Nicholas Fondacaro

In a remarkably oblivious segment during CNN’s The Lead on Thursday, host Jake Tapper and his panel ripped into Congressional Republicans for rushing to use the missing FBI text messages and ‘selective leaks’ to claim conspiracy. The exchange was particularly mind-boggling since CNN conducts its brand of journalism in a similar fashion. It actually allowed them to win three out of their four trophies in President Trump’s Fake News Awards.

Tapper was in desperate need of a mirror for self-reflection when he began the ridiculous segment by criticizing Republican Senator Ron Johnson (Wisc.) for former Republican Congressman-turned CNN commentator Mike Rogers.

The secret society story exploded after Senator Ron Johnson the Republican Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee was on Fox News talking about the secret society text,” Tapper recalled. “Sources now say that was in reference to a gag gift, that the text was a joke … Do you think Congressional Republicans perhaps should have waited to learn more before pushing the narrative of a secret society?

The CNN host effectively conflated Johnson’s claims of having a whistleblower with the FBI text messages. And what made Tapper’s assertion even more laughable was that CNN had a knack pushing out false and misleading stories based on bad information. They actually had to fire three reporters for falsely reporting a Trump administration official had improper contact with Russians.

Congressman Rogers lamented how Republicans were acting: “Absolutely. I think the most dangerous place on Capitol Hill now is between any hearing of this and a microphone. I don’t care Democrat or Republican. And this shows me how dangerous, hopefully, shows them how dangerous it is.” Rather ironic considering what outlet he was currently on.

 

 

And this is what worries me about this is they are running out there with whatever they see that they like in order to try to impugn in a very big public way, the FBI’s investigation,” Rogers continued. His comments there sounded very much like how CNN acted with any information about Trump. Veteran reporter Jeff Greenfield even admitted that the news outlet acted as though a Trump indictment was imminent.

Tapper then turned to CNN legal analyst Laura Coates and acted offended by Johnson’s use of leaks: “What do you think of this? Especially what do you make of the selective leaks? For instance, we found out about the existence of the words ‘secret society’ before we even found out the context of it.” And she responded with an indignant rant about how terrible it all was:

Well, you are seeing here is a tarring and feathering in the public square because they’re congressmen out there who believe that innuendo has become exceptionally persuasive in the court of public opinion … So when you have these selective leaks, what they are trying to do is put in their back pocket some type of information that could attack the credibility of the investigation, even before the results of that investigation are given. And if innuendo is going to be enough to persuade the public, we’re in for a scary ride.

Again, looking back on CNN’s checkered past, we see that they had to massively correct a report last December that falsely claimed that the Trump team had early access to the WikiLeaks documents. That report was sourced by selective leaks. Tapper himself had actually put out a report based on bad sources last year.

CNN really needs some self-reflection before slamming others for similar transgressions to theirs. Or perhaps they didn’t want anyone else horning in on their turf.

The relevant portions of the transcript are below:

CNN
The Lead
January 25, 2018
4:23:09 PM Eastern

(…)

JAKE TAPPER: Congressman, let me start with you. The secret society story exploded after Senator Ron Johnson the Republican Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee was on Fox News talking about the secret society text. Sources now say that was in reference to a gag gift, that the text was a joke. What do you think? And do you think Congressional Republicans perhaps should have waited to learn more before pushing the narrative of a secret society?

MIKE ROGERS: Absolutely. I think the most dangerous place on Capitol Hill now is between any hearing of this and a microphone. I don’t care Democrat or Republican. And this shows me how dangerous, hopefully, shows them how dangerous it is. If there’s 50,000 texts of which they’re going through the forensic capability of retrieving now, you should wait until you say anything, about a secret society or anything, until you know. One text out of, clearly, more than 50,000 does not a conspiracy make. And this is what worries me about this is they are running out there with whatever they see that they like in order to try to impugn in a very big public way, the FBI’s investigation.

(…)

TAPPER: Laura, what do you think of this? Especially what do you make of the selective leaks? For instance, we found out about the existence of the words “secret society” before we even found out the context of it.

LAURA COATES: Well, you are seeing here is a tarring and feathering in the public square because they’re congressmen out there who believe that innuendo has become exceptionally persuasive in the court of public opinion. When you have Robert Mueller and his team who are refusing to leak on their own or give information about either the state of the investigation or the result of the investigation or the process of information, people are looking for bread crumbs and trying to put it out there themselves.

So when you have these selective leaks, what they are trying to do is put in their back pocket some type of information that could attack the credibility of the investigation, even before the results of that investigation are given. And if innuendo is going to be enough to persuade the public, we’re in for a scary ride.

(…)