Mueller Media Madness

March 27, 2019

After nearly two years, the Robert Mueller special counsel investigation has concluded with no charges of coordination or conspiracy between the Donald Trump campaign and the Russians to influence the 2016 election.

The breathless coverage of the investigation did not constitute a banner moment for the television news media.

On MSNBC, Donny Deutsch claimed Trump would eventually fire Mueller—"he's teeing it up"—Nicolle Wallace quoted a Trump ally who said that Trump's "fate was sealed" with Mueller's appointment, Steve Schmidt called the story "perhaps the greatest crime in American history," and Malcolm Nance was still saying this weekend that Trump's actions could "eclipse Benedict Arnold."

Chris Hayes interviewed Jonathan Chait, who said his piece about Trump being a Russian asset since 1987 "might be" true, and Rachel Maddow's ratings soared as she honed in on collusion theories night after night.

On CNN, figures like Chris Cuomo, Jim Acosta, Chris Cillizza and Brian Stelter threw around the term "collusion" like it was already proven as stories about the "Trump Tower meeting" and plans to build another Trump Tower in Moscow were treated like smoking guns.

All the while, numerous stories that purported to be the final nail in Trump's coffin were disputed or retracted, such as a BuzzFeed News story in January that Trump had ordered Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about his meeting with the Russians. Mueller's office came out a day later and said the story wasn't true, but in the 24 hours preceding, MSNBC and CNN went ham on how the story could lead to impeachment "if true."

My colleague Elizabeth Harrington has a good rundown on the numerous media failings regarding this story for the past two years. Here is one in visual form.