PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania — The reason Donald Trump’s comments Wednesday morning about Russian hackers and Hillary Clinton’s missing emails have become such a big deal is that the mainstream media were told today to make them so.
To be precise: Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon told the morning press briefing at the Democratic National Convention that the main theme of the day, and especially the evening speeches, would be to contrast Clinton and Trump on national security. The message: Donald Trump is unfit to be commander-in-chief. As I noted from the briefing at the time:
— Joel B. Pollak (@joelpollak) July 27, 2016
Then, Trump held an extensive press conference, where he was asked about the accusation that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee’s emails, which were released by Wikileaks late last week and showed party officials colluding with the Clinton campaign. Many in the media seem to believe that Russia not only hacked the emails, but did so on Trump’s behalf.
Here is Trump’s abridged response to questions, when asked about it this morning. Note the section in bold:
It’s just a total deflection, this whole thing with Russia … By the way, they hacked — they probably have her 33,000 e-mails. I hope they do. They probably have her 33,000 e-mails that she lost and deleted because you’d see some beauties there. So let’s see….
[I]f it is Russia, nobody even knows this, it’s probably China, or it could be somebody sitting in his bed. But it shows how weak we are, it shows how disrespected we are … So I know nothing about it. It’s one of the most farfetched I’ve ever heard.
I have nothing to do with Putin. I’ve never spoken to him. I don’t know anything about him other than he will respect me. He doesn’t respect our president. And if it is Russia — which it’s probably not, nobody knows who it is — but if it is Russia, it’s really bad for a different reason, because it shows how little respect they have for our country, when they would hack into a major party and get everything. But it would be interesting to see — I will tell you this — Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens. That’ll be next. Yes, sir…
The media turned that facetious comment — only a small part of a long, wide-ranging press conference — into an explicit call for Russia to commit cyber-war against the United States. Treason, in other words.
On a list of the top 500 most offensive or troubling things Trump has ever said, that would not even merit honorable mention and a consolation prize. But the media blew it up because it fit exactly with the script for the day, as laid out by the Clinton campaign for the press earlier in the morning.
Of course, Trump benefits as well. He is dominating the news cycle during the Democratic National Convention. And the public is being reminded, albeit indirectly, about Hillary Clinton’s email scandal — which is, after Benghazi, one of the most damning arguments against her as commander-in-chief. She put American lives at risk by mishandling classified information — a crime for which any other American would have faced severe consequences, such as losing their job or going to prison.
But the media think they are helping Clinton by reinforcing what they were told by the Clinton campaign to report. And so MSNBC, which is touting its temporary ratings boost during the convention, has had a slew of guests on the air to talk about how deeply concerned they are by Trump’s joke, how it breaks the sacred, unwritten rules of American political discourse.
Never mind that it was Hillary who pushed the infamous “reset” button, which heralded an age of appeasement that saw the U.S. back down on missile defense, yield its dominance in the Middle East, and leave Ukraine defenseless against Putin.
This is how the media work, and how they cover Democrats. They let the party write the script, and eagerly play their part.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.