CBS This Morning and ABC’s Good Morning America on Friday awoke to the concept that maybe Russia didn’t cause Hillary Clinton to lose the presidential election. CBS co-host Norah O’Donnell observed, “It’s true, actually, that the Clinton campaign spent more money in Georgia and Arizona than Wisconsin and Michigan. That's a fact.”
Regarding Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s testimony before Congress, Thursday, GMA reporter Jon Karl allowed, “There’s nothing in the report, I’m told, that said this actually affected the outcome of the elections. Nobody in the intelligence community is suggesting this is why Donald Trump won.”
Asked by Robin Roberts if one can separate Russian mischief from the actual result, Karl responded, “You absolutely can.”
Yet, journalists weren’t trying to separate attempted hack attacks from the election results. Back on the December 13 GMA, analyst Matt Dowd painted a cloud over Trump and Russian efforts: “He already lost the popular vote we know to Hillary Clinton and there's been questions related to the election.”
On This Week, December 18, Martha Raddatz described Russia’s efforts as generically “hacking campaign 2016.”
On CBS This Morning, O’Donnell talked to New York Times journalist David Sanger. He put the blame for confusing efforts with results on Trump:
DAVID SANGER: One of the interesting things that's going on with the Trump campaign right now or the Trump transition is that they are confusing the facts set of whether the Russians came in, what they did, with the outcome.
He added, “I think if the Russia stayed out, you'd have exactly the same result. But that doesn't necessarily mean the Russians didn't try.”
A partial transcript of the CBS segment is below:
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CBS This Morning
NORAH O’DONNELL: Russia tried to interfere with the election, but to Kellyanne's point, did they influence the outcome of the election and tip it in Donald Trump's favor?
DAVID SANGER (NYT national security correspondent): I don’t think anybody has found any evidence that that has happened. And I think one of the interesting things that's going on with the Trump campaign right now, or the Trump transition, is that they are confusing the facts set of whether the Russians came in, what they did, with the outcome.
SANGER: And they could easily be in a position, I think, maybe after today's briefing, but maybe not, of saying they think the Russians were part of the group that came in, but that it still didn't affect the outcome. I think so far they've conflated those two.
O’DONNELL: And that’s why I asked that question in that way for that very point. Because it is true, actually, that the Clinton campaign spent more money in Georgia and Arizona than Wisconsin and Michigan. That’s a fact.
SANGER: No, that’s right! I think if the Russia stayed out, you'd have exactly the same result. But that doesn't necessarily mean the Russians didn't try.