Ahead of Barr Hearing, Nets Hyped ‘Explosive’ Mueller ‘Bombshell’

Just hours before Attorney General William Barr sat down to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, all three network morning shows used Democratic talking points to frame the upcoming hearing. Reporters hyped an “explosive” newly-revealed letter from Special Counsel Robert Mueller as a “bombshell” that would ensure a “grilling” of Barr.  

“Bombshell letter. What we now know about how Robert Mueller really felt about the Attorney General’s report on the Russia investigation,” co-host Savannah Guthrie proclaimed at the top of NBC’s Today show. In a report minutes later, correspondent Peter Alexander asserted: “Attorney General William Barr now certain to face a grilling from Senate Democrats today, after that explosive news that Special Counsel Robert Mueller sent him what at least until now was an undisclosed letter disputing Barr’s summary of his report.”

He further touted: “Some Democrats are now calling for Barr to resign, accusing him of misleading the public.”

 

 

During a news brief in the 8:00 a.m. ET hour, Guthrie repeated: “A bombshell revelation overnight says that the Special Counsel Mueller was critical of the way Barr first portrayed his findings.” Alexander emphasized:

The Attorney General William Barr is testifying before the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee today. But he’s going to get a grilling from Democrats after what was significantly explosive news here that Robert Mueller sent him a letter in late March complaining that Barr’s initial summary misrepresented his report and even caused unnecessary confusion. As Mueller writes, it threatened to undermine the public’s confidence in his findings. Some Democrats are already calling for Barr to resign.

ABC’s Good Morning America began with almost an identical headline from fill-in co-host Cecilia Vega: “The Attorney General William Barr about to face off with lawmakers as news breaks of a bombshell letter from Special Counsel Mueller, objecting to how the AG explained the Russia report to the American people.”

Introducing the later segment, Vega reiterated the word the of the day: “Take a live look at the room where Attorney General William Barr will soon be grilled on the Russia report. But just ahead of this showdown, a new bombshell this morning.” Congressional correspondent Mary Bruce soon joined in:

Cecilia, this is likely to be explosive. Democrats have accused Bill Barr of being the President’s protector and now they are going to have a lot of fresh questions about his interactions with Mueller and whether Barr misled Congress during his previous testimony. Barr is going to be grilled here today about his handling of this report.

CBS This Morning was somewhat more measured in its coverage, but still participated in the sensationalism. Correspondent Nancy Cordes breathlessly declared: “You know, you could almost hear Democrats across the Capitol ripping up their questions and starting over last night after news of this Mueller letter broke.”

Later in the 8:00 a.m. ET hour, co-host Gayle King announced: “The potential content and scope of this morning’s hearing took a huge turnover night.” Cordes returned to echo her NBC and ABC colleagues: “The reason that this is so explosive here on Capitol Hill is because Barr, with his four-page memo to Congress back on March 24th, was really able to shape the narrative behind the Mueller report for almost a month until he released the redacted version of the Mueller report to the public.”

That quote gives away the true intention of the media, to control the “narrative” at all costs. Journalists are often more concerned with shaping and manipulating public opinion than with reporting the facts.

Here are excerpts of the April 1 coverage on NBC’s Today show:

7:00 AM ET TEASE

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Bombshell letter. What we now know about how Robert Mueller really felt about the Attorney General’s report on the Russia investigation. The Special Counsel’s letter to the AG and their follow-up conversation just ahead, as William Barr faces Congress this morning.

7:08 AM ET

CRAIG MELVIN: Now to the latest on the Mueller report and a dramatic showdown on Capitol Hill. Attorney General William Barr facing lawmakers this morning for the first time since the Mueller report’s release. It comes as we learn that Robert Mueller himself has already confronted the nation’s top prosecutor over his portrayal of the investigation. We’ve got complete coverage on that this morning, starting with NBC’s White House correspondent Peter Alexander. Peter, good morning.     

PETER ALEXANDER: Hey, Craig, good morning to you. This big news overnight, the Attorney General William Barr now certain to face a grilling from Senate Democrats today, after that explosive news that Special Counsel Robert Mueller sent him what at least until now was an undisclosed letter disputing Barr’s summary of his report. Some Democrats are now calling for Barr to resign, accusing him of misleading the public.

New details this morning about how the famously tight-lipped Robert Mueller was fuming behind the scenes about the release of his report. After stunning new revelations overnight that the Special Counsel wrote a letter to his boss, Attorney General William Barr, objecting to Barr’s initial description of Mueller’s conclusions, complaining that Barr’s account caused public confusion.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL [D-CT]: This letter is unquestionably an unprecedented, stunning rebuke of the Attorney General of the United States. Very severely undermining, in fact, devastating his credibility.

REP. JACKIE SPEAR [D-CA]: It is an outright manipulation of the report and the statements by Special Counsel Mueller.

(...)

8:04 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Attorney General William Barr is testifying before Congress today, first time since he released the Mueller report. A bombshell revelation overnight says that the Special Counsel Mueller was critical of the way Barr first portrayed his findings. NBC’s White House correspondent Peter Alexander joins us with more. Peter, good morning.

PETER ALEXANDER: Hey, Savannah, good morning to you. The Attorney General William Barr is testifying before the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee today. But he’s going to get a grilling from Democrats after what was significantly explosive news here that Robert Mueller sent him a letter in late March complaining that Barr’s initial summary misrepresented his report and even caused unnecessary confusion. As Mueller writes, it threatened to undermine the public's confidence in his findings. Some Democrats are already calling for Barr to resign.

(...)

Here are excerpts from ABC’s GMA:

7:01 AM ET TEASE

CECILIA VEGA: The Attorney General William Barr about to face off with lawmakers as news breaks of a bombshell letter from Special Counsel Mueller, objecting to how the AG explained the Russia report to the American people. Now Democrats demanding answers.

7:07 AM ET

VEGA: We are now gonna turn to that high-stakes hearing on Capitol Hill. Take a live look at the room where Attorney General William Barr will soon be grilled on the Russia report. But just ahead of this showdown, a new bombshell this morning. We are now learning that Special Counsel Robert Mueller raised serious objections about how Barr first characterized the Mueller report, essentially as a win for President Trump.

(...)

7:09 AM ET

VEGA: This is gonna be a heated showdown today, in part because of this new revelation about these complaints by Mueller seem to flatly contradict what Barr told Congress last month when he was specifically asked about Mueller’s team raising these objections.

(...)

7:10 AM ET

MARY BRUCE: Cecilia, this is likely to be explosive. Democrats have accused Bill Barr of being the President’s protector and now they are going to have a lot of fresh questions about his interactions with Mueller and whether Barr misled Congress during his previous testimony. Barr is going to be grilled here today about his handling of this report.

(...)

Here are excerpts from CBS This Morning:

7:07 AM ET

MARGARET BRENNAN: Nancy Cordes is on Capitol Hill, where the news of Mueller’s letter has shaken up expectations for the Senate hearing, which was already expected to be contentious. Nancy, good morning.

NANCY CORDES: Good morning. That’s right. You know, you could almost hear Democrats across the Capitol ripping up their questions and starting over last night after news of this Mueller letter broke. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota told me she now is going to want to know a lot more why the Attorney General didn’t seek more of Mueller’s input from the outset. Klobuchar is one of three Democratic presidential candidates who are on this committee and will grill Barr today, all of them looking to make their mark in a crowded presidential field. Another committee Democrat, Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal, called the Mueller letter an “unprecedented, stunning rebuke” of the AG that will devastate Barr’s credibility within DOJ and at this hearing.

(...)

8:02 AM ET

GAYLE KING: The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to question Attorney General William Barr about the Mueller report. The potential content and scope of this morning’s hearing took a huge turnover night.
                
BRENNAN: It did. CBS News has confirmed that Special Counsel Robert Mueller wrote to Attorney General Barr in March, expressing dissatisfaction with his initial summary of the report. The Washington Post says Mueller told Barr he quote, “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of Mueller’s findings on whether the President obstructed justice. Nancy Cordes is on Capitol Hill with reaction from Congress. Nancy, good morning.

NANCY CORDES: Good morning. The reason that this is so explosive here on Capitol Hill is because Barr, with his four-page memo to Congress back on March 24th, was really able to shape the narrative behind the Mueller report for almost a month until he released the redacted version of the Mueller report to the public. And so now, Democrats are questioning whether he lied to Congress when he last testified on April 10th because he was asked whether he thought the Special Counsel agreed with his conclusions and he said he didn’t know. And now we know that Mueller had sent that report, that letter to him two weeks earlier. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted last night, quote, “Attorney General Barr misled the public and owes the American people answers. Barr must stop standing in the way.”

(...)

NB Daily Congress Mueller Report Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats ABC Good Morning America CBS CBS This Morning NBC Today Video Peter Alexander Nancy Cordes Cecilia Vega Bill Barr

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