The Media Today

The media today: Muddying the waters ahead of Mueller’s indictments

October 30, 2017

The week dawns with all eyes focused on Robert Mueller’s investigation. After CNN reported on Friday that the first charges in the investigation had been filed, with any charged expected to be taken into custody as soon as Monday, speculation ran rampant and President Trump responded with outrage.

“The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R’s…are now fighting back like never before. There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!” the president said in a series of tweets on Sunday morning.

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No one, save those in Mueller’s camp, knows how the indictments will unfold, but opinion writers at two Rupert Murdoch-owned papers aren’t interested in waiting around to find out. Last week, The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board, citing reporting that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC had funded opposition research the produced the infamous “dossier,” argued that Mueller “could best serve the country by resigning to prevent further political turmoil over that conflict of interest.

That suggestion was echoed by New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin, who added the recently revived controversy over a 2010 deal that gave a Russian company control of more than 20 percent of the US’s uranium-production capacity to a list of reasons why Mueller must resign. On Sunday, the Journal doubled-down with an opinion piece by David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey offering the simple solution that Trump “end this madness by immediately issuing a blanket presidential pardon” to basically anyone involved in any sort of dealing with Russians since the turn of the century, and “to anyone for any offense that has been investigated by Mr. Mueller’s office.”

All caveats about the divide between opinion and hard news aside, it has to be frustrating for reporters at the Journal, who continue to do real reporting on the issue to see their colleagues on the editorial board muddying the waters just days ahead of expected indictments. For those confused by the noise surrounding Clinton’s involvement in the dossier’s origins and the flimsy story about a seven-year-old uranium deal, The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler has a guide to the latest allegations.

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If allowed to continue, the Mueller investigation will likely stretch on for months, and those hoping for a smoking gun at its conclusion may well be disappointed. But calling for the special counsel’s firing on the eve of an indictment being issued doesn’t help a newspaper that has already faced criticism for being too soft in its coverage of an embattled president.

Below, more Mueller, Trump, Russia, and a complex story with no end in sight.

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Pete Vernon is a former CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @ByPeteVernon.