Veteran journalist Carl Bernstein, of Woodward and Bernstein Watergate reporting fame, pronounced on CNN that the media's reporting of the Mueller investigation wasn't just good, it was "one of the great reporting jobs in history."
On Friday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller finally submitted his report after more than two years of investigation into whether or not President Donald Trump had colluded with Russia in order to win the 2016 presidential election. While Mueller's full report hasn't been released yet, thanks to a letter from Attorney General William Barr, we do know that it contains no more indictments. It also found no evidence of collusion, although it did find that Russia itself had tried to influence the election.
Mueller's team concluded, according to a direct quote included in Barr's letter, that "while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him." While this might not go as far to clear the president as Trump's team had hoped, it certainly isn't the bombshell that the president's opponents had been anticipating.
Many media outlets, including CNN, had eagerly awaited the release of this report, and had assumed that it would bring nothing but bad news for Trump.
Bernstein, however, seemed unfazed by the reports rather anticlimactic release after months of media hype. On Sunday's edition of CNN's Reliable Sources, Bernstein said that he thought that all but "40 percent, 45 percent of the most intense Trump supporters" in the country thought that the media had "done a really good job" with their coverage of the investigation. "I think we've done — the media, the press — has done one of the great reporting jobs in history, especially of covering a presidency by the most news organizations," he said.
"If it turns out that there was a lot of smoke but no fire, is that a failure of the press to focus so much on all the smoke?" Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter asked Bernstein.
Bernstein dismissed this notion. "There has been plenty of fire regardless of whether or not there's a finding of whether or not Donald Trump is guilty of a crime" he argued. He said that he hoped the Mueller report would include an "explanation" about why (not if) Trump had "wittingly, unwittingly, half wittingly done Putin's bidding" and if Trump is a "tool" of Russia.
Bernstein also said, according to RedState, that any falsehoods regarding Mueller's investigation had not come from the media. "Let's look at where the disinformation and mistakes and lying have come from. It hasn't come from the press; it's come from the President of the United States and those around him."
Scott Whitlock, associate editor at the Media Research Center, said that Bernstein's take was typical for a journalist. "The networks spent almost two years and 2,284 minutes hyping this Russia probe as doom for Donald Trump. And what was the result? A whole lot of nothing. So to call it 'one of the greatest reporting jobs in history' shows just how tone deaf outlets like CNN are. But it's not surprising. Self criticism has never been a strong point for the mainstream media."