Accuracy in Media

Just at the moment there began to be a sense that Robert Mueller might have gone too far with his delegated-to-the-Southern District of New York raid on the home, office and hotel room of President Trump’s attorney, the mainstream media rushed out with a slew of new polls showing Americans want the president and his allies harassed in this way.

On Wednesday, Alan Dershowitz made the case in a piece on Fox News that the raid violated Trump’s Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to self-incrimination.

He wrote that it wasn’t enough that the materials would be examined by “taint teams” – agents who would go through everything and determine which could not be used because they violate the principle of attorney-client privilege.

“If the government improperly seizes private or privileged material, the violation has already occurred, even if the government never uses the material from the person from whom it was seized,” Dershowitz wrote.

“The very fact that this material is seen or read by a government official constitutes a core violation. It would be the same if the government surreptitiously recorded a confession of a penitent to a priest, or a description of symptoms by a patient to a doctor, or a discussion between a husband and wife of their sex life.”

On Thursday, even the Washington Post ran a piece about a smalltown mayor who had run afoul of his local political establishment and found himself accused of various misdeeds.

People didn’t know what to make of the charges until local law enforcement raided his house at 10 p.m. on a cold winter’s night to look for evidence of residency – “one of the eventual charges against him was election falsification for not living where he said he lived – with investigators meticulously documenting the underwear of [the mayor’s] wife, their young child’s toys and even the serial number of their commode.”

This, the author – Gary Abernathy, editor of the Hillsboro, Ohio, Times-Gazette and a contributor to the Post – drew parallels from.

“Likewise, the raid on Trump’s personal attorney, apparently to probe issues far removed from the original Russian interference and collusion mandate, could well be a tipping point in Trump’s favor. Most people, regardless of their political leanings, don’t like it when it appears an investigation has become more personal than professional, veering off the beaten path to find something – anything – to just to claim a win.”

So, on Friday, the Post and ABC rushed out with a poll showing Americans want their president investigated in this way.

“The public, by a broad 69-25 percent, supports Mueller’s initial thrust, to investigate possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russian government attempts to influence the 2016 election,” the Washington Post s story reports. “Support extends to half of conservatives and more than four in 10 Republicans.”

The survey found far lower support for investigations into the president’s alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels or whether it is important “whether or not Trump has engaged in a pattern of sexual misconduct.”

James Comey, whose book on his dealings with Trump comes out next week but already has been leaked to the media, was found to be more believable than Trump by a 48-32 margin, which is similar to the 47-33 margin by which respondents to the ABC-Post poll disapprove of his firing of Comey as FBI director.

This seems odd considering other recent polling that suggests Trump’s image is improving among Americans. He is back up to 50 percent on the Rasmussen daily tracking poll, the only daily tracking poll currently operating.

Another Rasmussen poll found support for Mueller’s investigation has declined significantly in recent weeks. This week’s report found 46 percent consider the probe an “honest attempt to determine criminal wrongdoing,” down from 52 percent last fall. The most recent poll found 40 percent consider it a witch hunt, up from 32 percent in the fall.

Trends were not noted in the ABC-Washington Post poll.

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