In the days since President Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin, the liberal media have been bringing back their Russian collusion narrative in a very big way. They’re now openly pushing claims Trump committing treason, a crime punishable by death, and have been growing bold in suggesting the President was a Russian agent. CNN media reporter Brian Stelter boasted about their new courage during Sunday’s “Reliable Sources.”
Stelter kicked off the program by opining about how future historians would look back on this last week and proudly proclaim “this was the week that something changed. Something really shifted in the conversations about the President.”
“Uncomfortable questions moved into the mainstream in a big way. Trump's odd behavior with Vladimir Putin is compelling so many people to ask: ‘What does Putin have on Trump? Has Trump been compromised,’” he boasted. “All of those people, those experts, those reporters, they are looking at the fact pattern and seeing something strange, even sinister.”
After playing clips of MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson, and CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin (all known for their “thoughtful” commentary and their everyman connections) suggesting Trump was Russia’s puppet, Stelter touted “these concerns are now in the bloodstream in a whole new way.”
His evidence for Trump being a Russian agent included the angry ramblings of Obama-era political appointees in former CIA Director John Brennan and DNI James Clapper. “So we've seen some concern official and lawmakers trying to sound the alarm, some by speaking on the record, others by leaking to journalists,” he said.
Of course, Stelter neglected to mention that each of those men were caught lying to Congress under oath. And Brennan’s CIA was actually caught hacking into the computers of Senators and their aides because they were set to release the torture report. So trustworthy, right?
“The warning signs, the sirens are going off all over the place. And you can see journalists have been trying to the trace connections, trying to get to the bottom of what's going on,” Stelter bragged as he shared a conspiratorial image with links running from Trump to Putin.
As if his opinion actually stood for something, Stelter turned to rabid anti-Trumper Max Boot to backup the conspiracy theories. “We are at a point we are debating for the first time in a serious way whether the President of the United States is disloyal to America. Whether the President of the United States is an agent of a foreign power,” Boot announced with excitement.
“I mean, this is the kind of accusation in the past was only made by fringe conspiracy theorists,” Boot continued, completely oblivious to the irony. “And these people are saying that there is something fishy going on here, that Trump has been compromised, that he’s being blackmailed by Putin. Because there is no other way to explain his behavior.” He did admit there was no “proof” of his claims but suggested there was plenty of “evidence,” they were just waiting for Mueller to finish the investigation.
A short time later, Stelter shared his concerns for the American people. He was worried that the liberal media was not explaining what was at stake fearfully enough, even blaming on their banners. “I'm worried that our journalism structures and norms are really ill-suited to this moment in time,” he fretted. “Think about this cable news screen, the banner is the same size whether it says ‘cat gets stuck in a tree’ or whether it says ‘Trump might have committed treason.’”
Agreeing with Stelter’s premise, CNN commentator Jill Dougherty noted that their claims of Trump being a Russian agent caused people to run to their bunkers. She even asserted that conservative media outlets were acting like Russian state TV. “I think a lot of people are having a hard time doing that or trying to remain neutral,” Stelter huffed.
Nothing about this was objective or in any way resembled journalism. It was solely political operatives and activists launching an assault on their opposition. This was the #Resistance. This is CNN.
The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:
July 22, 2018
11:00:51 AM Eastern [3 minutes 15 seconds]
BRIAN STELTER: But first, this prediction. When historians look back on the Trump presidency they'll say this was the week that something changed. Something really shifted in the conversations about the President. Uncomfortable questions moved into the mainstream in a big way. Trump's odd behavior with Vladimir Putin is compelling so many people to ask: “What does Putin have on Trump? Has Trump been compromised?” All of those people, those experts, those reporters, they are looking at the fact pattern and seeing something strange, even sinister.
[Clips of Joe Scarborough, Eugene Robinson, Jeffrey Toobin]
STELTER: See these concerns are now in the bloodstream in a whole new way. I don't think there's any coming back from this. Josh Marshall of the liberal Talking Points Memo put it this way, he said “the press conference in Helsinki made cautious prominent people start to come to grips with the reality that” Trump is “under some kind of influence or control by a foreign adversary.” Now Marshall thinks that is true. Others are unsure, but the concern is palpable.
GOP Congressman Will Hurd says Putin is manipulating Trump, and he asks “what should we do?” Of course, the week of walk backs did not inspire any confidence. Frankly, too many members of the media kind of fell for Trump's “cleanup” act, his double negative excuse. But you can't clean up actions with mere words. Trump's actions are what have brought us to this place, where critics like Obama’s former CIA director, John Brennan are accusing him of “treasonous” behavior.
Now, it's been almost week since the Trump/Putin meeting but it's still shrouded in secrecy. Trump didn’t even debrief key officials in his own administration. He has not debriefed key allies on Capitol Hill either. So we've seen some concern official and lawmakers trying to sound the alarm, some by speaking on the record, others by leaking to journalists. So it's worth noting what Trump did in reaction; what he did in reaction to all the coverage.
Well, according to The Washington Post he reacted furiously. We can see some of that on Twitter. Trump lambasted “the fake news media” saying it was “going crazy” on Thursday. That same day he told John Bolton to invite Putin to Washington.
So now, people much smarter than me are asking, “Why is Trump trying to bring Putin to D.C. when his own director of national intelligence says it's undeniable Russia that is trying to wreak havoc over the election process?” The warning signs, the sirens are going off all over the place. And you can see journalists have been trying to the trace connections, trying to get to the bottom of what's going on. But that's really difficult. I mean, at the heart of this, the story is a mystery. So, are reporters covering it responsibility?
11:04:19 AM Eastern [1 minute 39 seconds]
STELTER: Max, you were a foreign policy adviser to McCain in 2008, to Romney in 2012, now, of course, you're an avoid Trump critic. You look at this week, what does it add up to in your mind?
MAX BOOT: Well, I think you delivered a very good summary, Brian. We are at a point we are debating for the first time in a serious way whether the President of the United States is disloyal to America. Whether the President of the United States is an agent of a foreign power. Now, to be sure, we have not had proof of that but there is evidence of it. And you're seeing very serious people – I mean, this is the kind of accusation in the past was only made by fringe conspiracy theorists, John Birchers and so forth. Now you're seeing people- very creditable, very serious like John Brennan the former CIA director, Jim Clapper the former director of national intelligence, Leon Panetta the former CIA director. A lot of people in a position to know.
And these people are saying that there is something fishy going on here, that Trump has been compromised, that he’s being blackmailed by Putin. Because there is no other way to explain his behavior. And that to me seems like a very plausible supposition even though we have to wait for Robert Mueller's investigation to conclude before we have any evidence of it-- proof of it, if, in fact, the proof is forthcoming.
11:06:51 AM Eastern [1 minute 50 seconds]
STELTER: I'm worried that our journalism structures and norms are really ill-suited to this moment in time. Think about this cable news screen, the banner is the same size whether it says “cat gets stuck in a tree” or whether it says “Trump might have committed treason.” And I just wonder, Jill, you’re a former CNNer, are there solutions to that part of the problem? To convey the stakes of what's going on to the audience.
JILL DOUGHERTY: You know, I think one of the problems, Brian, is that right now if you look at some of the polling of people who either support the President or do not, both sides have kind of gone into their bunkers and even though you can take facts and figures and all of that, it doesn't necessarily convince people. So, I think it's more important for the media to stand back and try to deliver some type of -- number one, of course, facts but also do this without editorializing.
I know that's very, very difficult but it immediately will be disavowed by the other side if they say, “oh, it's just those let's say Democrats criticizes the presidents.” And you see this, I watch the Russian media so it's very very interesting to see this, because there is kind of a mirror imagine, I would say, between the ultra-conservative type of media in the United States and what Russian media does. There's very much of a loop. So I think, you know, standing as far back as we can and really not getting into the fight, the dog fight, is really important.
STELTER: That's a very important and yet, you know, I think a lot of people are having a hard time doing that or trying to remain neutral.