Su­san Rice bomb­shell treated as fake scan­dal

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY BRAD­FORD RICHARD­SON

When it comes to the bomb­shell re­port that for­mer Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser Su­san E. Rice “un­masked” mem­bers of the Trump tran­si­tion caught up in U.S. sur­veil­lance of for­eign of­fi­cials, it’s dif­fi­cult to tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween main­stream me­dia re­ports and Demo­cratic Party talk­ing points.

Brent Bozell, pres­i­dent of the Me­dia Re­search Cen­ter, called the “noth­ing to see here” re­port­ing shame­ful.

“We have a smok­ing gun that points to crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity by Pres­i­dent Obama’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, and the me­dia have shown an ut­ter lack of in­ter­est in pur­su­ing the story,” Mr. Bozell said in a state­ment.

Ms. Rice does not lack friends in the main­stream me­dia. Among her most vo­cif­er­ous de­fend­ers is CNN an­chor Chris Cuomo, who spun the story as a fur­ther in­dict­ment of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ties to Rus­sia.

“There’s no ev­i­dence of any wrong­do­ing,” Mr. Cuomo said Tues­day on “New Day.” “And in fact, if any­thing, the NSA ask­ing for iden­ti­ties was a re­flec­tion of ex­actly how much traf­fic there was in­volv­ing Trump peo­ple and for­eign play­ers.

The White House [is] blast­ing the press for an­other fake scan­dal be­ing ped­dled by right-wing me­dia.”

But if the story is ev­i­dence of a cozy re­la­tion­ship be­tween Moscow and the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, CNN na­tional se­cu­rity cor­re­spon­dent Jim Scuitto didn’t get the memo.

On the con­trary, Mr. Scuitto, a for­mer Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion ap­pointee, said the “ginned-up scan­dal” re­flects the White House’s de­sire to de­flect at­ten­tion from the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sian med­dling in the pres­i­den­tial race.

“For­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser Su­san Rice, at the cen­ter [of] Pres­i­dent Trump’s lat­est at­tempt to re­new his un­proven wire­tap­ping claim and di­vert at­ten­tion away from his team’s con­tacts with Rus­sia,” Mr. Sci­utto re­ported on “New Day.”

Bloomberg News’ Eli Lake re­ported Mon­day that Ms. Rice “re­quested the iden­ti­ties of U.S. per­sons in raw in­tel­li­gence re­ports on dozens of oc­ca­sions that con­nect to the Don­ald Trump tran­si­tion and cam­paign.”

De­spite claim­ing to know noth­ing about the un­mask­ing last month, Ms. Rice in­sisted Tues­day that she never un­masked mem­bers of Mr. Trump’s in­ner cir­cle for po­lit­i­cal pur­poses. She said re­veal­ing the iden­ti­ties of U.S. cit­i­zens swept up in sur­veil­lance is “nec­es­sary to un­der­stand the im­por­tance of an in­tel­li­gence re­port in some in­stances.”

“If I saw an in­tel­li­gence re­port that looked po­ten­tially sig­nif­i­cant — and, by def­i­ni­tion, if it is be­ing pro­vided to me, it is sig­nif­i­cant — then I can make that re­quest,” Ms. Rice told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “That’s nec­es­sary for me to do my job.”

The main­stream me­dia have largely re­ported Ms. Rice’s talk­ing points ver­ba­tim.

NBC White House cor­re­spon­dent Kristin Welker called the un­mask­ing of U.S. cit­i­zens in­ad­ver­tently caught up in for­eign sur­veil­lance a “com­mon prac­tice” in the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity.

Cit­ing sources close to Ms. Rice, ABC White House cor­re­spon­dent Ce­cilia Vega said the story is far from a “smok­ing gun.”

“In fact, some of the pres­i­dent’s con­ser­va­tive al­lies are applauding this. They are call­ing this the smok­ing gun that proves his wire­tap­ping claims,” Ms. Vega re­ported. “It is not that, Amy. A for­mer aide close to Rice doesn’t deny that she did, in fact, seek out th­ese names, but they say she did noth­ing il­le­gal or noth­ing out of the purview of her job.”

Other mem­bers of the me­dia blasted their col­leagues’ ap­a­thetic cov­er­age.

MSNBC’s Joe Scar­bor­ough said there are still “a lot of things we don’t know” about the story.

“I do know this, though: I heard the hal­lelu­jah cho­rus come in im­me­di­ately on cue last night say­ing ‘noth­ing to see here, move along, move along,’” Mr. Scar­bor­ough said on “Morn­ing Joe.”

If it had been Repub­li­cans un­mask­ing Democrats, re­porters would be far more cu­ri­ous to in­ves­ti­gate the story, he said.

“What if Dick Cheney had asked for the un­mask­ing of names for Barack Obama’s in­com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion?” Mr. Scar­bor­ough said. “It’s a very sim­ple ques­tion to ask the next time any­body says this is much ado about noth­ing.”

The Bloomberg re­port said in­for­ma­tion col­lected about mem­bers of the Trump tran­si­tion team in­cluded “valu­able po­lit­i­cal in­for­ma­tion on the Trump tran­si­tion such as whom the Trump team was meet­ing, the views of Trump as­so­ci­ates on for­eign pol­icy mat­ters and plans for the in­com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

MSNBC po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Mark Halperin said that re­port “begs a lot of ques­tions about what was go­ing on, and peo­ple who want to dis­miss it as rou­tine, I think, are un­cu­ri­ous.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

SPEAK­ING UP: For­mer Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser Su­san E. Rice has the ear of main­stream me­dia, which largely re­ported her talk­ing points ver­ba­tim as she de­fended her ac­tions.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Al­though Su­san E. Rice un­masked Trump tran­si­tion of­fi­cials while still serv­ing as na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, mem­bers of the main­stream me­dia see no rea­son to dig deeper and ques­tion her ac­tions or mo­tives.

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