By Brian Flood. Media: Fox News.
The establishment media is being accused of journalistic “negligence” after rushing to dismiss Special Counsel John Durham’s report that reiterated one of its beloved talking points – that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election – was bogus all along.
Despite the liberal pundits and other members of the press pushing the collusion narrative for years, Durham’s 300-page report indicated the Department of Justice and FBI “failed to uphold their mission of strict fidelity to the law” when it launched the Trump-Russia investigation that never found any collusion to begin with.
DePauw University journalism professor Jeffrey McCall believes the lack of interest in the Durham report by the media is “quite disturbing, but not really surprising.”
“The establishment media were so fully gulled and in the tank for the Russian collusion story for so long that they now just can’t acknowledge Durham’s report without also having to eat crow at the same time, something they clearly aren’t willing to do,” McCall told Fox News Digital.
Fox News contributor Joe Concha said the media rejecting Durham’s report is “as predictable as the sun rising in the east,” and feels it reiterates that many MSNBC and CNN pundits simply have no shame.
“John Durham, who has as much credibility as anyone in Washington, concludes the FBI should’ve never launched that investigation, and that the evidence such as the Steele dossier, was limp to begin with,” Concha told Fox News Digital.
“Of course, all of those who insisted the Steele dossier was so credible are the same people now saying you Durham’s conclusion is nothing burger,” Concha continued. “These people have no shame and will never hold themselves to the type of high standards we should expect from those in journalism.”
It wasn’t lost on observers that many of the same people who pushed the Russiagate conspiracy were eager to downplay any investigation into its origins.
CNN contributor Andrew McCabe, the former FBI Deputy Director who was fired by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2018, attempted to downplay Durham’s findings.
“I vehemently disagree with Mr. Durham’s characterizations of what we did in the report and it’s very simple. He betrays a deep misunderstanding of not only what we knew at the time, but how we make these decisions,” McCabe told Anderson Cooper.
“There is nothing new here,” McCabe said, insisting that Durham never intended on producing an honest investigation into the anti-Trump Russia probe.
MSNBC’s Joy Reid enlisted disgraced ex-FBI agent Peter Strzok, who was referenced in the report, to say it was a “predictable, sad ending to an investigation that never should have taken place.”
As McCabe and Strzok poo-pooed the report, Fox News contributor Ben Domenech questioned why they deserve such lofty platforms.
“I don’t see how any network can employ Andrew McCabe or Peter Strzok after this report,” Domenech tweeted. “The sheer mountain of lies they’ve told… it’s incredible.”
I don't see how any network can employ Andrew McCabe or Peter Strzok after this report. The sheer mountain of lies they've told… it's incredible.
— Ben Domenech (@bdomenech) May 16, 2023
CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Strzok is simply a cable news regular not a paid contributor.
But McCabe and Strzok weren’t the only talking heads who attempted to downplay the report.
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough called it a “dud,” and CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy called it a “debacle” in his emotional newsletter.
“Durham’s report concluded without sending a single person to prison, falling far short of the inflated expectations set in the Trump-friendly press,” Darcy wrote. “In fact, after millions of dollars were spent on the years-long investigation, Durham only ultimately secured the conviction of a low-level FBI lawyer who avoided serving jail time.”
MSNBC’s Andrew Weissmann, a former top prosecutor in the Russia investigation, downplayed the findings as “a big fat nothing.”
MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace, one of the most rabid Russiagate proponents in cable news and a staunch Democratic Party sycophant, compared the report to a “rabbit-hole conspiracy” during a panel discussion that included former FBI agent Frank Figliuzzi.
“Durham’s whole thing is predicated on it’s like a rabbit-hole conspiracy that suggests that the Trump-Barr paranoia infected his ability to stand back and evaluate whether the probe yielded guilty convictions of people who would have had nothing to do with any of these questions he looked at,” Wallace said. “It is a view from so far down the rabbit hole that what needs some oversight is what Mr. Durham did for four years that repelled his long-time prosecutorial partner, Nora Dannehy, and other high-level DOJ prosecutors.”
Figliuzzi argued further that Durham “failed miserably” in his report and was likely influenced by an “agenda.”
“John Durham, once highly respected by hard-nosed prosecutors and someone I worked for eons ago as an intern when I was in law school, has twisted himself into a pretzel in an attempt to deliver what he could not deliver,” Figliuzzi said.
Wallace made her comments mere minutes after the massive report was published, indicating she’s either some sort of speed reader or dismissed it without reading the entire document.
CNN legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers declared, “There’s nothing there… this is a political opinion piece, effectively.”
“So this is the deep state conspiracy, right? The FBI was out to get him, they wanted to help Hillary Clinton, although apparently didn’t do it very well, because, of course, she lost,” Rodgers continued.” This was the whole thing. Multiple people at the highest reaches of the FBI were going to go to prison, right? Well, no one went to prison. Two people were charged as a result of Durham’s work. They were both acquitted at trial. This was a whole big nothing. They did not prove this deep state conspiracy because it never existed in the first place.”
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer brought on Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, to spout the left-wing talking point.
“We’ve spent an awful lot of money, as an American government, on a report that essentially proves no wrongdoing,” Escobar told Blitzer.
Political analyst James Carville appeared on MSNBC to dismiss Durham.
“Durham is a kind of pathetic character. Four years, I don’t know how many millions of dollars, I don’t know how many of his friends he hired in his office, to do what? To issue a basically blatantly false report,” Carville told Ari Melber.
McCall blasted MSNBC and CNN for “running with a flimsy story” to push political advocacy.
“This is journalism at its most negligent — running with a flimsy story for months, and yet not having the decency to put things in proper perspective once a comprehensive counter –narrative emerges from Durham,” McCall continued. “This continued negligence demonstrates that too many of the establishment media outlets were never really interested in reporting facts, but instead in activist, agenda-based ‘journalism’ designed to push political advocacy instead of serving the information needs of a democracy.”
Print outlets that pushed Russiagate also said nothing to see here. “The Durham Report Offered Few Conclusions. The Right Drew Its Own,” blared one New York Times headline.
“[T]he Republican interpretation of the final Durham report will feed a narrative of ‘Deep State’ corruption that is fueling not only Mr. Trump’s quest for the White House in 2024 but that of many of his rivals for the Republican nomination,” reporter Jonathan Weisman wrote. “The vilification of federal bureaucracy was already an emerging theme in the fight to be the Republican standard-bearer. Regardless of Mr. Durham’s actual conclusions, his report appears to serve that theme.”
Special Counsel Robert Mueller completed his investigation into a possible Trump-Russia connection in April 2019, which yielded no evidence of criminal conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 election.
“This journalistic malfeasance was bad enough when it was happening originally, but burying the Durham conclusions now means that millions of Americans will never know that the Russian collusion story was baseless, and that government actors were involved in the development of it,” McCall said.
“Today, many Americans are still misinformed and walking around with misguided notions in their heads, not knowing how the Russian collusion hoax has affected the political landscape for years,” he added. “The journalism industry deserves its terrible credibility ratings and this kind of negligence condemns the industry to continued distrust from the public.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Jeffrey Clark, David Rutz and Lindsay Kornick contributed to this report.