WASHINGTON, D.C. – With America’s political landscape reset by the bombshell findings of “No Collusion” by the Trump campaign, some news outlets continued to defend aggressive reporting of a story still unfolding — but other observers warned a “reckoning” was in store over potentially biased coverage.
The White House wasted little time in sharpening its attacks on the biased mainstream media.
“I think Democrats and the liberal media owe the president, and they owe the American people an apology,” Trump’s spokeswoman Sarah Sanders charged on NBC, echoing similar demands from the president’s sons, Donald Jr and Eric.
But well beyond the Trump camp, there was an acknowledgement that the summary of Robert Mueller’s conclusions released Sunday risked badly damaging the credibility of many news outlets in the eyes of the public.
Rolling Stone editor and author Matt Taibbi called the special counsel’s findings a “death-blow for the reputation of the American news media.”
“Nothing Trump is accused of from now on by the press will be believed by huge chunks of the population,” he wrote.
Glenn Greenwald, co-founder of The Intercept, argued cable news outlets in particular need to face up to errors of judgment.
Visibly emboldened by the turn of the events, the White House sent a memo out to television producers urging them to “employ basic journalistic standards” when booking six high-profile Trump critics who, it said, had “made outlandish, false claims” on air.
The figures singled out included Democrats Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, Richard Blumenthal, Tom Perez and Eric Swalwell, as well as former CIA director John Brennan.
John Brennan has a lot to answer for—going before the American public for months, cloaked with CIA authority and openly suggesting he’s got secret info, and repeatedly turning in performances like this. pic.twitter.com/EziCxy9FVQ
— Terry Moran (@TerryMoran) March 25, 2019
Former Obama CIA Director John Brennan faced a day of reckoning on Monday, after the Special Counsel investigation did not establish there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia after extensive investigation.
Although conservatives have long cast a wary eye at the former CIA director, whose hyper-partisan rants and high-profile role as a senior national security and intelligence analyst for NBC and MSNBC went beyond the partisanship of previous CIA chiefs in recent memory, mainstream media journalists are now also questioning his credibility.
ABC News Senior National Correspondent Terry Moran on Sunday tweeted, along with a clip of a March 6 interview on MSNBC, “John Brennan has a lot to answer for — going before the American public for months, cloaked with CIA authority and openly suggesting he’s got secret info, and repeatedly turning in performances like this.”
During that interview, Brennan told The Last Word host Lawrence O’Donnell that he predicted Mueller would conclude his report with “final indictments,” including potentially of Trump family members.
And MSNBC’s Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough on Monday questioned Brennan on whether he received “bad information.”
But CNN political commentator Amanda Carpenter — a vociferous Trump critic herself — called on Brennan to “apologize” for throwing the word “treason” out when discussing Trump and the Russia investigation.
“At the very least, Brennan needs to apologize to the American people for giving them the idea that treason — big capital letters treason — was committed,” she said on CNN.
“He’s not just a regular pundit spouting off. He was a former CIA director. And I don’t know about you guys, but when a former CIA director speaks, I listen, because I believe they have credibility, and now he’s backtracking and saying, ‘Well maybe I had bad information.’ He needs to flesh that out a little more,” she said.
“John Brennan should have been more careful,” she added.
By Kristina Wong