When the mainstream media catches up to its previous reporting, is it really a bombshell? That’s the lingering question in the wake of yesterday’s report from CNN that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was wiretapped under the auspices of FISA.
Media figures like CNN’s Brian Stelter and ABC’s Brian Ross refused to believe that the case laid out by CR Editor-in-Chief Mark Levin, back in March, had any merit. If CNN’s recent reporting is true, Levin’s claim that people affiliated with the Trump campaign were surveilled has been proved correct.
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As CR’s Chris Pandolfo has noted, Levin is owed an apology.
Pandolfo summed up Levin’s claims, and the prior reporting.
Levin recounted how in June of 2016, the Obama administration filed a request with the FISA court to monitor communications involving Donald Trump and his advisers, a request that was denied. In October, as Andy McCarthy reported at National Review, the Obama administration tried again, an attempt that was met with success. Top Trump associates became the targets of several intelligence agency investigations.
“The question is,” Levin said last March, “Was Obama surveilling top Trump campaign officials during the election?”
Pandolfo then outlined information that has since bolstered Levin’s initial claims.
Fast forward to April, the Washington Post confirmed Levin’s claims that members of the Trump team were surveilled when they reported that the Obama administration obtained a FISA warrant to surveil former Trump adviser Carter Page. Then we learned that former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice was responsible for unmasking the identities of multiple Trump campaign and transition team officials.
In June, the House Intelligence Committee issued subpoenas to seek information concerning the involvement of three former Obama officials in unmasking Trump officials: former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, former national security adviser Rice, and former CIA director John Brennan.
That is why it is important to look at last night’s CNN story through the lens of prior reporting. Is this new report really a bombshell, or was it expected? It was undoubtedly expected that a story like this would come out — and it has.
It is important to note that while Levin has been vindicated for his claims that some sort of surveillance was going on (if CNN’s report is accurate), Trump’s claim that his lines were wiretapped has not yet been proven. While it now appears that two people – Carter Page and Paul Manafort – associated at one time with the Trump campaign have been the targets of FISA-authorized surveillance, we don’t know if that surveillance happened while they were employed by the campaign. Nevertheless, Stelter and Ross’ combative attitude toward a conservative putting together pieces that mainstream news outlets published reveals much more about them, and their biases.
A presidential administration using the power of the government to surveil political opponents cuts to the very soul of a free society. Using previously published reports in The New York Times, among other sources, Levin made the case that if in fact surveillance was done it would have been a “silent coup” against constitutional governance. Ross, Stelter, and the rest know that is true, which is why they fought back so hard.
Rather than focusing on Trump’s claims that he, himself, was wiretapped, Stelter went on a weeks-long tirade against Levin, beginning after Trump tweeted. He blamed Levin for “reckless” instigation. We now know, as Pandolfo laid out, that Levin was correct in his conclusion.
Now that Levin appears vindicated, Ross and Stelter have been virtually silent on the CNN story. Stelter had a small blurb in his daily email and tweeted out a line from the story. There was no mention that he was wrong to go after Levin, nor any critical analysis of what it means for reporting. Which is par for the course for Stelter, who is more infatuated-MSM-cheerleader than critic of the media (despite his title).
Ross similarly has been silent. In his reporting on Manafort today on “Good Morning America,” Ross made no mention of the Manafort wiretap revelations. It was George Stephanopoulos who had to bring it up in passing. Certainly there was no mention of his dismissal earlier this year of Levin’s claims.
When faced with facts that prove counter to their left-wing narrative, members of the media like Stelter and Ross simply attack the messenger. It is a common tactic. Then, months later, after being exposed as the cheerleaders they are, no — they offer no regrets, and act as if they never questioned the facts in the first place.
Once again, bias initially trumped truth. But, as always, truth won out in the end – bombshell or not.
Robert Eno is the director of research for Conservative Review. He is a conservative from deep blue Massachusetts but now lives in Greenville, SC.