Hillary Clinton was nowhere near Washington the day charges against President Trump’s former campaign chairman were announced and news broke that a former Trump campaign volunteer had pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about meeting with Russian officials.
She was in Chicago where she promoted her book (âI have a great chapter about Russiaâ), thoughtÂ about her Halloween costume (âI think I will maybe come as the presidentâ) andÂ quipped about conservative media outletsâ preoccupation with a vanquished presidential candidate while big news surrounded the one who won.
âAll the networks except Fox are reporting whatâs really going on…. It appears they don’t know Iâm not president,â tweeted NBC News politics reporter Alex Seitz-Wald, quoting Clinton, whoÂ held an event at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on Monday night.
Conservative media outlets seem to have largely followed White House talking points in reporting the news dump of the past few days: Thereâs noÂ collusion. The charges against Paul Manafort predate his involvement in the Trump campaign. George Papadopoulos was a lowly campaign volunteer. AndÂ the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committeeâs funding of research that resulted in the now-infamous dossier âÂ not to mention the Uranium One deal withÂ a Russian companyÂ that was approvedÂ during the Obama administration while Clinton was secretary of state â areÂ the clearest evidence of collusion with Russia.
For the Clinton camp, it seems there’s a fixationÂ on an administration that does not exist.
âIf you watch Fox News these days, they’re treating Hillary Clinton as if she won the election,â said former Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon. He called the media outlet a White House âpropaganda armâ that focuses on Clinton while downplaying the recent criminal allegationsÂ arising from special counsel Robert S. Mueller IIIâs investigation into possible Russian influence in the presidential election. âFox News is certainly buying that alternative narrative and theyâre trying to peddle it, but Bob Mueller is not going to fall for that.â
Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The media outlet also had aired segments that included referencesÂ to the nonexistent âClinton administrationâ and âPresident Clinton.â
âThe speculation is so insane right now. What we should be focusing on are the continued lies of the Clinton administration, the continued fallacies that they perpetuate,â former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said on Fox Newsâs âFox & Friendsâ on Saturday, as news of an indictment loomed over Washington.
And hereâs Sean Hannity, one of the leading purveyors of White House talking points, in hisÂ Monday night monologue, which focused on Clinton, the uranium deal and the dossier:
âWhat did Hil â what did President Clinton, uh or, President Clinton wannabe, President Obama and key members of the Obama administration, what did they know about the Uranium One scandal?â
The Clinton coverage continued to dominate in the conservative media world Monday morning, even as news brokeÂ that ManafortÂ and his former business associate, Rick Gates, were told to surrender to the FBI. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway appeared on âFox & Friends,â saying the focus should be on Clinton.
âPeople should be looking into any coordination .â.â. between the Clinton campaign, the DNC, the Russian dossier,â Conway said, adding that she and others in the administration would love to not talk about Clinton, âbut she just wonât go away.â
âFox & Friendsâ echoed Conway a bit later that morning with theÂ headline, âPROBE SHOWS DEM TIES TO URANIUM DEAL, DOSSIER,â as other national media outlets focused their coverage on Manafort.
News of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committeeâs role in funding research that led to the dossier, firstÂ reportedÂ by The Washington Post last week,Â has become a major weapon for the White House and conservative media, which sought to focus allegations of collusion on Clinton, her campaign and the Democrats.
âThere is clear evidence of the Clinton campaign colluding to smear the president and influence the election,â White House press secretaryÂ Sarah Huckabee SandersÂ saidÂ during the White House briefing Monday.
Also being used as a club against Clinton and the Democrats is the Uranium One deal, which is now the subject of aÂ congressional probe.
Fallon, the former Clinton campaign spokesman, dismissed the new investigation as an effort by congressional Republicans to try to âdig up scandalsâ on someone who is never going to seek elected office again.
Trump has repeatedly claimed that Clinton was âpaid a fortuneâ when she was secretary of state inÂ exchange for a deal with a Russian state-owned nuclear energy company to control over 20 percent of the U.S. uranium supply.Â ButÂ multiple fact checksÂ have shown that there is no evidence that Clinton was personally involved in the deal, which was approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Treasury Departmentâs Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, none of which involved Clinton.
As the Fact Checkerâs Glenn KesslerÂ wrote: âAny suggestion that Russian money was directed to influence Clintonâs decisions would be explosive. But the fatal flaw in this allegation is Hillary Clinton, by all accounts, did not participate in any discussions regarding the Uranium One sale which â as we noted â does not actually result in the removal of uranium in the United States.â
Cable news headlines remained just as disparateÂ inÂ theÂ Monday evening broadcasts:
CNN: âFIRST CHARGES FILED IN MUELLER INVESTIGATIONâ
MSNBC: âREPORT: FIRST CHARGES FILED IN MUELLER RUSSIA PROBEâ
Fox News, promoting a Hannity special: âNEW DETAILS IN DEMOCRAT SCANDALSâ
The New York Post â which, along with Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, is also owned by Rupert Murdoch â had nearly dropped the story of the indictmentsÂ from its homepage by Monday evening, focusing instead on sexual harassment scandals related to Kevin Spacey, Peyton Manning and Harvey Weinstein.
Breitbartâs lead story was about Tony Podesta, a prominent Democratic lobbyist and brother of Hillary Clintonâs campaign chief.
âTHE PLOT THICKENS,â reads a headline on Breitbart’s homepage Monday evening. âTONY PODESTA RESIGNS FROM PODESTA GROUP AS MUELLER PROBE HEATS UP.â
Podesta, brother of John Podesta, had not been charged with a crime or named in court filings, though his firm was indirectly referenced in the charges against Manafort and Gates.
OnÂ Tuesday morning, an alert splashed across the Fox News website read: âNo Russia collusion, but are more Mueller charges coming? Should Hillary worry?â
By Tuesday afternoon, Breitbartâs lead storyÂ wasÂ a rehash of Fox News host Laura Ingrahamâs interview with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who urged the Justice Department to contain intelligence leaks.
On the Daily Callerâs homepage, the main storyÂ was alsoÂ about Podesta: âWe Asked This Dem Senator About The Podesta Group. He Immediately Tried to Deflect.â Below that wasÂ a story about White House Chief of Staff John F. Kellyâs interview with Ingraham. She asked if there should be another special prosecutor to investigate the Uranium One deal, to which Kelly said, âYeah, I guess so.â
The New York Post, meanwhile, has completely dropped any news storyÂ about the Mueller investigation or the indictment from its homepage.
Eli Rosenberg contributed to this story.