Conservative media’s attack on special counsel Robert Mueller was in the works far before Mueller brought indictments against high-level Trump campaign officials.
But despite top conservative voices, like Sean Hannity and the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, calling for Mueller’s resignation, other pundits on Fox News have shied away from talking explicitly about removing Mueller from his post. Rather, they’ve spent the past week making his investigation about Hillary Clinton and the FBI — and, ultimately, questioning Mueller’s credibility in carrying forward these inquiries.
To put it bluntly: As Mueller brings charges against top Trump officials, Fox News is trying to plant doubt in its viewers’ minds.
We analyzed the past week of Fox News transcripts, measuring them against those of Fox’s cable news rivals CNN and MSNBC.
What we found was striking:
- Fox News was unable to talk about the Mueller investigation without bringing up Hillary Clinton, even as federal indictments were being brought against top Trump campaign officials.
- Fox also talked significantly less about George Papadopoulos — the Trump campaign adviser whose plea deal with Mueller provides the most explicit evidence thus far that the campaign knew of the Russian government’s efforts to help Trump — than its competitors.
- Fox News repeatedly called Mueller’s credibility into question, while shying away from talking about the possibility that Trump might fire Mueller.
Fox News started early in questioning Mueller’s credibility
As early as last Tuesday, days before we learned Mueller would bring indictments later in the week, Fox News’s Hannity called for Mueller’s resignation.
“Back in 2009, he was the FBI director. This was when the bureau, the FBI, so clearly had this information [about Uranium One.] He had conflicts of interest. There’s no way the American people can trust Robert Mueller to investigate anything Russian-related,” he said.
Hannity was, of course, referring to a report in the Hill questioning why the Obama administration approved the sale of a Canadian uranium company to Russia, despite the FBI previously uncovering misconduct by the Russian nuclear industry. The story also asserts that Russian nuclear officials gave millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation, perhaps to sway then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who served in the group that approved the deal. The story stems from an anti-Hillary Clinton book published during the election called Clinton Cash, and many experts say it has been presented in a misleading manner.