Thanks to an overly zealous liberal press that has grown bored with its function of reporting on actual news, Attorney General Jeff Sessions finds himself in the midst of a manufactured scandal. The “scandal” centers on words the senator never said, in response to a paraphrased question he was never really asked during his confirmation hearing. And this is what constitutes a “scandal” in the media’s eyes.
Mainstream media outlets, including The Washington Post, Time, CNN, PBS, and others have made the allegation that Mr. Sessions was asked during his confirmation hearing before the Senate if he had ever met with Russian officials, and that Mr. Sessions lied in his response when he failed to disclose a few such meetings. The liberal media outlets, undeterred by reality and the actual facts, have created a narrative that hinges on two essential falsehoods: that then-Sen. Sessions held private meetings with Russian officials at the behest of the Donald Trump campaign, and that he denied those meetings during his confirmation hearing.
But the mainstream media’s narrative begs two questions: 1) What exactly did Jeff Sessions say in response to the questions during his hearing? and 2) What exactly were those “meetings” with Russian diplomats?
The transcript of the confirmation hearing shows that Sen. Al Franken posed a hypothetical to Sen. Sessions, asking what he would do, once confirmed to the position of attorney general, if it came out that “anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign.”
Then-Sen. Sessions answered the question that was asked, speaking very narrowly about his and other Trump campaign surrogates’ meetings with Russian officials. His response, in full: “Senator Franken, I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn’t have - did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.”
The Washington Post, which has been one of the chief orchestrators of the fake scandal, wrote a scathing (and quite lengthy) article about the hearing and Mr. Sessions’ allegedly misleading response. But the ace reporters at the Washington Post failed to include the actual question that was posed to Mr. Sessions. Now, how’s that for reporting?
As far as the “meetings” in question, one of the meetings the hyper-sensitive media keyed in on was a speech then-Sen. Sessions gave at a Heritage Foundation event in Cleveland timed around the Republican National Convention. Following the speech, the Russian ambassador approached Mr. Sessions, and an informal “meeting” on the sidelines followed.
The media’s willingness to play fast-and-loose with the facts surrounding Mr. Sessions’ confirmation hearing in order to produce a news story out of thin air contrasts sharply with the past years of journalistic lethargy, during which the media could barely be bothered to report on actual scandals.
Take, for example, the Obama White House’s effort to quash negative comments about the proposed health care overhaul bill through a creepy citizens-reporting-on-fellow-citizens surveillance program. Macon Phillips, the director of New Media in the Obama White House, explained the program this way: “[Rumors about the President’s healthcare plan] often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. … Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
There’s a lot to unpack in Mr. Phillips’ words, from the government’s attempt to monitor free speech, to the apparent borrowing of totalitarian regimes’ habit of enlisting citizens to report on one another to the government. But the media’s response at the time was a disinterested yawn. The scandal barely received any attention.
Another example, of course, comes from the years-long IRS scandal, in which the most feared agency in the federal government singled out conservatives and especially individuals affiliated with the tea party movement for extra scrutiny, delayed non-profit applications, and in some cases subjected these individual to audits based on a purely political agenda.
The scandal was an extraordinary abuse of power, but the mainstream media shrugged and largely took a pass on the story. Each iteration of the scandal - from the repeated lying by IRS senior officials to Congress, to the ongoing malfeasance of the IRS Commissioner - received the same silence from the media.
A liberal media whose double standards lead it, on the one hand, to take creative and inventive license to fabricate stories on a whim, while, on the other hand, sitting silent on stories of extreme importance is hardly befitting a free society.
The American media’s shameful attempt to produce a scandal around Mr. Sessions’ confirmation hearing responses, after nearly a decade of ignoring grave scandals within the Obama administration, exposes a serious double standard that has not gone unnoticed by the American public.
Is it any wonder that subscription rates and viewership numbers for liberal media outlets have declined precipitously over the past decade?