It’s hard to find a clearer example of the widening media divide in America than the reactions to James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.
While stories and op-eds on the left called the hearing “historic,” saying the former FBI director made a strong case, the coverage on the right tended to agree with President Trump that the testimony “vindicated” him. Conservative media also gave much more attention to Comey’s revelations about the Clinton email investigation.
Here are some examples of pieces from both sides of the ideological fence the performed well with readers.
Liberals: Comey showed Trump can’t be trusted
This piece in Mother Jones from David Corn summed up the most common takeaways from progressive commentators in the wake of Comey’s testimony:
Here is the bombshell: a former FBI director has said publicly and under oath that the current president of the United States cannot be trusted.
This is unprecedented and highly troubling. Though James Comey, whom President Donald Trump fired in May, had the day before disclosed his prepared testimony chronicling his disturbing interactions with Trump, his dramatic and much-anticipated appearance Thursday morning before the Senate intelligence committee reinforced and expanded the damning indictment Comey presented in his statement. He noted that he believed that Trump had privately directed him to drop the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn that was part of the FBI’s ongoing Russia probe. He also testified that he saw Trump’s statements to him about the Russia investigation as an order to quash the probe. And he accused the president and the White House of lying.
Corn called for “probing Trump’s efforts to rig the FBI investigation” and said Comey’s testimony casts Trump as “a Nixonesque scoundrel who attempted to abuse his power.” But like Comey, he left the question of whether the president’s conduct was illegal to the special counsel’s investigation.
The theme that Comey revealed Trump to be a liar appeared in many pieces — for example, The Nation story headlined, “Comey on Trump: Liar, liar, liar, liar, liar” — although few said Comey’s testimony revealed proof of anything criminal.
Conservatives: Comey vindicated Trump
“James Comey’s public testimony exonerates President Trump of obstruction of justice,” wrote Fox News reporter Gregg Jarrett in an opinion piece that echoes the feeling of many conservatives.
To put it simply, “hoping” that something happens is not a crime. The law demands much more than that. Felony obstruction requires that the person seeking to obstruct a law enforcement investigation act “corruptly.” The statute specifically defines what that includes: threats, lies, bribes, destruction of documents, and altering or concealing evidence. None of that is alleged by Comey.
The National Review editorial board said “the former FBI director painted a deeply unflattering portrait of the president,” but adds that “the legal case that Democrats are trying to mount against the president remains far-fetched.
In a piece for Fox News Opinion headlined, “Comey confirms that I’m right — and all the Democratic commentators are wrong,” lawyer Alan Dershowitz — not himself a conservative, but actually a Democrat — agreed.
Comey confirmed that under our Constitution, the president has the authority to direct the FBI to stop investigating any individual. I paraphrase, because the transcript is not yet available: the president can, in theory, decide who to investigate, who to stop investigating, who to prosecute and who not to prosecute …
So let’s move on and learn all the facts regarding the Russian efforts to intrude on American elections without that investigation being impeded by frivolous efforts to accuse President Trump of committing a crime by exercising his constitutional authority.
SOURCE: William Cummings