MSNBC, CNN Go From 'Bombshell' to 'Frustrated' After Mueller Disputes BuzzFeed Report

January 21, 2019

MSNBC and CNN reported extensively  on a "bombshell" report from BuzzFeed News that President Donald Trump directed his attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, before shifting gears to a more defensive tone following the report's disputing by special counsel Robert Mueller's office.

BuzzFeed's report Thursday night implicated Trump in a federal crime, but Mueller's office released a statement the following day saying "BuzzFeed's description of specific statements to the Special Counsel's Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen's Congressional testimony are not accurate."

BuzzFeed is standing by its report in the meantime.

While the cable channels' anchors and analysts took care to say the report was possibly damning "if true" throughout the day on Friday, there was still rampant speculation about potential impeachment, proof of obstruction of justice, and the possible end of the Trump presidency.

After Mueller's office disputed the report as "not accurate" Friday evening, the conversation shifted, with some saying the report should have been treated more skeptically all along, while others expressed frustration with Mueller's office for not saying what specifically about the piece was incorrect.

CNN's Chris Cuomo sniffed that Mueller "didn't do the media any favors tonight" but had done one for the White House. While CNN's Jeffrey Toobin fretted the news media looked bad in its coverage, "Reliable Sources" host Brian Stelter cautioned against letting the media be defined to the public by politicians as crooks, or as Toobin put it, "leftist liars."

MSNBC's Chris Matthews and Jonathan Capehart said Mueller's office didn't necessarily mean the thrust of the story wasn't true.