CNN appears to have renamed the “Russia collusion” storyline, referring to it as the “Russia conspiracy” in a story Monday evening about how many Democrats are still clinging to the idea that Donald Trump could be culpable.
The story, “Democrats not yet ready to conclude there’s no Russia conspiracy,” by Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb, walks through the various levels of Democratic Party reaction to Attorney General William Barr’s summary on Sunday of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which found there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Some Democrats still insist that “there is evidence that, in fact, conspiracy or collusion occurred at some level.” Many are demanding to see the full report and the underlying evidence, despite concerns in the Department of Justice about protecting the integrity of grand jury proceedings and the rights of those targeted by investigations. Others are clinging to the fact that Mueller did not exonerate Trump on the specific question of obstruction of justice, though both Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded there was insufficient evidence. Still others are grumbling that Mueller’s investigative mandate did not go far enough.
But what is perhaps most noteworthy is the shift in CNN’s own terminology. The term “conspiracy” refers to a specific crime (unlike “collusion,” which is not actually a criminal offense). But it also evokes the term “conspiracy theory,” which usually refers to a fanciful or false explanation at odds with reality.
CNN played a key role in hyping the conspiracy theory of Russia collusion. Its semantic shift to “conspiracy” could merely be an acknowledgment of reality, following the publication of the Mueller report summary. Or it could be an attempt to evade responsibility for a massive journalistic failure.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.