If ever there was a case for fake news being fake, it was the post-Mueller report hot takes that emerged on Thursday. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more embarrassing for the purveyors of the Russiagate hoax, the Fourth Estate outdid itself by doubling down on the Russian collusion narrative with the tenacity of Jack from The Titanic clinging to the wooden door.
After two years of nonstop Russiagate coverage, the Mueller report landed with a thud. While the special counsel did find things that are damaging and embarrassing to the Trump campaign, there’s no evidence of criminal conspiracy with Russia—in fact, there’s no evidence of conspiracy at all. Judging from the funereal faces over on cable news, the utter implosion of the Russiagate narrative came like a death in the family. The meltdown was so complete that analysts were left insinuating that Democrats should reprise the Clinton impeachment proceedings.
Of all the disgraces to journalism on Thursday, the most glaring were on CNN. Within minutes of the release of the Mueller report, anchor Jake Tapper was getting reaction from reporters on what was inside the 448-page document. Journalists were literally giving split-second legal opinions on the contents of something they hadn’t yet read, let alone had time to digest.
Sometimes journalists can ably analyze something just after it’s been released because they have advance copies. But we know that wasn’t the case here, because the report was released to the media and the public at the same time. Still, there wasn’t a hint of shame from CNN as its talking heads proffered instant opinions on a document they couldn’t have possibly understood.
CNN host Dana Bash was almost incoherent as she declared on live TV that there was “evidence of collusion” even after Attorney General William Barr had said otherwise. When Jake Tapper gently nudged her by claiming that collusion is “not a legal term,” she offered up a crazy word salad. Trump might not have done anything “criminal,” she said, but the report still showed “collusion in the truest definition of the word”:
BASH: There was no conspiracy, but it turns out, maybe I’m answering my own question, that—I’m sorry, but there was collusion when you look at the actual definition of that term. There wasn’t conspiracy…
TAPPER: Not a legal term, however.
BASH: It’s not a legal term. That’s exactly right. There wasn’t conspiracy, there was no crime committed, according to the special counsel, but on page after page after page, instance after instance, you see people within the Trump campaign and the Russians talking to, coordinating with, one another. Starting with what you said at the beginning when we first got this, Don Jr., to other instances, the Trump Tower meeting, with WikiLeaks. It goes on and on and on. Not criminal, but collusion in the truest definition of the word.
Bash seemed to move through every one of the seven stages of grief on live television as she wondered aloud whether Democrats would “have even more pressure than they had before, intense pressure” to impeach Trump “because of how bad” things in the Mueller report are. At the same time, she admitted that nothing in the report constituted a crime.
I never thought a day would come when CNN would speak positively of the Clinton impeachment proceedings. But Trump Derangement Syndrome has hit the network so hard that legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin did just that.
“A lot of people had no problem with the investigation of Bill Clinton for the very serious matter of lying and obstruction of justice when [there was no] underlying event that was a crime [there] either,” Toobin declared.
The fake news was hardly limited to just CNN. An MSN article, titled “Analysis: Report is a Brutal Indictment for Trump,” was another great case in point. How can a report that exonerates the president be an “indictment”? When it comes to Trump, the media is forever inventing pseudo-legal-speak. Indictment is a word that holds legal weight. But you wouldn’t know it from the way the insta-experts are talking.
The media has long held contradictory beliefs on Russiagate. On the one hand, they think that Trump is an imbecile. On the other, they believe his campaign was capable of the most intricate and serpentine of conspiracies. This contradiction was bound to unravel, but it is still shocking to see journalists still so publicly botching this story.
Barbara Boland is the former weekend editor of the Washington Examiner. Her work has been featured on Fox News, the Drudge Report, HotAir.com, RealClearDefense, RealClearPolitics, and elsewhere. She’s the author of Patton Uncovered, a book about General Patton in World War II. Follow her on Twitter @BBatDC.