On Thursday, it was announced that the missing FBI text messages were recovered and heading to Congress for review. With this development, the liberal media finally had an interest in the story, but they instead pushed a narrative that there was nothing to worry about, there wasn’t a scandal to be had, and anyone arguing as such were being political. And during the evening network newscasts, ABC’s World News Tonight was eager to push that narrative while NBC didn’t cover the development at all.
The goal of ABC’s Senior Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas's piece was to discredit anyone who claimed the texts showed there was serious anti-Trump bias at the FBI, and he twisted, mislead, and omitted the facts to do it.
“President Trump and his Republican allies made it out to be a scandal,” Thomas spat. “The idea that the FBI lost months of personal text messages between an FBI agent who served on the special counsel's team and an FBI lawyer.”
Although he read aloud some anti-Trump text messages, Thomas tried to disprove the assertion that the FBI officials involved, agent Peter Strzok and lawyer Lisa Page, were solely against the President. “The texts fueling Republican claims that the FBI is biased against Trump, even though some of the messages also trash liberals,” he pathetically argued as he read anti-Sanders texts sent during the election.
Thomas failed to mention Strzok’s cryptic message to Page that floated the idea of putting some kind of “insurance policy” into motion after Trump got elected. And unlike ABC, CBS Evening News actually mentioned their messages that talked about going easy on Hillary Clinton during the e-mail investigation. “She might be our next president. The last thing need…us going in there loaded for bear,” Page cautioned, Strzok agreed.
Yet, CBS Justice reporter Paula Reid appeared to whine about Republicans using the text to fuel calls for a second special counsel:
Now, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley said these texts appear to show Strzok agreeing to pull punches in the investigation, and they will provide Republicans with more political fodder to push for a separate special counsel to examine how the Clinton investigation was handled.
But Thomas wasn’t done misleading ABC’s viewers just yet. When it came to claims by the Senate’s Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson (Wisc.) that he had a whistleblower who could attest to secret off-site meetings of top FBI officials, ABC was out to make him look like a fool.
“And Pierre, you heard Senator Johnson right there acknowledging it is a real possibility now that this text about a secret society was a joke,” stated sensationalist anchor David Muir. “The committee's top Democrat, Claire McCaskill is demanding, quote, “hard evidence” about that informant and any other allegations,” Thomas replied.
Essentially, ABC conflated a text between Strzok and Page, the liberal media claimed was a joke, with Johnson’s informant. But as Fox News Chief Intelligence Correspondent Catherine Herridge noted during Special Report on Thursday, we don’t know precisely what other texts show and what Johnson’s source knows. Here's part of what Herridge shared:
The five-month gap of missing texts begins, and no one on the hill knows what they show and whether they back up Senator Johnson's whistleblower who claims senior FBI officials held these off-site meetings. So, we’ll see when those newly recovered text messages are provided to Congress.
The relevant portions of the transcript are below:
World News Tonight
January 25, 2018
6:41:37 PM Eastern
DAVID MUIR: There's also news this evening about those missing FBI text messages. The Department of Justice today announcing it has now recovered many of the personal messages between two FBI staffers, one of whom worked on Robert Mueller's team before being asked to leave. And what about that reference to a secret society? Here's ABC's Senior Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas now.
[Cuts to video]
PIERRE THOMAS: President Trump and his Republican allies made it out to be a scandal -- the idea that the FBI lost months of personal text messages between an FBI agent who served on the special counsel's team and an FBI lawyer.
THOMAS: The FBI says the texts were lost through a technical glitch that affected thousands of bureau devices. The President compared it to Watergate. But tonight, the Justice Department revealing that many of those missing texts have now been recovered.
In some of the personal messages that have been released, FBI agent Peter Strzok and lawyer Lisa Page, seen here in an alumni picture, discuss the presidential campaign. Both expressing disdain for Donald Trump. Page writing: "God, Trump is a loathsome human." Strzok responds: "Yet he may win. America will get what the voting public deserves."
The texts fueling Republican claims that the FBI is biased against Trump, even though some of the messages also trash liberals. Page writing at one point: "I just saw my first Bernie Sanders bumper sticker. Made me want to key the car."
Robert Mueller removed Strzok from his team last summer after learning of the text messages. But some Republicans say the texts point to a so-called anti-Trump conspiracy within the FBI. This week, GOP senator Ron Johnson focusing on one text message referencing a secret society.
THOMAS: But then ABC News and others obtained the actual text. Page writing: "Are you even going to give out your calendars? Seems kind of depressing. Maybe it should just be the first meeting of the secret society." Its meaning wholly unclear, and sources speculating that the secret society reference was meant in jest, a joke, something even Senator Johnson today seemed willing to consider.
[Cuts back to live]
MUIR: Okay, Pierre Thomas with us live from Washington tonight. And Pierre, you heard Senator Johnson right there acknowledging it is a real possibility now that this text about a secret society was a joke. But Senator Johnson also claimed to have an informant who said a group of FBI employees was holding secret meetings and tonight, one top Democrat is demanding proof now of these meetings?
THOMAS: David, Senator Johnson is the chair of the Homeland Security Committee and tonight, the committee's top Democrat, Claire McCaskill is demanding, quote, “hard evidence” about that informant and any other allegations. Essentially calling him out. So far, Senator Johnson has not offered any more specifics. David?
CBS Evening News
January 25, 2018
6:33:22 PM Eastern
JEFF GLOR: Justice Department officials told Congress Friday they could not find text messages from thousands of FBI phones, some assigned to agents involved in the Russia investigation. And there is breaking news tonight about this as well. CBS News Justice reporter Paula Reid is with us. Paula, what do we know about these texts?
PAULA REID: Jeff, the department's inspector general announced today that the missing texts have been recovered. And they include missing messages between former special counsel investigators Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. Previously published tackles between those two FBI officials included several anti-Trump comments. Now, Republicans have seized on those messages in an effort to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
GLOR: And so, Paula, Peter Strzok also led the Clinton e-mail investigation. More of his texts were released today as well. What is in those?
REID: Well, in these newly released texts, Page warned Strzok about going too hard on Secretary Clinton. She texted: “She might be our next president. The last thing need…us going in there loaded for bear.” He texted back: “Agreed.”
Now, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley said these texts appear to show Strzok agreeing to pull punches in the investigation, and they will provide Republicans with more political fodder to push for a separate special counsel to examine how the Clinton investigation was handled. Jeff.
GLOR: All right, Paula Reid in our D.C. bureau. That you Willa, thank you very much.