From the January 28 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
BRIAN STELTER (HOST): The pro-Trump media is escalating its war on Robert Mueller. One of their weapons is confusion. So, the challenge for you and for me is to refuse to be confused. Let's lay it all out here.
Almost every day there is at least one new revelation about how many people Robert Mueller has interviewed and how much the special counsel investigation has learned about the inner workings of Trump world. Mueller knows the president has repeatedly tried to pressure law enforcement officials and impede the investigation into Russian interference. So, leak by leak, like the ones that were there onscreen, it becomes clear Trump is in more and more of a precarious situation.
So, with those leaks in mind, here is how it works. The worst it seems to get for Trump, the wilder the conspiracy theories get, the crazier the counter-narrative from Trump's allies. Check this out. This is a montage, just a few of the examples this week talking about the deep state, terrible texts, and secret societies.
A spy novel? Fiction writing actually sounds like a great fit for Sean Hannity. Because he's no good at the facts. When GOP congressmen started talking about an alleged secret society of anti-Trump FBI agents, Hannity ran with it. But when the full context came out and the secret society text looked like a dumb joke, Hannity dropped it. That's how it works. They then find some other way to attack Mueller. But the message is always the same. See these “Muellergate” banners from Hannity the other night? It straight up says onscreen “Investigating the investigators.” Fox's message is that Trump is the victim of a deep state plot to ruin his presidency. And remember, the president watches this stuff and reacts to it. So one day, he tweets during Fox & Friends that the missing text message thing is “one of the biggest stories in a long time.” And then, again during the Laura Ingraham show [The Ingraham Angle] at night: “Where are the 50,000 important text messages.” Now this is about the two FBI officials that were secretly dating and constantly texting each other trashing Trump and other politicians. Of course, Trump totally mangled the facts about this in his tweets, I mean, yes the two employees did talk a lot and the DOJ reviewed 50,000 text messages in total but we don't actually know how many texts went missing and it's a moot point now since they've been found. But do you see what's happening here? The more we talk about texts and jokes and memos, the further we get from Trump dishonesty, his unstable behavior, and his attempts to undermine the Russia probes. This is what it means to have two different universes of information.
The challenge for us as news consumers and the challenge for people like me as reporters is to refuse to be confused, to refuse to fall for all these traps, all these theories, all this noise and instead to stay focused on the huge story that's unfolding in Washington.