As the Russia investigation inches closer to the Oval Office, Donald Trump and his allies have launched an all-out smear campaign aimed at discrediting everyone associated with the probe and the institutions running it.
Fox News has led the charge, with hosts like Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Greg Jarrett, and Lou Dobbs comparing the FBI to Russia’s KGB spy agency, slinging false accusations of corruption, and calling for the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller.
While Fox News is known to be loose with the truth, legendary Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein says the smear campaign against the Russia probe goes much further than that. According to Bernstein, right-wing media figures are “abetting a cover-up.”
On CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” host Brian Stelter asked Bernstein about the impact of the right-wing media’s collective effort to discredit Mueller’s investigation.
“The commentators that you are hearing and showing,” he continued, “are not open in any way to the best obtainable version of the truth, the facts, the context — and who seem to be oblivious of the serial lying of the president of the United States, and members of his family, and those on his staff, and those in the Trump organization — yes, they are abetting a cover-up.”
STELTER: You say this is ‘abetting a cover-up?’
BERNSTEIN: Yes, it abets a cover-up, because there is a cover-up going on in the White House, and among Trump’s aides and former aides, relating to these investigations. We do not know specifically what the cover-up is about, whether it constitutes an obstruction of justice or a criminal conspiracy at this point, though there is some evidence that suggests that this might be the case.
But yes — because the commentators that you are hearing and showing there are not open in any way to the best obtainable version of the truth, to facts, to context, who seem to be oblivious to the serial lying of the president of the United States and members of his family and those on his staff and those in the Trump organization — yes, they are abetting a cover-up.
But more importantly, where we need to go again is the idea of making the conduct of the press the issue, the conduct of the prosecutors the issue, making the conduct of everyone the issue except the president of the United States and those around him, including those who have pleaded guilty already.
On Saturday, Trump called for the Washington Post to fire one of its reporters, Dave Weigel, after Weigel issued an apology for tweeting a misleading photo from Trump’s rally in Florida the day before. And at that rally, Trump told the crowd that ABC News should have fired reporter Brian Ross for making an error in a recent story about Michael Flynn.
As Bernstein noted, mistakes happen — but Trump only seems to care about such errors when he can weaponize them for political purposes.
But why would he? Fox is doing a stellar job of deceiving and distracting the American public from the Trump administration’s relentless lies and scandals. He couldn’t ask for a better propaganda arm.