Months ago, the Old Media proclaimed that President Donald Trump was more than a bit nutty in insisting his campaign was the subject of surveillance by the Obama administration. Now it's emerging that this wasn't the slightest bit nutty.
The New York Times reported — in a tone much like having its fingernails dragged across a chalkboard — that the FBI used an "informant" (not a "spy"!) to chat up (and in one case, dangle money at) Trump staffers and investigate Russian finagling with the 2016 election.
As one might expect, since this is considered a "pro-Trump" narrative, it must be shot down, even as the facts are coming together.
Writing in the Daily Beast, "conservative" CNN political commentator Matt Lewis warned that "there are tens of millions of Americans living in this alternative universe" who think this spying on "inexperienced and sketchy" Trump campaign aides was "nefarious." "(Y)ou have to believe that the intelligence community is wholly corrupt and utterly politicized — that there was a conspiracy (at least, at the top) to stop Trump from becoming president," he said. "(T)his requires a conspiratorial mind."
That's funny. Right after the election, that was the sour-grapes line from Team Clinton. A "vast right-wing conspiracy" at the FBI under former Director James Comey conspired to stop Clinton from becoming president with his blundering announcements about her private email server. But that wasn't considered nutty. That was what good Democrats believed. Once Trump fired Comey, the campaign conspiracy narrative switched sides.
Here's what conservatives can declare to Matt Lewis: Our media are wholly corrupt and utterly politicized and were transparently dedicated to stopping Trump from becoming president. That's not a kooky conspiracy theory. No one who witnessed their reporting in 2015 and 2016 should doubt it. It would not have been difficult for Team Obama to collude with them.
We would ask Lewis: Doesn't pushing the idea that Trump colluded with the Russians require "a conspiratorial mind"? Is it fair to speculate endlessly on CNN and MSNBC about how special counsel Robert Mueller might prove collusion, when he hasn't done so after a year of trying? The media don't have to prove their Trump conspiracy theory to damage Trump's political standing. It can keep that black cloud of speculation hanging over his head on every front page and every newscast.
Try this intellectual exercise: Imagine that the Justice Department under former President George W. Bush had sent a spy/informant into the Obama campaign in 2008 to see whether foreign powers were attempting to influence its "inexperienced and sketchy" aides. Hundreds of media heads would have exploded.
Now we're at a point where we should be asking what Obama's top intelligence hacks, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-CIA Director John Brennan, were cooking in 2016. But guess what. CNN hired Clapper, and NBC News hired Brennan. Now they are paid by the networks to tell the folks at home that Trump is nutty for insisting they did anything nefarious. Were Clapper and Brennan leaking anti-Trump dirt to the networks that have since hired them? Wouldn't that look "wholly corrupt and utterly politicized"?
John Fund wrote in National Review that while in a greenroom of a network, he asked a journalist this question: Can't the media spend time exploring why Team Obama sent a spy/informant into the opposing party's campaign? "There's only room for one narrative on all this," the reporter replied. "And it's all about Trump." So much for following the facts wherever they lead instead of carefully curating facts against Trump.
Why must Matt Lewis and his media pals bemoan "two Americas" — one painted as soberly fact-based and the other destined for a rubber room — instead of considering both narratives?
L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.