TV cherry-picks Comey head­lines

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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