A daily roundup of the biggest stories in right-wing media.
On Saturday morning, President Donald Trump tweeted multiple times, alleging that the Obama administration had tapped his phones. His claims were reportedly inspired by a Breitbart article that summed up speculation from conservative radio host Mark Levin, who had, in turn, drawn on a Heat Street article from November of last year.
While Heat Street took a victory lap of sorts in “WH Calls for Congressional Investigation Into Alleged Wiretapping of Trump Campaign, First Reported by Heat Street,” it otherwise presented subsequent developments mostly straight. The Daily Caller, meanwhile, wrote on Monday that Trump’s claims had “raised many more questions than answers about the ongoing probe of Trump advisers’ possible ties to the Russian government.” Though that article pointed to some efforts by the Obama administration that it described as “damning,” it went on to state, “the reporting does not support the claim that Obama directed Trump’s phones to be tapped.”
Deeming the controversy “Deepstategate,” Breitbart greeted it more enthusiastically in an article titled, “Trump Ends the Wiretapping Innuendo Game by Dealing Himself In.” The piece speculated that Trump may have been strategically forcing the left to reveal its own sources—or admit that it didn’t have any to begin with. “After months of unfounded allegations and badly sourced speculation intended to cripple his administration, maybe Trump wanted to prove that only one side of the partisan divide is permitted to make ‘wild allegations,’ ” it read.
National Review called a denial from an Obama administration spokesperson “disingenuous on several levels.” Without presenting clear evidence that the Obama administration had pursued a FISA investigation against the Trump campaign, the piece insisted that the then-president could have done so. It went on: “Unless there was some powerful evidence that the candidate was actually acting as an agent of a foreign power, such activity would amount to a pretextual use of national-security power for political purposes. That is the kind of abuse that led to Richard Nixon’s resignation in lieu of impeachment.”
Others found the president’s allegations still more credible. Gateway Pundit rounded up “More Than a Dozen Proven Victims of Obama’s Many Wiretaps,” drawing primarily on information from WikiLeaks. On Fox News, meanwhile, contributor Michael Goodwin, opined, “Clearly there was some surveillance going on. How else do they know that Jeff Sessions met twice with the Russian ambassador? How else do they know what Flynn said to the Russia ambassador?”
Many outlets were unhappy with nonconservative publications that had criticized the president’s allegations. In “New York Times Parses Trump Tweets to Call Obama Spying a ‘Conspiracy Theory,’ ” for example, Breitbart noted that the New York Times had helped inspire Trump’s claims. “If that is a ‘conspiracy theory,’ then the Times must retract its own reporting,” the piece asserted, before noting, “the Times pointedly refused to link to Breitbart, refusing to allow its readers an opportunity to make up their own minds.”
Posts describing the Obama administration’s supposed penchant for wiretaps were widely shared from conservative Facebook pages: