Accuracy in Media

A Senate committee – as did a House committee before it – has concluded President Trump did not collude with the Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign, and the media can’t stand it.

“Trump claims ‘no collusion’ with Russia as leading Democrat says conclusion is premature,” read the headline on John Wagner’s story in the Washington Post – Trump only echoed the claim made by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The story for the Post was not that two years of intense investigation, interviews with more than 200 witnesses and reviews by joint staffers of more than 300,000 documents have turned up no evidence of collusion, as Sen. Burr said. It was that Democrats are trying to keep the door open.

“President Trump continued Wednesday to highlight statements by the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee that it has found no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign even as the panel’s top Democrat said that assessment is premature,” Wagner wrote.

Wagner referenced a tweet from Trump that read: The Senate Intelligence Committee: THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA!”

He then wrote: “[Trump] was referencing comments by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the committee’s chairman, that to this point its investigation has not found direct evidence of coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russia in the 2016 presidential race.”

The “to this point” is disingenuous because Wagner knows Burr said in a press conference this week the committee had exhausted all avenues and interviewed all witnesses and was in the process of writing its report.

Wagner then quotes Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the top Democrat on the committee, saying, “I’m not going to get into any conclusions I’ve reached because my basis of this has been that I’m not going to reach any conclusion until we finish the investigation.”

NBC took a similar tack in “Senate has uncovered no direct evidence of conspiracy between Trump campaign and Russia” – subhead: “’We were never going to find a contract signed in blood saying, ‘Hey Vlad, we’re going to collude,’’ one Democratic aide said.”

“After two years and 200 interviews, the Senate Intelligence Committee is approaching the end of its investigation into the 2016 election, having uncovered no direct evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to both Democrats and Republicans on the committee,” read the lead on Ken Dilanian’s story.

“But investigators disagree along party lines when it comes to the implications of a pattern of contacts they have documented between Trump associates and Russians – contacts that occurred before, during and after Russian intelligence operatives were seeking to help Donald Trump by leaking hacked Democratic emails and attacking his opponent, Hillary Clinton, on social media.”

There is considerable doubt over whether Russians hacked Democrat emails.

Dilanian wrote: “Democrat Senate investigators who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity did not dispute Burr’s characterizations, but said they lacked context,” then used the quote from the subhead about the contract in blood.

CNN focused on the fact Warner disagreed with Burr’s statement in “Warner splits with Burr on collusion question” by Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju. Warner did not split with Burr; he merely said he was waiting for the investigation to end to conclude anything.

CNN produced another story for the Gray Television Group that took care to point out: “The Intelligence Committee investigation has no bearing on the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.”

Politico pointed out in “Senate Intelligence chairman: No evidence of Trump-Russia collusion” by Matthew Choi that Burr also said the investigation could “occupy the committee ‘for the next decade’ and that portions of the final report could be so classified that they are never revealed to the public.”

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