TV cherry-picks Comey headlines
NEW YORK: The extensive coverage of former FBI director James Comey’s Senate testimony gave Americans time to focus on the slowly unfolding story about President Donald Trump and Russian involvement in the presidential campaign. But there was no rest for partisan spinners.
Broadcast networks cast aside regular schedules for three or four hours. So did cable news networks, bracketing Comey’s first public appearance since being fired by Trump with hours of their own talk. His plain-spoken answers to questions from alternating Democratic and Republican senators offered quotes for each side to latch on to.
“Depending on which camp you’re in, you could say Comey totally condemned President Trump today or you could say the president was exonerated by Comey,” commentator Dana Perino said on Fox News Channel. “The thing is, this was just another log on the fire, because America is going to continue to push forward on this.”
TV commentators did not break in to Comey’s testimony, but through headlines put on screen they were able to choose often contradictory points of emphasis. That was the case when Comey talked about Trump’s discussion with him about former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
On Fox, for example, one read, “Comey: President did not order me to let Flynn probe go.” CNN’s said, “Comey: I took Trump’s request about Flynn as a directive.”
Fox, where Trump fans dominate the audience, often emphasised news favourable to the president. “Comey: Not for me to say if Trump obstructed,” read one head.
Other networks were more likely to highlight testimony where Comey said Trump lied. “Comey: Trump lied about reasons for firing,” was one headline on MSNBC. “Comey: Trump administration lied about me and FBI,” was on CNN. – AP