Tim Murtaugh, Director of Communications for Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, sent a memo to TV producers regarding who they should put on TV. Imagine what would happen if we took this seriously?
The text of Murtaugh’s memo to producers at networks like CNN is below.
To: Television Producers
From: Tim Murtaugh Director of Communications, Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.
Date: March 25, 2019
Regarding: Credibility of Certain Guests
As you know, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report found that no one associated with President Donald J. Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russia, despite repeated offers from Russia-linked operatives. The Special Counsel also made no recommendation on obstruction, which is a decision in itself. Using the information provided by Mueller, the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General determined that there was no obstruction. This is all the result of the Special Counsel’s 2,800 subpoenas, 500 search warrants, 500 witness interviews, 40 FBI age., 19 lawyers, and $25 million in taxpayer funds. The only way to interpret these conclusions is as a total and complete vindication of President Trump.
The issuance of these definitive findings comes after two years of Democrat leaders and others lying to the American people by vigorously and repeatedly claiming there was evidence of collusion. They made many of these false claims, without evidence, on your airwaves.
The list of guests who made outlandish, false claims includes, but is not limited to:
- Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT): “The evidence is pretty clear that there was collision between the Trump campaign and the Russians…” (MSNBC, “All In,” 10/17/18)
- Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): “I think there’s plenty of evidence of collusion or conspiracy in plain sight ” (“CBS This Morning,” 8/5/18)
- Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY): “There was obviously a lot of collusion. The question is how high. Every day we — every day — every so often we get new information about involvement “(CNN, “Erin Burnett OutFront,” 10/27/17)
- Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA): “In our investigation, we saw strong evidence of collusion.” (CNN, “Wolf,” 3/16/18)
- DNC Chairman Tom Perez: “And over the course of the last year we have seen, I think, a mountain of evidence of collusion between the campaign and the Russians to basically. affect our democracy.” (NBC, “Meet the Press,” 4/22/18)
- Former CIA Director John Brennan: “I called his behavior treasonous which is to betray one’s trust and to aiding and abet the enemy and I stand very much by that claim.” (NBC, “Meet the Press,” 8/19/18)
Moving forward, we ask that you employ basic journalistic standards when booking such guests to appear anywhere in your universe of productions. You should begin by asking the basic question:
“Does this guest warrant further appearances in our programming, given the outrageous and unsupported claims made in the past?”
At a minimum, if these guests do reappear, you should replay the prior statements and challenge them to provide the evidence which prompted them to make the wild claims in the first place.
The American people have been bombarded by these accusations, through the media, for two long years. They have been told that their legitimately elected president had colluded with Russia — a claim proven to be false. At this point, there must be introspection from the media who facilitated the reckless statements and a serious evaluation of how such guests are considered and handled in the future.
What’s wrong with this?
Here are a few things that are problematic about this memo.
- No one at cable news or on any other outlet will let a campaign tell them who they can put on their air under what conditions. That’s how it works in America.
- Most of these quotes don’t say that Trump colluded. Read them. Except for Nadler’s, they say there was evidence of collusion (or in the case of the misquote of Blumenthal, “collision”). What we know of the Mueller report, according to the summary that Attorney General Barr released, is that it didn’t find that evidence at a standard that the Justice Department could prosecute on, not that no evidence exists.
- If we didn’t allow people on TV who said things that turned out not to be true, no one with an opinion would ever be on allowed on TV. Outrage, bias, unsupported claims are rife. This is a sad spectacle, but as a technique, it was pioneered by Fox News 20 years ago. Why suddenly get upset about it now?
- Finally, read this from the memo again: “You should begin by asking the basic question: ‘Does this guest warrant further appearances in our programming, given the outrageous and unsupported claims made in the past?‘ ” According to the Washington Post, Trump has made 8,158 false or misleading claims since taking office. If we adhere to this standard, the first person who TV producers should never put on television is the president.
This is just more chum to stir up the waters. But even from that perspective, it’s pretty silly.
Here’s the full memo: