Accuracy in Media

Even as polls show Americans have not bought into Democrats’ attempts to impeach President Donald Trump and the Department of Justice’s Inspector General’s report confirms most, if not all, of Republicans’ worst suspicions about the conduct of the FBI, CNN pushed forward Wednesday with a story that asserted Trump is escaping punishment for his misdeeds through compulsive lying.

“Donald Trump is looking to survive impeachment the same way he built his powerful presidency – by assaulting facts and seeking to expand the limitations of the office he is accused of abusing,” Stephen Collinson wrote in a story headlined, “Trump assaults facts to survive impeachment.”

On the day Democrats proposed two articles of impeachment that themselves mark retreats from earlier claims, “the president and his courtiers laid down a fresh fog to obscure the evidence that incriminates him,” Collinson wrote.

Attorney General William Barr “reprised his role spinning his boss out of trouble, dismissing his own department’s watchdog report that debunked Trump’s repeated claim that ‘Deep State’ coup tried to bring him down,” Collinson wrote. “Barr also breathed fresh life into another of Trump’s conspiracy theories – that the FBI’s Russia investigation was unjustified and rooted in political bias by Obama administration officials.”

In fact, the report revealed 17 “mistakes” on just one of the applications the FBI and Department of Justice submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Service Court to obtain permission to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. It also stated: “We determined that the Crossfire Hurricane team’s receipt of Steele’s election reporting on September 19, 2016, played a central and essential role in the FBI’s and Department’s decision to seek the FISA order.”

After quoting Barr from his interview on NBC News that the nation was turned on its head for three years “’based on a completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by an irresponsible press,’” Collinson wrote, “The comments reflected the tendency of the Trump administration to deflect damning facts and to create new narratives that the president and his fans find more appealing.”

He then added: “Trump’s never-ending stream of misinformation, half-truths and conspiracy theories seems designed to confuse voters and to create ambiguity and uncertainty about the outcome of investigations in a way that leaves even the closest observer unsure about the facts.”

Collinson then quoted Garry Kasparov, the Russian former world chess champion and Trump critic, comparing Trump to Putin. “’I always call Putin merchant of doubt,’” Collinson quoted Kasparov saying. “’But now seeing what’s happening in America. It’s when just Republicans managed to turn the whole political process in this alternative reality. It’s like a post-truth world.’”

Trump started lying from the moment he took office, Collinson said, referring to the controversy over the size of his inaugural crowd and citing the Washington Post’s largely debunked data base of “false and misleading claims” by the president, which now totals more than13,400.

“Trump’s incessant torrent of attacks – on Twitter and on camera, amplified by conservative media outlets – has helped to insulate him against the consequences of his actions,” Collinson wrote, not noting that it was not conservative outlets who cleared him of collusion and obstruction of justice in the Mueller probe, but Hillary Clinton-donor lawyers who spent $40 million, interviewed 500 witnesses and came away with nothing.

Trump’s “verbal assault politicized” Mueller’s “once-unblemished public reputation and helped swamp his findings and draw the sting from their ultimate impact,” Collinson wrote. He’s done the same thing with the impeachment inquiry, where he has been “partially successful in drowning out the consequences of damning testimony about his pressure on Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.”

This “relentless wave of disinformation complicates the task of Democrats seeking to build a public case against the president,” Collinson charged. “And it shapes a new narrative which Trump’s supporters and media cheerleaders can buy into and adorn.”

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