Rolling Stone contributing editor Matt Taibbi, who is by no means anything close to a President Donald Trump supporter, reprimanded the media for its coverage of what he called "Russiagate." He accused the media of spreading "fake news" to promote an anti-Trump agenda at the expense of its own credibility.
What did he say?
In a piece for Rolling Stone, Taibbi called out journalists for congratulating themselves about the parts of the Mueller report that they had gotten right in the past two years. This, Taibbi argued, was not nearly enough.
"We're not trying to be right more often than Trump — we're trying to not be wrong, ever. It's a standard, not a competition," he wrote.
"You know what was fake news?" he added. "Most of the Russiagate story. There was no Trump-Russia conspiracy, that thing we just spent three years chasing. The Mueller report is crystal clear on this."
He noted that special counsel Robert Mueller's report mentioned that the Russians had tried to reach the Trump campaign but had found the task difficult. "Not only was there no 'collusion,' the two camps didn't even have each others' phone numbers!"
Reporters are going to insist all they did was accurately report the developments of a real investigation. They didn't imply vast criminality that wasn't there, or hoodwink audiences into thinking a Watergate-style ending was just around the corner, or routinely blow meaningless episodes like the Sessions-Kislyak meeting out of proportion, or regularly smear people who not only weren't part of a conspiracy but had no connection to anything.
He called them out for "giving big stages to craven conspiracy-spinners like Malcolm Nance and Luke Harding" and for "denouncing people who doubted the conspiracy as spies and Putin apologists."
When it's all said and done, Taibbi warned, the "fiasco will surely end up being a net plus for Trump."
"The obstruction parts of the report make him look like a brainless goon and thug, but the absence of what Mueller repeatedly calls 'underlying crime' make his ravings about an elitist mob out to get him look justified," he added. "This is not an easy thing to achieve, but we're there, and the press is a big part of that picture."
Taibbi concluded that even die-hard liberals would come to distrust the media for its reckless disregard for journalistic standards.
News audiences were betrayed, and sooner or later, even the most virulently Trump-despising demographics will realize it and tune us out. The only way to reverse the damage is to own how big of a screw-up this was, but after the last three years, who would hold their breath waiting for that?