Chuck Todd Admits Media 'Playing Two Levels of Telephone' With Mueller Sources

The liberal media had their hopes raised of seeing President Trump jailed by the recent dubious reports by The New York Times and The Washington Post claiming that members of the Special Counsel felt Attorney General Barr mischaracterized their findings. Few in the liberal media would dare to admit the questionable nature of the sourcing of their reporting, but that’s what MSNBC host Chuck Todd did during Thursday’s MTP Daily.

To his credit, Todd began his program by pointing out their use of sources that refused to go on the record:

This is how the evidence against Mr. Trump was characterized in all of these reports, which, by the way, are all based on anonymous sources. To The Times it was “more damaging for the President than Mr. Barr explained.” To the Post, it was “alarming and significant.” And to us here at NBC News, it was “compelling.”

“But, folks, we preached caution when Barr told us what Mueller’s evidence really meant. So, we're going to preach caution in this case as well,’ he added.

One of his guests for the evening was Rosalind Helderman, one of the authors of The Washington Post report. Todd’s first question to her regarded their use of anonymous sources:

How nervous are you that we're basing all of this on anonymous -- or people that don't want to go on the record? You know who they are. But we're in this situation in the same way that Barr put us in there in the first place where we're all flying a little blind here.

 

 

Helderman’s answer didn’t instill the greatest confidence in their reporting. She said they trusted they “accurately describing the attitudes of some members of the Mueller team,” but they didn’t have “confidence about exactly what's in that report and how damning or not damning it is, because we haven't seen it a that's just a weird place to be.”

Todd then asked NBC intelligence and national security reporter Ken Dilanian about dealing with his sources. “And it's even more dramatic than just they won't go on the record, we're getting this secondhand,” He shockingly admitted. “We're not getting this directly from people who worked for Robert Mueller. We’re getting this from people who spoke to those people.

A few minutes later, the MSNBC host even conceded that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani made a “credible” in noting how, “if there was a significant difference, Mueller would have corrected it as he did with the false BuzzFeed report.”

“The problem that Democrats have of pushing against that statement....is that it is all anonymous people,” Todd lamented. “All of us are admitting – Our organization, yours, the Post. It is people who are talking to people who’ve talked to reporters. Right? We're playing two levels of telephone.

It’s highly disturbing that they would sprint to use secondary tertiary sources to report on something so consequential. Oh, how far the media had fallen.

(h/t: Mediaite)

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

MSNBC’s MTP Daily
April 4, 2019
5:01:18 p.m. Eastern

CHUCK TODD: We begin tonight with the firestorm ignited by news first reported by The New York Times, then The Washington Post which a U.S. official later confirmed to NBC News. And it's the following that some members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team believe the Attorney General. Bill Barr downplayed the evidence against the President on obstruction.

This is how the evidence against Mr. Trump was characterized in all of these reports, which, by the way, are all based on anonymous sources. To the Times it was “more damaging for the President than Mr. Barr explained.” To the Post, it was “alarming and significant”. And to us here at NBC News, it was “compelling”. But, folks, we preached caution when Barr told us what Mueller’s evidence really meant. So, we're going to preach caution in this case as well. And for the same reason: we still have not seen a single complete sentences from this report.

(…)

Rosalind, I'm going to start with you and Ken, but I’ll start with you. How nervous are you that we're basing all of this on anonymous -- or people that don't want to go on the record? You know who they are. But we're in this situation in the same way that Barr put us in there in the first place where we're all flying a little blind here.

ROSALIND HELDERMAN Yeah. I think that's -- I think the way that you put that in your introduction about the vacuum that's being filled with a lot of people who have not read the report is a good way to put it. I feel confident that we're accurately describing the attitudes of some members of the Mueller team, but I don't have a of confidence about exactly what's in that report and how damning or not damning it is because we haven't seen it a that's just a weird place to be.

TODD: I was just going to say, the word you guys use were “alarming”. Can you give us more? What does that mean? How did this source define "alarming"?

HELDERMAN: I wish I could. I wish I could give you more. What we know is that there is this frustration among some members of the team about what's been happened in this time period, about sort of the hardening of public opinion around what's in a report that they spent a long time on.

(…)

TODD: Ken Dilanian, why won't anybody go on the record? I know you’re trying too.

KEN DILANIAN: And it's even more dramatic than just they won't go on the record, we're getting this secondhand. We're not getting this directly from people who worked for Robert Mueller. We’re getting this from people who spoke to those people.

(…)

5:19:24 p.m. Eastern

TODD: I have to say, Giuliani's push back -- and while Giuliani’s credibility at times can be hot and cold, the fact is, let me just read what he says here, he was able to look credible in this statement:

“If there was a significant difference, Mueller would have corrected it as he did with the false BuzzFeed report.” Fairly fair logic there. “This is from disgruntled Mueller staffers who are rabid democratic supporters.” That was tweets from President Trump that claimed that. “It's yet another example of unethical behavior by Mueller’s staff.” There’s no proof of that. “It also demonstrates that Mueller had people who leaked as much as Comey.” That we don’t know either. “How many leaks proved to be false, most. It can’t obscure the conclusion of no case for collusion or obstruction.”

The problem that Democrats have of pushing against that statement, Charlie, is that it is all anonymous people. It is -- All of us are admitting – Our organization, yours, the Post. It is people who are talking to people who’ve talked to reporters. Right? We're playing two levels of telephone.

(…)

NB Daily Events Mueller Report Bias by Omission Conspiracy Theories Cable Television MSNBC MTP Daily Video Ken Dilanian Robert Mueller Chuck Todd Donald Trump

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