CNN’s Wednesday night newsletter, sent from Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter, proved rather less than reliable. The “newsletter” accused Fox News of burying the real news of the coronavirus pandemic in order to push a “conspiracy” theory about former President Barack Obama.
“Fox dumps virus coverage for conspiracy,” ran the newsletter’s headline. Further down, Stelter’s minion sought to explain this alleged news decision.
“And while it might be tempting to ignore all of this, and brush it aside, there is a real news story here: It’s that the President of the United States, in conjunction with a major American network, is polluting the information wells during a pandemic to help distract from the bad news and boost his re-election efforts,” the newsletter read.
Did Fox News ignore coronavirus news to push a “conspiracy” theory? Far from it. The conservative news outlet dedicated many segments to coronavirus-related news, from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin discussing efforts to restart the economy, to multiple reports on the Senate hearing with Dr. Anthony Fauci, to two segments on the FBI’s claims that China is attempting cyber espionage against the U.S. in order to steal data on COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, to a rare inflammatory syndrome affecting children that may be linked to the coronavirus.
Sure, Stelter’s minion may disagree with the angles of Fox News’s coverage of these issues, but that does not mean Fox “dumped” the coronavirus pandemic in favor of a “conspiracy” theory.
Specifically, the newsletter author claimed that Fox “largely ignored the virus in the afternoon and into its prime time programming.” The newsletter acknowledged coronavirus coverage earlier in the day, but dismissed it. “When asked about the lack of coronavirus coverage, a Fox News spokesperson pointed to coverage from earlier in the afternoon.” Yet Tucker Carlson, the 8 p.m. Fox News host, covered the Fauci hearing.
CNN itself ignored a real news story — the list of Obama administration officials who wanted retired General Mike Flynn “unmasked.” CNN did not mention the news until six hours after it broke.
CNN’s avoidance of the Flynn news only underscores the bias behind its accusations against Fox. The list of Obama officials who wanted Flynn unmasked is not a conspiracy theory, just as the prosecution abuses against Flynn are also not a conspiracy theory. Contrary to the Democrats’ narrative, Attorney General William Barr was right to drop the case against Flynn in the wake of evidence of a “perjury trap” against him. It appears Flynn pled guilty to making false statements after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team threatened to prosecute his son. You don’t have to support Trump or agree with Flynn to acknowledge the retired general was mistreated.
Yet anti-Trump bias led Brian Stelter himself to complain that conservative media has an “obsession with the deep state and these revelations about the Russia probe” — as if Stelter had not been obsessed with the Russia probe for years when it was a convenient talking point against Trump.
CNN’s anti-Trump bias may lead them to downplay the latest developments in the Russia probe, but they are news, not “conspiracy.”
The apparent perjury trap set for Michael Flynn revealed the ugly depths to which the Intelligence Community would sink to maintain the collusion narrative. The transcripts of House Intelligence Committee testimony revealed that most of the intelligence actors in the investigation did not have any evidence to suspect collusion. The mostly-unredacted scope memo laying out the reasoning behind appointing Special Counsel Robert Mueller has laid bare the utter baselessness of the case against Trump.
Finally, the list of Obama officials who supported “unmasking” Flynn includes none other than presumptive Democratic nominee Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. In other words, the Flynn episode has undeniable ramifications for the 2020 election, so dedicating a great deal of coverage to it is quite justifiable, even in the midst of the pandemic.
President Trump has branded the new revelations about the Russia probe “Obamagate,” and it certainly is a big scandal. CNN and Brian Stelter can spin this news against the president all they want, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t news — and it doesn’t make Fox News a conspiracy-peddling outfit for covering it.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.