Accuracy in Media

A pop quiz of sorts in the Washington Post intended to show Americans what they know rather than what they think about the Mueller investigation.

Instead, it devolved into an attack piece on President Trump.

“Depending on whom you’ve been listening to, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation was either a “witch hunt” that ultimately exonerated President Trump, a worthy investigation undercut at the end by political bias, or something in between,” wrote Kevin Uhrmacher and Kevin Schaul under the headline, “How well do you know what the Mueller investigation revealed?”

“But Attorney General William P. Barr’s four-page summary of the Mueller report and details previously made public have clarified major facts related to the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russia. Can you identify what the investigation uncovered?”

The first question: “Did Russians meddle in the 2016 election?” The answer is yes. “The report details Russian campaigns to influence the 2016 election, and Mueller charged dozens of Russians in the span of his investigation,” Urmacher and Schaul wrote.

“U.S. intelligence agencies have long concluded that Russians spread misinformation, hacked into computers and obtained emails of Democratic officials to favor a Trump victory. Trump has clouded these conclusions by being slow to call out Russia for involvement in the election or publicly accept the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies.”

It then provides a quote from a “U.S. intelligence report,” dated Jan. 5, 2017. “We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the presidential election … We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”

Mainstream media has refused to acknowledge that it was the Clinton campaign that worked with Russians to try to produce dirt on Trump through the now-discredited Fusion GPS dossier or that Russian meddlers organized campaign events on behalf of her as well as President Trump.

The second question – “Did Mueller find a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia?” – offered the best chance for the Post to simply grant Trump a point.

But it couldn’t say “Barr’s summary states rather plainly that this did not happen. The Mueller report did not find evidence that anyone from the Trump campaign was coordinating with the Russians in its election interference. It even suggests that the Russians presented opportunities to assist that the Trump administration declined” without also saying, “Prior to the release, some Democrats predicted a different result. ‘We know there was some collusion,’ Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., told CNN.”

To the question: “Did Mueller conclude that Trump obstructed justice?” the reply was “Right, but it’s also a bit more complicated …”

To the question: “Did Mueller conclude that Trump DID NOT obstruct justice?” the response was: “Though Trump tweeted ‘Total EXONERATION’ following the release, Mueller did not come to a conclusion on the question and Barr’s summary of Mueller’s report said it ‘did not exonerate’ Trump. Citing ‘the public interest in the matter,’ Barr said he planned to release more of Mueller’s full report, though significant portions may be missing.”

It then supplied a quote from Barr’s summary: “While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

It never mentions that Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded Trump did not obstruct justice and would not be charged, or that they were likely on sound legal footing.

The next question asks: “Have any Trump-connected individuals been found guilty of crimes as a result of the investigation?” The answer is yes, and George Papadopoulos, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and Michael Flynn are mentioned. What is not mentioned is that none of the crimes for which they were found guilty involved Trump or collusion or obstruction.

In further questions, the Post claims without evidence that Donald Trump Jr. exchanged emails with WikiLeaks, that Flynn pleaded guilty to lying about conversations with Russians – although it doesn’t mention even the FBI now doubts he is guilty – and that the Department of Justice is far from done investigating Trump.

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