By: Roger Aronoff | Accuracy in Media
The New York Times recently published a lengthy postmortem on the effects that the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails and the bureau’s investigation into Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia had on the 2016 election. The paper casts blame because FBI Director James Comey went public with the Clinton investigation, but didn’t expose the Trump inquiry during the election.
“For all the attention on Mrs. Clinton’s emails, history is likely to see Russian influence as the more significant story of the 2016 election,” concludes the Times. “Questions about Russian meddling and possible collusion have marred Mr. Trump’s first 100 days in the White House…Despite Mr. Trump’s assertions that ‘Russia is fake news,’ the White House has been unable to escape its shadow.”
The media, and many Democrats, continue to speak of collusion between Trump associates and Russia that may have influenced the outcome of last year’s presidential election. Yet we have reported at length about how thin the evidence is for this theory.
New polling, however, shows that Trump would win the election even now, despite a low approval rating. The Washington Post, describing its ABC/Post poll, reports, “Asked how they would vote if the election were held today, 43 [percent] say they would support Trump and 40 percent say Clinton.” Of course, the Post buried this deep into an article which discusses Trump’s disapproval rating, titled, “Nearing 100 days, Trump’s approval at record lows but his base is holding.”
ABC’s Jonathan Karl was more honest, tweeting out, “According to the ABC/WP poll, among 2016 voters, @realDonaldTrump would beat Hillary Clinton in a rematch—in the popular vote, no less.” This is really quite remarkable, given the round-the-clock, unremitting hostility toward Trump, not just in nearly every news story and from journalists on nearly every network, but also from The Washington Post and New York Times. Every late-night talk and comedy show is beyond brutal to Trump and his family, as are many of the scripted primetime shows.
The only TV network where Trump is not the object of such hostility is Fox News, where several journalists support Trump, others are neutral, and some are hostile, like Shepard Smith. Talk radio and some of the conservative newspapers, e.g. The Washington Times and Washington Examiner, are at least balanced in their coverage of Trump, and in some cases very supportive.
That the Russians somehow skewed the election outcome is nonsense. Despite endless reporting about baseless allegations of collusion, voters would, if the polls can be believed, vote for, and elect, Trump again. The real interference was run by White House lackeys like Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the mainstream media.
What the Times reporters are missing is that their reporting reveals how Lynch was playing politics, passionately trying to downplay the Clinton investigation. “At the meeting, everyone agreed that Mr. Comey should not reveal details about the Clinton investigation,” reports the Times. “But Ms. Lynch told him to be even more circumspect: Do not even call it an investigation, she said, according to three people who attended the meeting. Call it a ‘matter.’”
“It was a by-the-book decision,” reports the Times. “But Mr. Comey and other F.B.I. officials regarded it as disingenuous in an investigation that was so widely known.”
Some have also argued that Lynch openly played favorites when Bill Clinton boarded her plane at the Phoenix airport in what the Times matter-of-factly calls a “chance encounter.” It was just days before Comey’s scheduled interview with Mrs. Clinton over the Fourth of July weekend, and added to the appearance that the fix was in. Bill Clinton had appointed Lynch to her position as U.S. Attorney when he was president, and it was reported that a message from the Clinton camp was sent to Ms. Lynch via The New York Times that she would be getting strong consideration to stay on as attorney general in a Hillary Clinton administration.
As for when Comey signaled to Congress that the investigation into Clinton’s emails had been reopened, less than two weeks before the election, the Times reports that “In a series of phone calls, her [Lynch’s] aides told Mr. Comey’s deputies that there was no need to tell Congress anything until agents knew what the emails contained.”
The Times also contends that Russian hackers stole a document which cast doubt on Lynch’s impartiality. “The Times’ investigative report suggests that a U.S. intelligence agency managed to intercept some of what Russian hackers were stealing,” reports Breitbart, continuing “and that one document, ‘described as both a memo and an email, was written by a Democratic operative who expressed confidence that Ms. Lynch would keep the Clinton investigation from going too far.’”
But it was Obama administration officials, specifically the White House, who told Comey not to publish an op-ed about Russian interference in the election because they were waiting for the intelligence agencies to produce a “formal intelligence assessment,” the Times reports.
For all the accusations that Comey was too aggressive in his investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s reckless handling of classified material, often referred to as her “email scandal,” he made the case for her prosecution, and then recommended against it, saying that “no reasonable prosecutor” would pursue this case. And the Department of Justice granted immunity to key persons in the case such as Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson, who received that deal in exchange for access to their private laptops.
Mrs. Clinton blamed her electoral loss on Comey’s interference: “Just as we were back up on the upward trajectory, the second letter from Comey essentially doing what we knew it would—saying there was no there there—was a real motivator for Trump’s voters,” she said last November.
But the new Post/ABC News poll demonstrates that Trump, despite low favorability ratings, would be elected again today—by a greater margin. “When asked if they would vote for him again, 96 percent say they would, which is higher than the 85 percent of Hillary Clinton voters who say they would support her again,” reports the Post.
The media have done everything they can to damage the Trump presidency, and they did everything they could to ensure—and predict—a Clinton win. Yet the voters conclude that they would vote for Trump. There is no way to spin this. The media, and Democrats, lost in November for any number of reasons, including their own incompetence and misunderstanding of the American people—not Comey’s actions or a Russian influence operation.
Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.