Where’s Richard Burr?

Where’s Richard Burr?

PE Bias Grade : N/A

By: Allen Nitschelm on February 21, 2019 | Investigative Journalism

This is a review of the following Boston Globe Article:
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The Boston Globe has an obsession over coverage of President Trump. 99% of it is negative, but that’s just an estimate. It could be 100%.

The basis for much of this coverage has been the story of the Trump campaign colluding with Russia to steal the election. Now, if this were true, it would be extremely serious. And perhaps that is why some leeway has been given to the Justice Department to investigate these allegations. Still, investigators should be neutral, they should present actual evidence of criminal activity, and they should treat any information received as completely confidential (until such time that collusion is proven, of course).

So that’s how our government should investigate this. What is the role of the media like the Boston Globe? Obviously, they cover this as an important story, but they must retain the presumption of innocence. U.S. presidents are not above the law, but they are also not below it.

The Globe long ago abandoned Trump’s presumption of innocence. They have covered Russia collusion as a fact, and they have also very subtly tried changing the narrative from “Trump campaign collusion” to “Russian interference in the election.” That is also worthy of investigation but that has nothing to do with the Trump campaign. But the Globe has kept both narratives going at the same time, conflating them. This is like “guilt by association.”

After two years and the Independent Counsel’s office leaking like a sieve, there has been no direct evidence in the public domain of Trump campaign collusion. Some very peripheral figures have “talked with” Russians, but this isn’t collusion. And the contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia appear to be less than between the Hillary Clinton campaign and Russia. The Russians “donated” millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation, after all. And Hillary arranged for the sale of U.S. uranium to the Kremlin. So let’s not pretend that Trump was more in bed with the Russians than his opponent.

From the Facebook testimony, Russia’s actual impact on the election was negligible. I think one of the execs from Facebook or Google estimated that they spent like $5,000 on ads. And from examples of what they did, it was not overt by any stretch. It was like background stuff, trying to stir people up. It wasn’t ads saying “vote for Trump.” The main goal appeared to sow discord and confusion, in an attempt to undermine democracy and our political stability. Turns out, our media has been much more effective in achieving this goal than the Russians could ever have hoped to be.

MISSING SENATOR RICHARD BURR

A couple of weeks ago, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), who is Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which is overseeing the Russian collusion investigation, spoke publicly and said that he has seen no evidence of collusion. This is big news. It is not the end of the story, because we still haven’t heard from the Independent Counsel, but it is a large piece of the puzzle. It is definitely newsworthy and readers deserve to know this update.

So as the Globe covers the Russian collusion story on almost a daily basis, I went back and re-read the Globe to try to find a reference to Burr’s comments. I could find none. From the Internet, the article reporting on his comments apparently was run on February 7th. (For example, here is the story in the Washington Examiner. Burr evidently gave an interview to CBS News. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/richard-burr-we-havent-found-anything-suggesting-collusion-by-the-trump-campaign-and-russia). So I stared searching the Globe on that date forward. And while I have found many references to the investigation and surrounding issues, no quote from Burr, no reference to it, nothing.

Here is a link to the CBS interview dated Feb. 7: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owFfXJ6R_z4

What really peaked my interest into looking into this was The Week, the excellent news weekly magazine that I subscribe to. The most recent issue reported this story (see photo one.) If a newsweekly magazine reports on what Sen. Burr said, and the Globe devotes 10x or 20x more coverage to the Trump-Russia collusion story than The Week, surely it would cover this news as well?

I emailed the Globe editor twice and he didn’t get back to me. I told him my premise and questioned the Globe’s lack of coverage on this issue and wanted to prepare some follow-up questions, but the Globe isn’t interested in discussing coverage that is critical of the job they are doing. Given their biased and unprofessional reporting, I certainly don’t blame them. This would be like asking Bill Buckner for an interview after he let the ball go through his legs.

I have documented the many references to the Russian investigation and Trump collusion as covered by the Boston Globe in the week or so after Burr’s comments. See below.

So the Globe is committing an error of omission, and I believe it is purposeful. They knew what Burr had said, they knew parts of it were disputed by Sen. Warner, the ranking Democrat on the committee, and (according to The Week), the gist of what Burr had said was confirmed by a Democratic Senate staffer. So this is about as close to an exoneration of President Trump colluding with Russia short of releasing the results of the Mueller probe. And that’s why the Globe didn’t run it. It casts doubt not only on the narrative they’ve been pushing for a couple of years,  but it also casts doubt on the Globe’s coverage of that narrative. How many times have they run articles by known Trump critics claiming there was evidence, they just couldn’t talk about it because it was classified or something.

This type of biased coverage selection is extremely harmful to Globe readers, because it skews the information available to them to make their own judgments. Independent Counsel Robert Mueller is scheduled to release his report very soon, and I hope we get to read an unclassified version of it, but word is that no collusion was found. Lots of smoke, but no fire. And without collusion, there should be no obstruction of justice. An innocent man can’t obstruct an investigation that proves him innocent (I wouldn’t think.)

The fact that the House Democrats are now going to try to invade President Trump’s privacy is another scandal, and hopefully their overreach will be punished in 2020. In the meantime, thanks to President Trump for being willing to put up with this invasion of privacy and first-class “witch hunt” for the benefit of the American people.

2/7: Washington Examiner runs story about Burr’s comments.

2/7, Boston Globe: Page A8, House panel launches new Trump-Russia probe

http://edition.pagesuite.com/popovers/dynamic_article_popover.aspx?artguid=22e7e048-153e-4cfd-a056-1bf47a5cb248&appid=1165

Nothing on Richard Burr’s comments, but a full interview with Adam Schiff, the Democrat Chair of the House committee. But perhaps this was a day too soon for the Globe to write about it. (The Examiner story was online.)

2/8: Boston Globe, Page A2, Senate Committee advances Barr.

http://edition.pagesuite.com/popovers/dynamic_article_popover.aspx?artguid=eb54d5a1-f1cb-43e4-9139-fbf504ab8ff1&appid=1165

This short article mentions “the special counsel’s ongoing Russia investigation.” No mention of Sen. Burr. “If confirmed, [Barr] would promptly assume responsibility for the special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller into possible ties between Trump, his associates, and Russia, and whether the president obstructed justice.”

Also on page A2 was a long, four-column article on Democrats who are trying to get Donald Trump’s personal tax returns.

2/9, Boston Globe, Page A6, Whitaker says he didn’t interfere in probe

http://edition.pagesuite.com/popovers/dynamic_article_popover.aspx?artguid=036816bb-01fb-4fe3-a1e3-043b79709830&appid=1165

Special counsel investigation is mentioned in paragraph one, but it is incorrectly described as an investigation “into Russia’s 2016 election-manipulation operation.” That would be incorrect. It was an investigation into the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia, which was then expanded into other ancillary areas.

“But the hearing focused mainly on the Russia investigation.” So in that context, why wasn’t Sen. Burr’s comments exonerating President Trump mentioned by the three New York Times reporters who wrote this piece, or edited in by the Globe editors to provide balance?

2/10: No coverage in the Sunday Globe on this topic.

2/11, Boston Globe, Page A1, Warren, in a twist, tweaks Trump

http://edition.pagesuite.com/popovers/dynamic_article_popover.aspx?artguid=1dd4416b-bd4d-4097-b047-07b0707ce5b6&appid=1165

This is an egregious example of bias. Not only does this article indirectly refer to Trump facing legal jeopardy because of the Russia probe, it does not challenge Sen. Elizabeth Warren in her claim that Trump “may be in prison by the time of the 2020 vote,” according to the Globe’s own subhead. So the Globe chose to highlight this Warren speech with an offensive remark directed at the President, when the Globe knows that the current evidence indicates there is no collusion, therefore no legal jeopardy. So why didn’t the Globe rebut Warren’s assertion?

Rebutting false assertions is what the Globe does every time Trump speaks, isn’t it? Will the Globe now be consistent and call Elizabeth Warren a liar for claiming Trump may be in jail?

The Globe makes it clear that Warren’s reference is to the special counsel’s investigation. “…a reference to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into possible ties between the Trump election campaign and Russia and other probes.”

The article later quotes Trump repeating his “witch hunt” phrase, with still no mention of the comments by Sen. Burr.

2/11, Boston Globe, Page A7. The short article quotes House Chair Adam Schiff, and again fails to mention Sen. Burr’s exonerating comments.

2/12: Nothing.

2/13, Boston Globe, Page A6, Trump critics to help House panel with inquiries

http://edition.pagesuite.com/popovers/dynamic_article_popover.aspx?artguid=8acdd25b-68e1-4475-b4ec-1e126e6e841c&appid=1165

This short says the House Intelligence Committee is hiring two prominent Trump critics as lawyers. No bias in those hirings. And the article makes several references to Trump’s legal jeopardy including “corruption, and possible obstruction of justice.” Nadler is quoted as saying, “The president…faces numerous allegations of corruption and obstruction.” Where is the Globe’s “fact checker?”

The two lawyers “[have] written extensively…about obstruction of justice…”

* * * *

So that’s a full week of Globe coverage. There are more articles after this, of course, but I still haven’t read anything about Sen. Burr’s comments in the Boston Globe. It is as if he didn’t say them.

 

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