Lately, there’s emerged a new reason for the president’s obsessive preference for fiercely biased right wing media sources over more legitimate sources of information. Special Counsel for the Russia investigation Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump team has intensified in recent weeks, with the first charges being unveiled late last month.
Although the president has indeed tried to discredit Mueller as a person in the past, he has not done so recently, sticking to more broad criticism in the wake of charges against his former campaign manager Paul Manafort and others. However, where the president has slacked in his obsessive criticism of Mueller, right wing media personalities like Fox News’ Sean Hannity have been right there to pick up the slack.
A study released this week by Media Matters for America found that Hannity or a guest on his show has called for Mueller to cease his leadership of the Russia investigation a total of 56 times.
Concurrent to that, Hannity or one of his guests have suggested that Mueller has a “conflict of interest” at least 228 times since mid-May of this year.
As Media Matters went on to explain, that’s not where Hannity’s obsession with going after Mueller ends.
Taking cues from the president, Hannity or one of his guests have attacked Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt” some 22 times. Trump has used that phrase speaking of the Russia investigation on numerous times, even though at this point, the fact that some of his team members have faced charges discredits the idea that the investigation is just a “witch hunt.”
Hannity’s attacks on Mueller have most often come after Russia-related stories in the press, as Trump’s attacks on the Russia investigation have come.
Hannity isn’t alone in going after Mueller among right wing media outlets. The Wall Street Journal has done so as well.
The publication’s editorial board published an article reading, in part:
‘It is no slur against Mr. Mueller’s integrity to say that he lacks the critical distance to conduct a credible probe of the bureau he ran for a dozen years.’
Their idea is that Mueller, who is himself a former head of the FBI, can’t investigate an FBI-related aspect to the Russia scandal. President Trump is accused of obstruction of justice for abruptly firing FBI Director James Comey earlier this year. Comey was, at the time, leading the Russia investigation; some time after Comey’s firing, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller to his present position as Special Counsel.
Another Republican talking point about a Mueller “conflict of interest” is that he, as head of the FBI when the supposedly legally condemning Uranium One scandal went down, can’t investigate anything related to the matter. (There’s nothing to investigate.)
Indicating just how out there Republican news personalities are in their criticism of Mueller, Republican Congressional leaders have beat back against the criticism, and it’s not like they normally are in line with the opinions of the majority of the population.
In July, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan stated:
‘Remember, Bob Mueller is a Republican who was appointed by a Republican, who served in the Republican administration and crossed over, I mean, and stayed on until his term ended. But — I don’t think many people are saying Bob Mueller is a person who is a biased partisan. He’s really sort of anything but.’
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has expressed similar sentiments.
To be sure, just because Trump hasn’t attacked Mueller’s personal credibility relatively recently doesn’t mean that he hasn’t shown himself willing to do so at some point in the future.
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