Accuracy in Media

Rachel Maddow reported this week that she had obtained a secretly recorded tape of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, speaking at a fundraiser for House Republican Conference chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, (R-Wash.).

On the tape, Nunes said that if Democrats win the House in November, they will spend the next two years harassing Trump in every way imaginable.

The money quote from Nunes: “So therein lies, so it’s like your classic Catch-22 situation, where we’re at, it puts us in such a tough spot,” he said. “If Sessions won’t un-recuse this fall and Mueller won’t clear the president, we’re the only ones – which is really the danger. That’s why I keep, and thank you for saying it, by the way, I mean, we have to keep all those seats. We have to keep the majority. If we do not keep the majority, all of this goes away.”

The recording – and the reception it received in the mainstream media – are fake news mainly because Nunes is right – Democrats have promised from virtually Day 1 of the Trump presidency to impeach him if they ever got control of the House. A Republican saying at a campaign event for a Republican candidate that it is important to win and keep that from happening is not seditious or unusual or evidence of obstruction of justice in any way.

Nunes’ remarks were of a pattern, Maddow said.

“He has turned that important job of leading the intelligence committee into a full-time crusade of trying to derail the Russia investigation by any means necessary and to defend Trump in that investigation at almost any cost.”

“Congressman Nunes has pressured the Justice Department and the FBI into making unprecedented disclosures of law-enforcement-sensitive material and classified information that’s actively being used in ongoing open investigations,” she said. “The man has been acrobatic to the point of contortion in his efforts to make the Russia investigation go away and to turn the investigation of that attack into a bigger scandal than the attack itself.”

She was not the only one in the media for which this was a conjured aha moment.

“Behind closed doors, Trump’s allies acknowledge that the election is about protecting the president from impeachment,” reporter Tina Nguyen of Vanity Fair wrote in an article headlined, “Captured On A Secret Recoding, Devin Nunes Says the Quiet Part Out Loud.”

“The House Intelligence Committee chairman has essentially leveraged his position into a potent political weapon against the FBI, the Department of Justice and the U.S. intelligence community, brandishing a bogus memo as proof of intelligence abuses, feeding the hungry far-right conspiracy mill, and bolstering the president’s claim that Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign is a witch hunt.”

Nguyen did not mention the Department of Justice’s own Inspector General released a report that corroborated the findings of the Nunes memo or that Mueller has been investigating Trump for nearly two years now with no evidence of collusion or obstruction of justice found.

But it is Nunes who is getting desperate, Nguyen wrote.

“The Republican Party’s outlook for 2018 has always been particularly grim. Fueled by anti-Trump enthusiasm, even previously safe incumbents are facing a ‘blue wave’ of Democrats – a wave that only gained momentum thanks to election results across the country Tuesday night.”

She did not point out that Republicans won virtually every key race on Tuesday.

“The response from the White House has been to dig in, leaning further into the racist, culture war-centric messaging that propelled Donald Trump to victory in 2016,” she wrote. “And in the absence of a coherent agenda, or any concrete legislative successes – apart from an unpopular tax bill – to parade before the American people, many Republican candidates have fallen back on similar scare tactics, with some running blatantly racist ads or sending dog-whistle tweets about voter registration.”

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