Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has sued the Twitter account “Devin Nunes’ cow” — among other entities — for $250 million — despite having filed legislation to crack down on frivolous lawsuits. As former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee in 2017, he was so incompetent that Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) drew a parallel between his work and that of Inspector Clouseau.

This man on Tuesday morning delivered an endorsement of the embattled work of John Solomon, the former opinion contributor at the Hill. That endorsement came bundled with a broadside against the mainstream media, which has published skeptical reporting on Solomon’s work. All of this was packaged in Nunes’s opening statement in a hearing of the House Intelligence Committee as it took testimony from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman of the National Security Council and Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Pence.

Here are Nunes’s remarks, with the Erik Wemple Blog’s thoughts in between:

I’d like to address a few brief words to the American people watching at home. If you watched the impeachment hearings last week, you may have noticed a disconnect between what you actually saw and the mainstream media accounts describing it.

First, if the mainstream media were really so dedicated to warping the hearings, perhaps it wouldn’t carry them on live television. Second, the hearing witnesses have been quite consistent in their descriptions of how President Trump has handled U.S. policy toward Ukraine.

When you saw three diplomats, who dislike President Trump’s Ukraine policy, discussing second-hand and third-hand conversations about their objections with the Trump policy. Meanwhile, they admitted they had not talked to the president about these matters. And they were unable to identify any crime or impeachable offense the president committed.

“Identifying impeachable offenses” was not the witnesses’ roles, as they made clear.

But what you read in the press were accounts of shocking, damning and explosive testimony that fully supports the Democrats’ accusations. If these accounts have a familiar ring, it’s because this is the same preposterous reporting the media offered for three years on the Russian hoax. On a nearly daily basis, the top news outlets in America reported breathlessly on the newest bombshell revelations showing that President Trump and everyone surrounding him were Russian agents.

Here’s a more accurate characterization of the coverage during this period is this: On a nearly daily basis, they reported on lies told by Trump and his top people regarding various issues stemming from the Russia investigation.

It really wasn’t long ago that we were reading these headlines — from CNN, “Congress investigating Russian investment fund with ties to Trump officials.” This was false. New York Times: “Trump Campaign aides had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence.” Also false. Slate: “Was a Trump server communicating with Russia?” This was false. New York Magazine: “Will Trump be meeting with his counterpart or his handler?” This was false. The Guardian: “Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian Embassy.” Also false. BuzzFeed: “President Trump directed his attorney to lie to Congress about the Moscow Tower project.” All of these were false.

Yes indeed: There were challenged and erroneous reports over the two-year Mueller investigation. As the Mueller report itself made clear, however, the broad sweep of reporting among major outlets was not only correct, but in many instances eerily correct.

There was no objectivity or fairness in the media’s Russia stories, just a fevered rush to tarnish and remove a president who refuses to pretend that the media are something different from what they really are: puppets of the Democratic Party.

As a series by the Erik Wemple Blog documents, these “puppets of the Democratic Party” have a knack for completing accountability stories on Democrats that are gobbled up by Fox News and House GOP members.

With their biased misreporting on the Russia hoax, the media lost the confidence of millions of Americans and because they refuse to acknowledge how badly they botched the story, they’ve learned no lessons and simply expect Americans will believe them as they try to stoke yet another partisan frenzy.

A 2018 Gallup report indicated that U.S. trust in media had been inching up since reaching a low in 2016.

In previous hearings, I’ve outlined three questions the Democrats and the media don’t want asked or answered. Instead of shedding light on these crucial questions, the media are trying to smother and dismiss them. Those questions start with: What is the full extent of the Democrats’ prior coordination with the whistleblower and who else did the whistleblower coordinate this effort with? The media have fully accepted the Democrats’ stunning reversal on the need for the whistleblower to testify to this committee. When the Democrats were insisting on his testimony, the media wanted it, too. But things have changed since it became clear the whistleblower would have to answer problematic questions that include these — what was the full extent of the whistleblower’s prior coordination with Chairman Schiff, his staff and any other people he cooperated with while preparing the complaint. What are the whistleblower’s political biases and connections to Democratic politicians? How does the whistleblower explain the inaccuracies in the complaint? What contact did the whistleblower have with the media, which appears to be ongoing? What are the sources of the whistleblower’s information, who else did he talk to, and was the whistleblower prohibited by law from receiving or conveying any of that information?

It was the New York Times that in early October scooped details about the whistleblower’s actions, writing that he “approached a House Intelligence Committee aide with his concerns about Mr. Trump only after he had had a colleague first convey them to the C.I.A.’s top lawyer.”

The media have joined the Democrats in dismissing the importance of cross-examining this crucial witness. Now that the whistleblower has successfully kick-started impeachment, he has disappeared from the story as if the Democrats put the whistleblower in their own witness protection program. My second question — what was the full extent of Ukraine’s election meddling against the Trump campaign? In these depositions and hearings, Republicans have cited numerous indications of Ukraine meddling in the 2016 elections to oppose the Trump campaign. Many of these instances were reported, including the posting of many primary source documents by veteran investigative journalist John Solomon. Since the Democrats switched from Russia to Ukraine for their impeachment crusade, Solomon’s reporting on Burisma, Hunter Biden and Ukraine election meddling has become inconvenient for the Democratic narrative and so the media is furiously smearing and libeling Solomon. In fact, the publication The Hill told its staff yesterday it would conduct a review of Solomon’s Ukraine reporting.

Bolding added to highlight a glaring omission: Those leading the backlash against Solomon’s reporting for the Hill are, in large part, the career civil servants who are contributing testimony to the impeachment proceedings. For instance, Vindman, the top Ukrainian expert on the National Security Council, joked in his deposition that Solomon’s reporting was bogus but that “his grammar might have been right.” Another point: Publications don’t announce full-throated reviews of past work unless they have powerful motives for doing so.

Coincidentally, the decision comes just three days after a Democrat on this committee told a Hill writer that she would stop speaking to The Hill because it had run Solomon’s stories. And she urged the writer to relay her concerns to Hill’s management. So now that Solomon’s reporting is a problem for the Democrats, it’s a problem for the media as well. I’d like to submit for the record John Solomon’s Oct. 31 story entitled, “Debunking some of the Ukraine scandal myths about Biden and election interference.” I encourage viewers today to read this story and draw your own conclusions about the evidence Solomon has gathered. I ask unanimous consent that we put this into the record. … The concerted campaign by the media to discredit and disown some of their own colleagues is shocking. And we see it again in the sudden denunciations of New York Times reporter Ken Vogel as a conspiracy theorist after he covered similar issues, including a 2017 Politico piece entitled “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire.”

Nunes might have mentioned that New York Times management has stood behind Vogel.

My third question: Why did Burisma hire Hunter Biden, what did he do for them, and did his position affect any U.S. government actions under the Obama administration? We have now heard testimony from the Democrats’ own witnesses that diplomats were concerned about a conflict of interest involving Hunter Biden. That’s because he had secured a well-paid position despite having no qualifications on the board of a corrupt Ukrainian company while his father was vice president charged with overseeing Ukrainian issues. After trying out several different accusations against President Trump, the Democrats have recently settled on bribery. According to widespread reports, they replaced their quid pro quo allegation because it wasn’t polling well. But if the Democrats and media are suddenly so deeply concerned about bribery, you would think they would take some interest in Burisma paying Hunter Biden $83,000 a month. And you’d think they would be interested in Joe Biden threatening to withhold U.S. loan guarantees unless the Ukrainians fired a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma. That would be a textbook example of bribery.
The media, of course, are free to act as Democrat puppets and they are free to lurch from the Russia hoax to the Ukraine hoax at the direction of their puppet masters. But they cannot reasonably expect to do so without alienating half the country who voted for the president they’re trying to expel. Americans have learned to recognize fake news when they see it, and if the mainstream press won’t give it to them straight, they'll go elsewhere to find it. Which is exactly what the American people are doing. With that I yield back.

Actually: Mainstream news outlets are seeing large audiences for their Trump coverage. The real story here is that people like Nunes, Trump and Sean Hannity are trying to drive people away from the “mainstream press” precisely because it conveys the facts. That is the central media-politics story from the past four years. Nunes and his ilk stoke it whenever they have nothing to say on the merits.

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