Civics: How Press Bias Fed FISA Abuse in the Trump-Russia Panic

Stewart Baker:

It looks like we’re in the morning-after stage of media coverage of former President Trump and his Russia connections. Most recently, the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) published a harsh analysis of the press’s role in stoking the Trump-Russia panic. The author, Jeff Gerth, is a respected former journalist, and the CJR is more or less the official organ of mainstream media, but the piece is an unsparing chronicle of how the media’s hostility to Trump led it to overhype the Trump-Russia connection. 

Gerth concludes that entering into an “undeclared war” with Trump has saddled the U.S. press with a lasting credibility problem. What’s been unnoticed until now is how the press’s unremitting hostility to Trump also hurt the credibility of the FBI and its intelligence operations. 

The Trump-Russia media saga began with a bit of journalistic malpractice. As the GOP convention was preparing to nominate Trump, Gerth tells us, the Washington Post ran one of the early attacks on Trump for kowtowing to Russian interests: a July 18 opinion column from Josh Rogin headlined, “Trump campaign guts GOP’s anti-Russian stance on Ukraine.” It was wrong. In Gerth’s understated words: