NY Times' Savage: The “Trump-industrial-media complex” is “trying to discredit” Mueller and the Trump/Russia probe

Charlie Savage: Attacks from Trump's media allies are “trickling down through people like Ann Coulter or Newt Gingrich and then into right-wing news outlets like Breitbart and so forth”

From the June 16 edition of MSNBC Live:

Video file

STEPHANIE RUHLE (CO-HOST): Charlie, take us to Robert Mueller here. As you pointed out in your New York Times piece, Robert Mueller is there to stay above the fray. It's what he's done his whole career. And he's certainly in the thick of it, or the president wants him to be in the thick of it. 

CHARLIE SAVAGE: Yeah, I would say it more the way you said it the second time. Robert Mueller is trying -- as he has successfully done, until now, his whole career -- to stay above the partisan fray, to sort of remain detached from things that take on the sort of polarized, in-the-muck fights. So far, his investigation is being very quiet. They're not responding to things. They're not preemptively putting out information like who they're hiring and so forth. And they're just trying to stay out of the press as much as they can. But not only are things about that investigation continuing to leak, but the president and the sort of Trump-industrial-media complex that surrounds him, trickling down through people like Ann Coulter or Newt Gingrich and then into right-wing news outlets like Breitbart and so forth, are preemptively attacking him, preemptively attacking the people he's hiring, sort of trying to discredit the investigation before it's had a chance to determine what happened and then make any recommendations. 

RUHLE: Is that working though? If you think about the attacks they're making on Robert Mueller, for example, to go after Robert Mueller and the people who he's hired, saying, “Well, they've given money to Democrats,” well so has basically the entire Trump family, including President Trump himself. We know that Kellyanne Conway coming out there and saying -- this is the woman that coined the term “alternative facts,” who told the audience on Today show, “Please don't pay attention to the president's tweets. The media cares too much about it” when Sean Spicer, at the podium during a presser, said, “Consider these official White House statements.” So this strategy that the president successfully used on the campaign trail, discredit and push aside, is that actually going to work for a guy like Bob Mueller? 

SAVAGE: Well I ask you, what do you mean by work? So for the Trump supporters, they're not going to hear that, right? They're just going to hear what they read in Breitbart or whatever and say, “Oh this is a biased campaign, and the president is a victim of bad people, and we still support him.” And the people who watch MSNBC will hear the other side and dismiss the whole thing, and that's part of this sort of polarized America and two different sets of facts, or “alternative facts,” as you mentioned, that are reaching different segments of the public. But you're definitely right, that this is part of a pattern we've seen going back to the campaign. Think about when the president was being sued for fraud over Trump University, and he preemptively sort of attacked the judge -- he was biased against him because he was Mexican-American -- before there was any ruling, to sort of discredit any ruling that would go badly against the president ahead of time. 

RUHLE: Yeah, and attacking Judge Curiel did nothing to help President Trump. It hurt him.

SAVAGE: Well, the case settled so we don't know what Curiel would have done. Or, when the health care bill was going to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office and they knew that the numbers were probably going to be bad, this White House says, “Oh, you can't trust them anyway. They're inaccurate all the time.” Sort of softening up the, perhaps, bearer of bad tidings before those tidings arrive. 


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