New updates in the special counsel investigation into the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe were greeted with outrage from the right and silence from the left.
A new court filing from Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe alleges the Clinton campaign may have spied on Donald Trump’s internet traffic. Conservative press was outraged while the mainstream media was largely silent.
- Durham filed a 13-page motion regarding a potential conflict of interest facing the defense team of Michael Sussman, a prominent Democratic cybersecurity lawyer who worked for the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign, who was indicted in September for allegedly lying to the FBI.
- Durham claimed to have evidence that Sussman’s other client used Internet traffic data from Trump Tower and the Executive Office of the President to gather information on Donald Trump for political purposes. The other client has not been charged with a crime. Durham’s filing indicates this was done to “please certain ‘VIPs’” including unnamed Clinton campaign officials.
- The special counsel alleges Sussman shopped this information to the FBI and CIA on behalf of the Clinton campaign to urge them to investigate Trump’s possible ties to Russia. It should be noted that there have been no additional indictments at this time and these are allegations that have yet to be proven in court.
- “Mainstream” and left-wing media sources largely ignored the new Durham filing after jumping on every possible Mueller update during the early Trump years. The left-wing and mainstream sources that did cover Durham’s filing all covered and downplayed the Republican response to the filing, not the filing itself.
- Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI), along with former president Donald Trump, called for the Department of Justice to declassify all remaining Trump-Russia records.
- National Review’s Jim Geraghty published the definitive profile of John Durham in November 2019. It’s essential reading to understand the man behind the investigation.
- The Associated Press published an “explainer” on the “buzz” generated by the Trump-Russia news, in its only coverage of the Durham court filing.
- The New York Times declared the conservative narrative “off-track” and bemoaned the “challenge created by a barrage of similar conspiracy theories from Mr. Trump and his allies” in “deciding what merits coverage.” Perhaps New York Times reporters should cover the news – like a rare update from a prominent special counsel investigation – and leave the analysis to pundits.
- The Washington Post analyzed Trump’s claims he was spied on during the 2016 campaign and dismissed them in its only coverage of the Durham filing. The author reluctantly admits there are “legitimate questions about the effort to link Trump back to Russia” – just not legitimate enough for the Washington Post to bother to report on it. Once again, the story is not the story, the story is Republicans’ reaction to the story.
- The Editors Podcast from National Review broke down “Durham’s bombshell,” engaged in some good-old-fashioned media criticism and ranked the Durham revelations on a 1-to-10 score, with 10 being Watergate (Average score? 6). National Review also published an editorial on “Durham’s jaw-dropping revelation.”
- Fox News published an opinion piece from former Congressman Jason Chaffetz that outlines eleven possible implications of the Durham probe.
- The Advisory Opinions legal podcast from The Dispatch analyzed the latest filings from the perspective of the Department of Justice (one of the hosts was a top DOJ official in the Trump administration).
To sum up the media reactions with book titles, call the conservative media The Sound and the Fury and the mainstream media The Silence of the Lambs. Reuters did not even mention it, but did find time to write articles about Melania Trump’s new “social media home” and an unruly passenger incident on an American Airlines flight. The BBC has not written about the FBI-Russia investigation since Nov. 5, 2021. Politico covered the updates briefly in two newsletters and the investigation went unmentioned on their homepage.
The most charitable interpretation of mainstream media silence on Durham’s court filing is that they learned their lesson after overhyping the Mueller Trump-Russia investigation for years just to come up short. However, the mainstream media does not deserve this charity.
Somehow, the mainstream media only seems to learn these lessons after mistakes that hurt Republicans, and only apply those lessons to news stories that could hurt Democrats. See also: the Covington Catholic controversy and the unfounded Brett Kavanaugh sexual assault allegations. The errors only ever seem to run in one direction.
The John Durham investigation continues, and there is expected to be a report once it concludes. By all indications, it seems like it will be an interesting read.
© Dominic Moore, 2022