with President Donald Trump's contention that he has been the victim of a ‘witch hunt,’” the USA Today write-up of the poll revealed.

 

 

On Monday morning, MSNBC anchor Hallie Jackson picked up on the poll, calling the findings “stunning.” She fretted to The Washington Post’s Anne Gearan: “This is a shift from the numbers that we’ve seen in the past. Is that just a reflection of when you hear something from President Trump often enough, people start to buy into it?”

Gearan acknowledged that the President’s criticism of the investigation had stuck a chord with many:

Yeah, I mean, I don’t know all the methodology behind the polling, but we have seen that number shift over the last six months or so....people are clearly ready for this to be over. And that part of the White House message has been extremely effective. The idea that this has been dragging on and dragging on and let’s get it over with already. Americans agree with that.

Later on the show, Jackson brought up the poll again, “showing that half of Americans do not believe in the integrity of Robert Mueller’s investigation.” She worried that the results were “creating some questions about the faith that people have in government based on what they’re hearing from their leaders.”

Politico’s Jake Sherman lamented: “Also combine that with the fact that the President has said time and time again that this investigation is going on for way too long.”

Then, seeming to completely miss the point of the poll, he hyped redacted copies of the Michael Cohen search warrant about to be released:

Congress is out this week, so there’s going to be a dearth of Michael Cohen, Mueller investigation news on Capitol Hill, and here comes these documents to fill the void. So again, we will have more information. Whether it’s big or small, it’ll take us inside this investigation in a way that we have not seen so far. Even if it’s minor morsels of news, it still will fill the void.

That media obsession with the Mueller investigation was part of what poll respondents were rejecting.

NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith chimed in by complaining: “Yeah, and in terms of public opinion, what you’ve had for the entirely of the Mueller investigation is silence from Robert Mueller and his team....And then you have the President and his allies on a daily basis beating up on the investigation, calling it a witch hunt, saying it should have ended sooner, on and on and on. So you – it’s sort of a lopsided fight for public opinion.”

Neither Jackson nor her guests remembered that the media have spent two years cheering on the Mueller probe.

Turning to NBC News investigative reporter Tom Winter, Jackson expressed her concern over “the belief in the integrity of this investigation” beginning to wane. Winter admitted that the press was part of the problem:

I think a lot of it is we have a disconnect between what has been publicly reported, by reporters such as myself and all the major news organization and my colleagues here at NBC News, as far as things that Mueller is investigating, and then, what Mueller has actually sought indictments for. And so, because we have a little bit of that disconnect here, I think people are saying, “Well, I heard about that thing, but I’m not hearing about it from Robert Mueller. So what’s going on?”....I think when you kind of this disconnect between what has been reported on what’s being investigated and what we’ve actually seen...

While public opinion has been steadily souring on Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation, the broadcast networks have frequently looked the other way. In May of 2018, CBS News actually ignored its own poll showing bad numbers for the Special Counsel, leaving it to Fox News to report the findings.

Here are portions of the March 18 discussion of the USA Today/Suffolk poll on MSNBC:

10:23 AM ET

(...)

HALLIE JACKSON: There is some new polling out this morning that I do want to ask you about, from USA Today, showing that a full 50% of Americans, this is stunning, half of Americans agree with President Trump that Robert Mueller’s investigation is a witch hunt. This is a shift from the numbers that we’ve seen in the past. Is that just a reflection of when you hear something from President Trump often enough, people start to buy into it?

ANNE GEARAN [WASHINGTON POST]: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know all the methodology behind the polling, but we have seen that number shift over the last six months or so. A very large percentage of Americans also do say that they want to see the Mueller report become public or the findings of it or basically to know what happened.

But people are clearly ready for this to be over. And that part of the White House message has been extremely effective. The idea that this has been dragging on and dragging on and let’s get it over with already. Americans agree with that.

(...)

10:36 AM ET

HALLIE JACKSON: There was that poll that we flashed earlier in the show that I want to come back to because I think it’s important, out from USA Today, showing that half of Americans do not believe in the integrity of Robert Mueller’s investigation. And that is creating some questions about the faith that people have in government based on what they’re hearing from their leaders.

JAKE SHERMAN [POLITICO]: Also combine that with the fact that the President has said time and time again that this investigation is going on for way too long. You asked the question about what this unveiling of these documents [redacted copies of Michael Cohen search warrant] will do. Congress is out this week, so there’s going to be a dearth of Michael Cohen, Mueller investigation news on Capitol Hill, and here comes these documents to fill the void. So again, we will have more information. Whether it’s big or small, it’ll take us inside this investigation in a way that we have not seen so far. Even if it’s minor morsels of news, it still will fill the void.

TAMARA KEITH [NPR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT]: Yeah, and in terms of public opinion, what you’ve had for the entirely of the Mueller investigation is silence from Robert Mueller and his team...

JACKSON: That’s right.

KEITH: ...except for their court filings, which have a lot of very interesting information in them. And then you have the President and his allies on a daily basis beating up on the investigation, calling it a witch hunt, saying it should have ended sooner, on and on and on. So you – it’s sort of a lopsided fight for public opinion.

JACKSON: Tom, what do you think that polling shows as it relates to public opinion and as it relates to the belief in the integrity of this investigation that is coming up on, what, two years now of being a process?

TOM WINTER: Well, I think it’s an interesting question, Hallie. And I think a lot of it is we have a disconnect between what has been publicly reported, by reporters such as myself and all the major news organization and my colleagues here at NBC News, as far as things that Mueller is investigating, and then, what Mueller has actually sought indictments for. And so, because we have a little bit of that disconnect here, I think people are saying, “Well, I heard about that thing, but I’m not hearing about it from Robert Mueller. So what’s going on?”

JACKSON: Yeah.

WINTER: So it’s just – I think that plays into a little bit of what you were talking about from the standpoint of public opinion. And at this point, you know, Robert Mueller hasn’t spoken at all about this investigation, his press office has declined most comment, preferring to speak through their court filings.

And so, I think when you kind of this disconnect between what has been reported on what’s being investigated and what we’ve actually seen, and with only one side speaking in this case, and that’s the President and his attorneys – and they’re certainly welcome to, you know, speak about anything that they’re – that they’re investigation – you know, that they may be under investigation for. So I think that that’s the gulf you see right now and I think, you know, when you have one side talking, that’s the side people are listening to and digesting.

(...)

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