After more than half-a-million web articles on “Russia collusion” generating nearly a quarter of a billion interactions on Facebook and Twitter, the media need to do some serious “soul searching,” contends veteran newsman Brit Hume.
“It is the worst journalistic debacle of my lifetime, and I’ve been in this business about 50 years,” he said in an interview with the Fox News Channel’s Sandra Smith.
Hume was reacting to special counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusion after nearly two years of investigation that the Trump campaign did not collude with the Russian government to win the 2016 presidential election. The special counsel also found no evidence that the president obstructed justice.
“I’ve never seen anything quite this bad last this long,” said Hume, the former ABC News White House correspondent and Fox News anchor.
“It was a terrible thing. It needs to be investigated. There needs to be a lot of soul searching among leading members of the media today and going forward.”
Hume said Congress needs to investigate the behavior of the FBI and the Justice Department “leading up to this getting started.”
Meanwhile, he added, the media need to ask: “How in the world did several major news organs, networks, newspapers, and so on, devote so much time to what turned out to be utterly baseless speculation about the most serious crime you could imagine, mounting in some cases to the accusation of treason?”
Fox News’ Smith asked Hume if he is seeing any admissions of guilt by media members.
“Alas, I am not,” he said. “I’m seeing a handful of honest, liberal journalists who have no use for Trump agreeing that this was bad reporting all the way. And some of them have been doing it for some time,” he said.
“The catalog of baseless speculation and wild accusation is very long, indeed, and I’m seeing very few signs of introspection.”
Hume observed that media is shifting the subject to obstruction of justice, because Mueller was not conclusive about that charge, saying only he found no evidence for it.
“I think that’s likely to turn out to be yet another wild goose chase,” Hume said.
Maybe ‘the worst day ever for our media’
Axios reported NewsWhip counted 533,074 web articles on the special counsel investigation since it began in May 2017. The articles generated 245 million likes, comments and shares on Twitter and Facebook.
According to research by the RNC, the Washington Post published 192 more stories about the Russian interference probe than about the Trump administration’s defeat of ISIS.
The Hill’s Joe Concha pointed out the media missed important stories while it was covering alleged Russia collusion.
“How many Russian collusion stories did we see where an organization, reporters got it wrong and there were actual consequences? I can only name once really on a major level. CNN and Anthony Scaramucci, and three reporters got fired,” Concha said Monday on “Fox & Friends,” according to the Daily Caller.
“Think of the stories we missed as a result of Russia,” Concha said. “The economy’s performance as it pertains to wages or unemployment or growth. The destruction of the ISIS caliphate that suddenly came out of nowhere, it seemed to a lot of people, because no one was really covering it. And the most overlooked story: the opioid epidemic. 70,000 people killed in 2017 alone. That’s more than car crashes. You hardly hear about that and that’s what effects real Americans’ lives.”
Concha said the Mueller report is the biggest “reckoning” the media has seen since 2016.
“Throughout these last 22 months, gossip was treated as gospel. Sources providing information to reporters all too willing to accept it like seagulls at the beach. And look, this is a day of reckoning for our media like we haven’t seen since the 2016 election,” he said.
Concha said it could be “the worst day ever for our media given all that coverage and the pushing of that particular narrative around Russia collusion.”
The Washington Post and New York Times won Pulitzers for their reporting on Russian collusion, he noted, citing political commentator Mollie Hemingway.
“All we heard about was, walls are closing, nooses tightening and this is the beginning of the end,” Concha said. “And now we’re hearing, even yesterday and this morning, this is the beginning of something else. The next chapter. You know why? Because it’s good for ratings and because people want to believe the worst about this president.”