Thursday, July 25, 2019

Reporter's High Hopes Crushed by Mueller ‘Disaster’

By lunchtime, NBC News had a tracker going on its website: “How many times has Robert Mueller deflected, declined or deferred a question?” (The count had ticked past 100 before noon, reports The NY Times.)

On CNN, the legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin called the former special counsel’s testimony “phlegmatic.” On The Drudge Report, it was “Dazed and Confused.” “A little unsure of himself,” said Paula Reid of CBS. “The years have clearly taken a toll on the Bob Mueller we used to see,” said Pete Williams of NBC.

And on Fox News, in words that would later turn up on President Trump’s Twitter feed, the political anchor Chris Wallace laid down a brutal verdict: “This has been a disaster for the Democrats, and a disaster for the reputation of Robert Mueller.”

Few in the media business, which had long anticipated the potential fireworks (and potential ratings) of Mueller’s televised testimony before Congress on Wednesday, expected the veteran prosecutor to match Donald Trump’s supernova TV persona. Stolid and lawyerly, his button-down collar securely fastened, Mueller looked reluctant from the start to submit to a cable news spectacle.

But even TV anchors were surprised by the halting, donnish presence of Mueller on their screens.

If the left-wing media were hoping for a slam dunk during Special Counsel Mueller’s testimony on Capitol Hill Wednesday, it’s clear from their reactions that they don’t think they saw one, reports  The responses from TV journalists ranged from nonplussed to outright upset with some analysts and reporters going so far as to declare the hearings “a disaster,” and the cause of impeachment “over.”

This disappointed reaction stood in comically stark contrast to the excitement permeating cable and broadcast news in the days and hours before Mueller testified.

Watch the video below for a comparison of TV news before and after:

By the end of the day, most of this excitement had been hopelessly dashed.

“Did this move the ball at all?” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked senior national correspondent Terry Moran after the Judiciary hearing. “No,” Moran spat. “Impeachment’s over.”

NBC political director Chuck Todd deemed the event “a complete failure.” He added: “As they were using him for clarity, he’d somehow fog it up, and how he would do certain things. So look, on optics, this was a disaster.”

MSNBC’s coverage was similarly dour, with a depressed-looking Brian Williams remarking: “A lot of Democrats in particular used the D-word and branded this a disaster early on.”

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