MSNBC host Rachel Maddow was called out by a media watchdog group for deceiving viewers when she failed to mention details of reports seemingly clearing Donald Trump Jr. of suspicions that he made phone calls to President Trump around the time of the Trump Tower meeting with Russians in June 2016.
Mediaite’s Caleb Howe penned an opinion piece on Monday headlined, “Rachel Maddow’s narrative on Don Jr.’s ‘blocked calls’ disappeared. She forgot to tell her audience.”
Howe explained that Maddow and “many of her guests” were wildly suspicious about whether or not the president’s oldest son spoke to his father after the Trump Tower meeting.
“She wondered hard, breathlessly. Rife with implication did she wonder, and heavily hanging the implied conclusion of collusion upon it,” Howe wrote. “But the assumption turned out not to be the case.”
Last week reports appeared to vindicate Trump Jr. when Senate investigators obtained phone records which appeared to show that he had actually spoken to two longtime family friends, The New York Times reported. Democrats and Trump’s critics had long suspected the calls were between Trump Jr. and his then-candidate father regarding the meeting with Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign.
Once it was reported that Trump Jr. was not on the phone with his father, it was major news across much of the media landscape.
“But not hot enough for details on Rachel Maddow’s show,” Howe wrote before pointing out that Adam Schiff, D-Calif.,was actually a guest on her show last Thursday after the news broke.
“This is not MSNBC reporting and MSNBC hasn’t confirmed this, but they’re saying Senate investigators have obtained information about something that you have asked about in the past concerning Donald Trump Jr.,” Maddow told Schiff without informing her viewers that reports essentially squashed her theory.
“In his rambling response, Schiff not only didn’t indicate the reporting that it was not a father-son phone call, he implied that the open question remains to be investigated,” Howe wrote. “At no point does Maddow tell viewers what the ‘new reporting’ actually was. Maddow says ‘this is not MSNBC’s reporting,’ but she doesn’t [say] whose reporting it is. For the record, it was CNN. And ABC News. And the New York Times.”
MSNBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Howe noted that speculation is common on cable news programs but “speculation doesn’t always pan out” and after Maddow hyperventilated about the then-suspicious calls “it would seem a correction or even an update would be a demand of journalism.”
"Even for an opinion show, that goes past shoddy and approaches deceptive”
The Mediaite editor concluded: “Yet, given the chance to tell her viewers not only that Senate investigators have evidence it was not a call to his father, that major media were reporting this that very day, or even the names of the people who were actually called (itself an interesting Russian lead), Maddow instead chose to gloss over it and let Schiff continue to beat his well-worn drum. Even for an opinion show, that goes past shoddy and approaches deceptive.”
Trump Jr. has maintained that Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer he met with at Trump Tower, did not have any information to share and instead wanted to discuss the Magnitsky Act and other sanctions.
The Trump Tower meeting has been under intense scrutiny from investigators seeking whether Trump colluded with Russia in the 2016 presidential election. Investigators are also looking at the financial ties between Trump associates and the Kremlin.
Fox News’ Stephen Sorace contributed to this report.