Accuracy in Media

Beyond what President Trump said publicly, no one in the U.S. media knows what he discussed with Russian President Vladimir Putin in their phone call on Friday, but that didn’t stop them from making some outrageous claims about it.

Chuck Todd of NBC News claimed the president was “almost mocking the Mueller report with Vladimir Putin” and has “convinced the Republican base either that what Russia did was OK or that Russia didn’t do it.”

One of the guests on his Meet the Press media panel, Princeton professor Eddie Glaude, was allowed to say without challenge that “of course there’s a concern about the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s presidency” and “The election itself could be in jeopardy because we have a president who is prone to cheat.”  

In perhaps the most outrageous response, MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace brought on a guest, Mimi Rocah, a former chief of the organized crime and racketeering unit at the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York, to say the call “reminded her of what she used to hear listening to mob wiretaps,” according to Raw Story.

Wallace started by parroting the Democrat Party talking point on the call, which is lamenting the party’s view – unconfirmed since no one knows what was said – that President Trump did not warn Putin to stay out of the 2020 election.

“Official after official, when brought up to Capitol Hill, has bemoaned the fact there’s no top-down order to tell Russia to stay out of our democracy,” Wallace said.

“There’s no order,” Rocah responded. “He’s doing the opposite.

“This phone call between Trump and Putin today reminded me of what we would call – when we were on wires of criminals and listening to their conversations and they didn’t know it – the ‘get your story straight’ call. They would do something, they didn’t know we were listening to them after whatever crime they just committed, they robbed a bank or whatever, then they’re on the phone, sort of talking, kind of sort of in code, but it’s a yeah, ‘when we went to the store earlier and I bought the milk,’ you know, they’re making their cover story, congratulating each other, patting each other on the back, saying, ‘It’s all good, we made it, we didn’t get caught. That’s what this reminded me of.

“If you look at the obstruction that Trump, I think, clearly committed, it was obstruction of the investigation into Russia, not just Trump, but into Russia’s actions. And that’s what this phone call was about.”

Aaron Blake of the Washington Post wrote that the call was part of a “long-emerging pattern in Donald Trump’s presidency: He talks to an authoritarian leader, and then he says or does something they like.” He said this was the case in Syria, although he did not mention which conversation with which foreign authoritarian leader triggered his plan to withdraw from the war there.

“On Friday, he did it again, this time with Russian President Vladimir Putin,” Blake wrote. “After he spoke to Putin on the phone for an hour, Trump held a news conference with the prime minister of the Slovak Republic. The first thing he emphasized was that Putin wasn’t going to get involved in the deteriorating situation in Venezuela.”

The Post’s straight news story on the call – “Trump says he talked to Putin about ‘Russian Hoax’ but not about ongoing election interference,” by Anne Gearan, John Wagner and Anton Troianovski – repeated two statements that have become stock examples of their bias against Trump.

“Russian election interference in 2016 included a social media campaign that favored Trump and disparaged Democrat Hillary Clinton, as well as the hacking of computers maintained by allies of Clinton and the subsequent release of stolen documents.”

Russia’s social media campaign also disparaged Trump and favored Clinton at times – a point mainstream media almost refuses to acknowledge. As for the hacking, evidence the Russians were involved is sketchy, intelligence officials who made that declaration are now being investigated and Wikileaks insists the hacked emails did not come from the Russians.

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