Fox News' first reporting in response to two breaking news articles about President Donald Trump and Russia primarily pushed the White House’s talking points. Fox’s White House correspondent, Kevin Corke, stated it was “interesting the way” the White House noted the timing of the articles’ release by insinuating “that this is a coordinated attack on this White House” by the media. Corke was talking about The New York Times report that Trump told Russian officials that his firing of former FBI Director James Comey relieved “great pressure” on him, and The Washington Post report that the “investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest.” After echoing the White House’s allegations of suspicious timing, Corke also pushed the White House’s talking point accusing the Times report of breaking the law, stating “The New York Times story ... is an interesting one because it effectively, if you listen to the White House, violates the law.” From the May 19 edition of Fox News' Shepard Smith Reporting:
JON SCOTT (HOST): Breaking news. We have just learned of two major bombshells in the Russia investigation. The first one involves President Trump's conversation with Russia's foreign minister and U.S. ambassador during their visit to the White House this month. The two Russians spoke with President Trump in the Oval Office the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey. The New York Times reports the president told Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job.” And, “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off.” The White House says Comey's investigation did create unnecessary pressure on U.S.-Russian relations. The White House is also not denying a report from The Washington Post that investigators in the Russia case have identified a current senior White House official as a significant person of interest. Kevin Corke, live at the White House with more. Kevin?
KEVIN CORKE: Jon, very interesting. I had a conversation with a White House official not long ago, and it was interesting the way she put it. She said, “Don't you find it interesting that the Times and the Post released these stories after the president took off for his trip overseas?” Making the insinuation that this is a coordinated attack on this White House, the likes of which we have seen for quite some time.
They are however not denying, or at least on the record, denying the substance of either report, but they are releasing statements. Let me just share part of what [White House press secretary] Sean Spicer had to say in particular about that Washington Post story, the suggestion that the Russia probe is now involving current White House officials at the highest level of government. Spicer saying in this, and I quote, “As the president has stated before, a thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity.” I have said that all day long based on my conversations with White House officials, and they continue to say as much as well.
The New York Times story, on the other hand, is an interesting one because it effectively, if you listen to the White House, violates the law because we're talking about a conversation that has now been disclosed to the public. Let me share again part of what Sean Spicer had to say about The New York Times reporting of that conversation that you just laid out in the Oval Office. And again I'm quoting now, “The president has always emphasized the importance of making deals with Russia as it relates to Syria, Ukraine, defeating ISIS, and other key issues for the benefit and safety of the American people. By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia's actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia.” He goes on to add, “The investigation would have always continued, and obviously the termination of Comey would not have ended it.” Lastly he adds, “Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations.” Those, of course, the words of Sean Spicer. Then the tough part for the White House, as you well point out, this is all going to hit the fan when they get down there on the ground.