By now we’ve all heard about President Trump’s tweets claiming that Obama tapped his phone lines. You have also probably heard tons of media outlets and even members of the GOP dispute the likelihood of Trump’s accusation.
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
Even as top Congressional leaders like Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse call for information from the FBI, and the House Intelligence Committee launches a thorough investigation, clear answers are not likely to come quickly. But it is not likely that President Obama directly ordered a wiretap on a political opponent.
Making matters worse, the mainstream corporate media cannot decide where they stand on the issue. Prior to Trump taking office, it was crucial for the media to keep pressure on the President-elect. Giving the impression that massive investigations about Trump and his aides were ongoing, the media worked to build the narrative that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian regime to interfere with the election.
President Obama ordered a full investigation of Russia’s hacking efforts in the election. From this investigation, we know that Russia did, in some way, attempt to meddle in the election. We also know that some of those close to Trump lied about meeting with Russian diplomats.
In January, we found out that “current and former senior American officials” told media outlets, like The New York Times (reported January 19) about the investigation. We also know that the actual content of phone calls between Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak was passed to The Washington Post (reported February 9). Flynn, as well as the rest of Trump’s transition team, held their meetings in Trump Tower.
So, we know from the mainstream, corporate media that US counterintelligence agents “intercepted” calls from Trump Tower while Barack Obama was President. In other words, the Obama administration ordered an investigation which led the DOJ and FBI to monitor phone calls that came from Trump Tower. Yes, that is a far cry from ‘Obama tapped Trump’s phones.’ But it does make President Trump’s accusation sound a bit less crazy.
However, once Donald Trump posted his claim on Twitter, the press was quick to refute the claim. NYT and The Washington Post both posted ‘fact-checking’ articles that called the administration’s assertions regarding the alleged wiretap to be false, misleading, or sketchy. The Washington Post even went as far as saying, “[w]e’re still waiting for the evidence. In the meantime, Trump earns Four Pinocchios,” their highest indication that a story is false.
If an outlet is still waiting on evidence and they have already reported stories that are similar to the President’s claim, why would they jump to such a stark rebuke? At the very least, the media’s reporting is extremely confusing.
So confusing in fact that the New York Times had to publish an article on Wednesday explaining the complex story-telling that came from their publication. They even had to create a “Q&A” site just to keep things straight.
Before Trump’s tweet, it was an easy way to get likes, shares, and retweets if a news organization made their heroic figure, Obama, into some sort of old West sheriff, busting his political opponent before riding off into the sunset. But when Trump made an outrageous accusation, the easy way to get social media engagement was to simply bash and discredit whatever the President said.
No, President Obama likely did not personally order then-President-elect Trump’s phones to be tapped. The President does not normally get that personal with a wide-ranging investigation being conducted by the Department of Justice. Taking to Twitter to make such an outrageous claim was at the very least immature and unprofessional. However, the media’s tune throughout has shifted dramatically based on the story they wanted you to believe. They ran with a story until it was more convenient to run the other direction.