Media criticism vis a vis how the NY Times, Washington Post, CNN and other mainstream outlets cover the Trump administration as opposed to the Obama administration is all the rage through the first four months with President Trump in office.
Some of the criticism is fair, but some of it also falls into the “Well what about……?” area when trying to deflect attention away from reporting focused on the Trump administration. Sometimes in the need to “prove” how some mainstream media outlets are supposedly “ignoring” news the critics just get it wrong.
This happened recently with Fox News and Eric Wemple wrote about it:
Conservatives last week devoured a story by John Solomon and Sara Carter at Circa with this title, “Obama intel agency secretly conducted illegal searches on Americans for years.” The Obama administration, noted the story, had “routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall.”
That sort of misfeasance merited followup by the mainstream media, according to various voices on the right. NewsBusters scolded, “Nets Blackout Massive Constitutional Violations by Obama’s NSA.” PJ Media: “Shock: Complete MSM News Blackout on NSA Illegal Spying Bombshell.” Mollie Hemingway of the Federalist did a social-media roundup of the un-coverage:
NYT: Zero stories on news Obama intel agencies secretly conducted illegal searches on Americans for years https://t.co/kGRwzCSCaL
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) May 25, 2017
Fox News correspondent James Rosen also pushed the mainstream-media blackout notion on the evening news program “Special Report with Bret Baier.” On Thursday, he credited Circa for being the first to obtain the documents related to the NSA story, and then said this about the amount of pickup the revelations have triggered: “The sheer scale of the Fourth Amendment violations disclosed is staggering as was the sternness of the rebuke to the Obama administration delivered by the FISA court which ordinarily approves 99.9 percent of the government’s request for surveillance,” said Rosen. “As of a few minutes ago, however, Bret, the story had not been covered on The Washington Post, New York Times, nor any of the three nightly news broadcasts on the three broadcast networks.”
There’s only one problem: The NY Times not only covered the story, they broke the story nearly a month earlier on April 28th. The story was on page 1 of the NY Times, written by Charlie Savage:
The National Security Agency said Friday that it had halted one of the most disputed practices of its warrantless surveillance program, ending a once-secret form of wiretapping that dates to the Bush administration’s post-Sept. 11 expansion of national security powers.
The agency is no longer collecting Americans’ emails and texts exchanged with people overseas that simply mention identifying terms — like email addresses — for foreigners whom the agency is spying on, but are neither to nor from those targets.
The decision is a major development in American surveillance policy. Privacy advocates have argued that the practice skirted or overstepped the Fourth Amendment.
Not only that, but Fox News also got it wrong on The Washington Post not reporting it. James Rosen is an excellent journalist, and he took to the air to correct the record, giving credit to the NY Times for breaking the story and providing follow-up as well as credit to the Washington Post for covering the story as well.
As for the publication credited with “breaking” a story reported nearly a month earlier, their excuse for not linking to the NY Times or Washington post comes off as disingenuous:
The Circa reporters could have saved the Internet a lot of panting if they had only linked to Savage’s story, not to mention The Post’s piece. Asked about that omission, Solomon responded that the New York Times story wasn’t enterprise reporting. It was “an announcement story,” Solomon told this blog. Savage’s April 28 story, however, preceded the NSA announcement. “Like many important details in the article he co-wrote, Solomon got that wrong,” says Savage in a statement to this blog. “The New York Times’ April 28 story was not a write-up of a N.S.A. announcement. Rather, based on sources, I learned what happened and we published an exclusive enterprise article around 1 p.m. on our website. The N.S.A. issued its statement about three hours later, as reporters at other news outlets were writing their own stories about the news.”
I have issues with the NY Times and Washington Post from time to time. Like any media outlet, they at times exhibit sloppiness or overhyped coverage to issues that is different based on party affiliation.
Most of the time, both newspapers do good reporting. Looking for reasons to scream bias without doing much digging can end up with embarrassing results like this.