Mainstream media ignores, downplays declassified list of Obama officials who requested 'unmasking' of Flynn

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Much of the mainstream media either downplayed or completely ignored the newly released list of top Obama officials who had requested the unmasking of former national security advisor Michael Flynn.

After acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell declassified the controversial requests to identify Flynn in surveilled communications he had with the Russian ambassador, Congress made the list public on Wednesday and several prominent figures appeared to have been involved in the unmasking, including former Vice President Joe Biden, former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan, former DNI James Clapper, former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power, former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and former White House chief of staff Denis McDonough.

However, there was scarce coverage of the breaking news across the media landscape.

Broadcast networks ABC and NBC completely ignored the unmasking list during their evening programs. "World News Tonight" and "NBC Nightly News" kept much of its focus on the latest developments in the coronavirus outbreak while "CBS Evening News" briefly addressed the controversy.


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The New York Times delayed publishing any report about the unmasking until later in the evening. Meanwhile, The Washington Post did not run a new report but updated an earlier story about how both President Trump and Biden are "seeking" to make President Obama "central to their campaigns." Both papers jointly won the Pulitzer in 2018 for its reporting on the Russia investigation.

While MSNBC briefly mentioned the news in the afternoon, CNN waited nearly four hours before covering the unmasking on air. Its online report came even later.

CNN anchor Jake Tapper didn't even mention it in the Wednesday’s edition of his show “The Lead,” which began shortly after the news broke.

When CNN finally covered the story they downplayed it, saying Clapper and other Obama-era officials handled it correctly. “Politics plays a huge role in why this is now a story,” senior justice correspondent Evan Perez told viewers.


The network's slow-footed coverage is a stark contrast to its relentless pursuit of the story before Special Counsel Robert Mueller put the collusion theory to bed in April 2019. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, CNN devoted 26 percent of its total news coverage to the Trump-Russia collusion theory from Election Day in 2016 until April 19, 2019.

Wednesday’s unmasking documents came just a day after Biden told ABC News’ “Good Morning America” that he knew “nothing about those moves to investigate Michael Flynn,” and called the topic a “diversion” from the coronavirus pandemic.

Fox News' Brian Flood contributed to this report.