Today’s journalists routinely assert that it is “extreme,” “dangerous,” and possibly even criminal for the White House – or anyone else, for that matter – to criticize an investigation into the President. But twenty years ago, Independent Counsel Ken Starr was savaged by the same liberal media during his investigation of then-President Bill Clinton. At that time, Starr was harangued as a “partisan” and “inept prosecutor,” and a “peeping Tom.”
On Monday evening, MSNBC host Chris Matthews shared his take on the Trump administration’s attitude towards Mueller while hosting Hardball: “President Trump is indicating today that he’s willing to go to extreme new lengths to discredit the Russia probe.”
“It seems extremely dangerous that you have investigators investigating the investigation,” intoned a deeply concerned Don Lemon. The CNN Tonight host continued, “You have a President who appears to be, by anyone’s standards, trying to manipulate the process.”
Chris Cuomo was similarly incensed on Tuesday, providing the following synopsis on CNN’s New Day: “The logic is clear. Attack the people who are attacking you, even if it’s just in perception. Bring down their credibility, and that will reduce the impact of anything they find...”
During a segment on ABC’s This Week, CNN Contributor and former Ted Cruz staffer Amanda Carpenter mounted a particularly tone-deaf defense of the Special Counsel. “One of the problems here is that Donald Trump has a strong PR machine giving his side of the story out, and the Department of Justice and the investigators do not,” she claimed – as if the media are not themselves a massive anti-Trump PR machine.
The liberal media-wide closing of ranks around the Mueller investigation has ramped up in recent days, but it is nothing new in the age of Trump. In March, MSNBC White House Correspondent Peter Alexander suggested that a tweet in which the President had criticized Mueller somehow constituted a criminal act: “Does this effort to sort of undermine and discredit this investigation... does this only add to this obstruction of justice effort by Robert Mueller?”
Back in December of 2017, Lemon confessed on his show that he found conservative media criticism of Mueller “embarrassing,” and “shocking to watch.”
Journalists sang a very different tune when it was a Democratic President under scrutiny. Accusations of Ken Starr’s supposed partisan zeal and incompetence were commonplace throughout the investigation, and as the probe dragged on, the cacophony of dissenting voices only grew fiercer. MRC analysts combed the archives for the most egregious clips of pundits tearing into the Special Counsel, which can be viewed in the compilation video below.