ABC/NBC Ignore Flynn Unmaskers Getting Exposed, CBS Defends Biden

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While Wednesday's CBS Evening News was the only broadcast network to mention that Lieutenant General Michael Flynn's unmaskers had been exposed after two Republican senators released the evidence, anti-Trump White House correspondent Paula Reid downplayed the significance of the three-page list of names. She also stepped up to defend presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, whose name appeared on the list most recently.

CBS tucked the latest Flynn case revelation into a one-minute brief following a coronavirus report very critical of President Trump. “Well, Margaret, unmasking is when a senior government official requests to know the identity of the U.S. citizen in an intelligence report. It's something that happens thousands of times a year,” Reid declared to downplay the significance of what was exposed.

Reid eased into acknowledging that Biden’s name was among those who requested to unmask Flynn, and insinuated that those outraged by it were just toeing the Trump administration line.

“Now, on this list of approximately three dozen officials is former Vice President Joe Biden. And administration officials here at the Trump White House, they're suggesting that Flynn was targeted in an effort to undermine President Trump,” she said.

Reid then leaned on comments from the opposition party, suggesting that it proved Flynn was a threat: “But Democrats have pushed back on this and insisted that, in fact, this list illustrates how widespread the concern was about Flynn's activities and that all of the appropriate laws were followed.”

 

 

In stark contrast, during the opening segment of Special Report that same evening, Fox News correspondent David Spunt walked viewers through how Biden was not being forthcoming about his role in the matter.

“Yesterday, Vice President Biden was asked about what he knew about the Flynn investigation. He changed his tune, though, after it was pointed out to him that he was in that January 5 briefing with then-President Obama about Michael Flynn,” he reported.

Spunt shared this soundbite of Biden speaking with ABC chief anchor George Stephanopoulos:

BIDEN: I know nothing about the moves to investigate Michael Flynn, number one. Number two, this is all about diversion.

[SCREEN WIPE]

STEPHANOPOULOS: I do want to press that. You say you didn't know anything about it but you were reported to be in a January 5, 2017 meeting where you and the President were briefed on the FBI's plan to question Michael Flynn over those conversations he had with the Russian ambassador, Kislyak.

BIDEN: I thought you asked me whether I had anything to do with him being prosecuted, I'm sorry. I was aware that they asked for an investigation but that's all I know about it. And I don’t think anything else.

“Then on January 12, just eight days before President Trump was inaugurated, Biden made the request as we saw from the documents,” Spunt added.

A recent Media Research Center study showed how the broadcast networks were less interested in Flynn’s case getting dropped than when he accepted a plea deal. Now, two are ignoring it and the other is defending their 2020 candidate.

The transcripts are below, click "expand" to read:

 

CBS Evening News
May 13, 2020
6:35:29 p.m. Eastern

(…)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Paula, wow. I want to also ask you about what the acting director of national intelligence did today when he released a list of officials who asked to know the identity of Michael Flynn, then-incoming national security adviser, when his name appeared in classified reports back in 2016. What is the significance?

PAULA REID: Well, Margaret, unmasking is when a senior government official requests to know the identity of the U.S. citizen in an intelligence report. It's something that happens thousands of times a year.

Now, on this list of approximately three dozen officials is former Vice President Joe Biden. And administration officials here at the Trump White House, they're suggesting that Flynn was targeted in an effort to undermine President Trump. But Democrats have pushed back on this and insisted that, in fact, this list illustrates how widespread the concern was about Flynn's activities and that all of the appropriate laws were followed.

BRENNAN: Six months from the election. Paula Reid, thank you.

 

Fox News Channel’s Special Report
May 13, 2020
6:00:21 p.m. Eastern

BRET BAIER: Breaking tonight, we now know which Obama officials requested the unmasking of Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. What that means, why it’s important, we'll get to all of it. The list, actually, goes very high up. We will talk with one of the senators who released the names in just a moment.

We have team coverage. John Roberts is at the White House with what President Trump just said about the revelation, and the latest on the coronavirus. We start off though with correspondent David Spunt at the Justice Department to tell us who’s on that list. Good evening, David.

DAVID SPUNT: Bret, good evening to you. Well, the list is three pages long. It has names of former Obama administration officials who may have received Lieutenant General Michael Flynn's identity between Election Day 2016 and inauguration day 2017. A lot of intelligence names on there, but one name, and it’s the final name on there, Bret, it’s former Vice President Joe Biden.

Now, we've heard a lot about unmasking over the past few days. What exactly does unmasking mean? Well, unmasking means revealing the names of U.S. citizens contained in intelligence reports. It allows others in the intelligence community to see those names.

According to the document, this list includes Obama era officials who requested the name of the person who turned out to be Michael Flynn. It's important to point out that just because these people requested the name, it doesn't necessarily mean they saw Flynn’s name.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power made seven requests from November 30, 2016 until January 11, 2017. Former director of national intelligence [James Clapper] made three, CIA director John Brennan made two, FBI director James Comey made one, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough made one on January 5. Bret, that was the same day President Obama was briefed about Flynn.

Yesterday, Vice President Biden was asked about what he knew about the Flynn investigation. He changed his tune, though, after it was pointed out to him that he was in that January 5 briefing with then-President Obama about Michael Flynn, listen.

[Cuts to video]

JOE BIDEN: I know nothing about the moves to investigate Michael Flynn, number one. Number two, this is all about diversion.

[Transition]

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I do want to press that. You say you didn't know anything about it but you were reported to be in a January 5, 2017 meeting where you and the President were briefed on the FBI's plan to question Michael Flynn over those conversations he had with the Russian ambassador, Kislyak.

BIDEN: I thought you asked me whether I had anything to do with him being prosecuted, I'm sorry. I was aware that they asked for an investigation but that's all I know about it. And I don’t think anything else.

[Cuts back to live]

SPUNT: Then on January 12, just eight days before President Trump was inaugurated, Biden made the request as we saw from the documents.

Now, the DNC and the Biden campaign, they’re calling this partisan, they’re playing down the release The reason I'm standing at the Department of Justice tonight, Bret, there's a separate investigation going on: the John Durham investigation, that’s looking at the origins of the Russia probe. I’m told by an official here that unmasking will be looked at in the Durham probe. And John Durham, if he finds something improper, Bret, he can charge criminally.

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