Conservative media get a jump on memo’s release
Fox News had it first, then the right-leaning Washington Examiner. Conservative outlets were the first in the media to see the Republican-written FISA memo on Friday, leading some to allege that the apparently selective leaking of the document only amped up its partisan stakes.
The memo officially posted on the House website at 12:12 p.m. on Friday.
Story Continued Below
But nearly 30 minutes earlier, at 11:45 a.m., Fox News reporter Catherine Herridge appeared on air and reported, “Fox News can now confirm that the four-page memo has been declassified.”
Herridge then provided viewers with highlights from the memo.
In addition, the Washington Examiner’s Byron York started tweeting about the memo’s contents at 11:48 a.m., the same time that a story on it went up on the Examiner’s website.
The Federalist was the first site to post the full memo, with co-founder Sean Davis tweeting at 12:16 p.m., “We have the memo. Here it is.”
Davis also tweeted, though: “We didn’t receive it in advance. We found it on the House’s public document repository website a few minutes after it was uploaded.”
He posted a screenshot of the House site, showing the memo’s time of upload, 12:12 p.m.
Still, it certainly appeared that Fox News and York had first crack. Fox News hosts have pushed relentlessly for the release of the memo, so much that the header of Hannity’s personal website, hannity.com, has even recently included “#releasethememo” just under his name. On Friday afternoon, that was changed to “#memoreleased.”
Some in the media speculated that Fox News and the Examiner got early access thanks to friendly leaks, further entrenching the notion that the Republican-written memo is a partisan document.
“Not a good look by the House GOP to release cherry picked excerpts through friendly media outlets in order to build a narrative,” NBC’s Chuck Todd said on Twitter “Only reinforces the partisan look to all this. A truly nonpartisan act would have been a complete release without cherry picks.”
And New York Times White House reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted, “Quite the way to make it clear this isn’t political as Trump claimed he wanted to divorce it from.”
Fox News and York did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Meanwhile, even as the White House reportedly fretted that the document would be a “dud” — and other news outlets approached the findings of the memo carefully — conservative media exulted in the much-touted report’s release. On early Friday afternoon, the main FoxNews.com headline blared, “Bombshell doc says blabbing British spy’s dossier paid for by Clinton, key to Trump snooping warrant.”
On Hannity’s personal website, the memo was referred to as “The Smoking Gun.” And, for its part, Breitbart exclaimed in a block headline, “FBI knew dossier by Clinton/DNC, used it anyway.”
Drudge Report’s main headline read simply “DISGRACE,” beside an FBI logo.
On the conspiracy-minded edge of the spectrum, InfoWars proclaimed that the memo “confirms surveillance of Trump campaign was based on dodgy Steele dossier,” even though the FBI and Democrats have complained vociferously that important information was left out. Meanwhile, The Gateway Pundit stoked speculation over whether Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would be fired.
President Donald Trump has reportedly complained about Rosenstein’s role in overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, and conservative hosts have talked up the idea that the memo could be justification for firing him.
Meanwhile, a group called Tea Party Patriots Action announced that it was releasing a new ad calling for Rosenstein to “do his job, or resign.”
The group spent more than $100,000 to air the ad in Washington — on television and online — for a week beginning Sunday. Chairwoman Jenny Beth Martin distributed the ad on Friday in an email to more than 1,000 conservative leaders and close to 1 million activists across the country, urging a call-in campaign to get Rosenstein fired.
“On his watch liberal Obama holdovers continue to leak and character assassinate on a daily basis, and he has done nothing to stop it,” Martin said in the email. “We encourage all of you to emphatically echo these sentiments at every opportunity. The stakes are as high as they get.”
Lorraine Woellert contributed to this report.
February 2, 2018 at 02:29PM