The Washington Examiner and Fox News were the first to report Friday on the contents of the memo prepared by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and the reaction on journalists' Twitter feeds was the exact opposite of what we’ve come to expect in the Trump era.
There was none of the usual backslapping for the Examiner’s and Fox’s original reporting. There were none of the overly congratulatory tweets reading to the effect of, “What a scoop!” The Examiner’s Byron York and Fox’s Catherine Herridge were not singled out for glowing praise by their peers.
Instead, many reporters smelled a partisan conspiracy.
“Well, I have to say, the House Republican Intel folks are actually making their partisan case look even worse right now, because they are releasing excerpts of the memo already to friendly media outlets, almost trying to build a narrative and control the headlines, the early headlines, and create this sort of, you know, help feed a feeding frenzy,” said MSNBC’s Chuck Todd.He added, “This is what a campaign would do, not an entity that cared about the rule of law or trying to be above politics."
The Huffington Post’s Marina Fang wrote an entire post on the conspiracy, titled “Right-wing outlets got advance excerpts of the Nunes memo. That's not an entirely partisan move or anything.”
Fang also claimed that the memo was released to “media outlets friendly to Trump.”
The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman tweeted in reference to the fact that the Examiner and Fox got first crack at the memo, “Quite the way to make it clear this isn’t political as Trump claimed he wanted to divorce it from.”
In response to a question from the Examiner’s Tim Carney, the Times reporter softened her complaint somewhat, writing, “If hjs [sic] concern is people playing politics, as Trump has said, releasing it all at once instead of to two friendly outlets would dispel criticism of doing that himself.”
Sure, OK. If we're going to grouse about leaks to supposedly friendly media, she should probably sit this one out. Unlike Haberman, York and Herridge can’t say they’ve ever been singled out as being especially accommodating by a certain failed presidential candidate.
And let’s address the suggestion that the Examiner is a Trump-friendly outlet. York defends the administration a great deal, yes, but that does not mean the Examiner newsroom is pro-Trump. I’d refer you to any number of our critical editorials, or this tweet from our managing editor, Philip Klein, who unregistered as a Republican in 2016 after Trump won the party’s nomination.
Maybe — just maybe! — York and Herridge worked their sources better than journalists at other outlets.
It’s understandable that the reporters who often bask in peer praise for exclusives like the Clinton burrito bowl are annoyed that they were scooped by news outlets with right-leaning commentary. It’s understandable that the newsrooms that bungled apparent leaks from the House Intelligence Committee recently are annoyed now that the Examiner and Fox News got it right Friday.
But at least try to be gracious in defeat. No one likes a sore loser.