Column: Who Is Robert Hur? How Would We Know?

“Both sides furious” was one reporter’s summary when special counsel Robert Hur testified in a congressional hearing to explain his decision not to prosecute Joe Biden for willfully retaining classified documents, not just from his vice-presidential years, but from his Senate career.

The network TV stories that night were the closest thing to “fair and balanced” we’ve seen in a long time. The Republicans decried the double standard, that Trump is being prosecuted, and Biden is not. The Democrats complained Hur’s report made Biden look feeble-minded (like nobody’s drawn that conclusion).

But let’s take a look at the bigger picture. While Hur was conducting his investigation, we joked that you should put his face on a milk carton. He was missing from the press.

Hur was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland in January 2023. Bill D’Agostino reported at NewsBusters that over about nine months of morning and evening news coverage — from February 1 through November 20, 2023 — ABC, CBS, and NBC spent just four minutes and 52 seconds on Hur’s inquiry.

But then there’s the breakdown. ABC aired 204 of those 292 seconds, or 70 percent of that air time. NBC barely offered a minute (64 seconds) and CBS offered one paltry 24-second news brief.

That’s not the way they covered Russian collusion and Robert Mueller, is it? They obsessed almost daily over that probe. From January 20, 2017 through December 31, 2018, NewsBusters reported the Big Three evening newscasts alone aired 2,092 minutes on investigations of Trump’s alleged collusion with the Russian government. It should not be surprising that this was the single most-covered topic in their coverage of Trump in that time frame.

Here’s some rough math: Trump was punished with 858 overwhelmingly negative minutes on Russiagate in 2018, while Biden drew less than five Hur minutes over most of 2023. Very roughly, that’s about 170 to 1.  But remember, the 858 number is only the evening newscasts.

If Trump was “scandal-plagued,” the newscasters were the plague. If they made the political weather, it was a daily hurricane for Trump, while Biden was rewarded with Mostly Sunny.

That doesn’t mean Trump was damaged. In 2018, Trump’s approval rating actually improved, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average. But that’s not how the anti-Trump media designed it.

These numbers underline the fraudulence of former Washington Post editor Martin Baron’s slogan, when he claimed “we’re not at war, we’re at work.” Metaphorically, they were at war under Trump as the Scandal Police, and now they spend most days at the donut shop.

This is why the media has a major trust problem with anyone who’s not a Democrat. Trump gets Scandal Police brutality. Biden scandals are avoided until they cannot be avoided, and then reporters often repeat the taunting mantra “no evidence, no evidence.” As if it’s not their job to look for evidence.  

This bifurcated media approach to scandal presents each and every Democrat prosecutor of Trump – whether elected or appointed by Biden – as nonpartisan and apolitical. Well, unless someone like Hur spurs a bad news cycle for Biden – then he’s a “Trump appointee” – ahem, before he became a Biden administration appointee. The Biden Justice Department is also treated like it’s as pure as newly fallen snow.

People see through this. But journalists keep thinking the people are stupid when they don’t accept their preaching. Their eternally smug self-righteousness insures they will never be trusted again. 

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