Conservative media focused on James Comey's testimony today.

Today in Conservative Media: The Limitations of Comey’s Testimony

Today in Conservative Media: The Limitations of Comey’s Testimony

The Slatest
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March 20 2017 5:16 PM

Today in Conservative Media: The Limitations of Comey’s Testimony

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FBI Director James Comey.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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A daily roundup of the biggest stories in right-wing media.

FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before Congress dominated conservative media on Monday.

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First, there was expectation-setting. In advance of the hearing, a Fox News contributor wrote, “What worries Democrats is what Comey may say about Obama administration surveillance of the Trump campaign.” On Fox News itself, pundit Noah Rothman suggested that Democrats would be “disappointed” if Comey failed to produce a “smoking gun indicating that Moscow was working on behalf of the Trump campaign,” warning that they might not take the director at his word.

Initially, most conservative publications covered the primary revelations of the hearing as straightforward news. “Comey: The FBI Is Investigating ‘Whether There Was Any Coordination’ Between Trump Camp and Russia,” read the headline to a brief Breitbart post that quoted Comey’s remarks on the topic at length. The Blaze published, “FBI Director Comey Undercuts Trump on Wiretapping Allegations,” in which it noted, “Comey said that he has no evidence to support that claim.”

Many publications, however, stressed the limitations of Comey’s remarks: A headline on Infowars read, “Intelligence Hearing Reveals No Trump-Russia Connections.” And a Breitbart post proposed that Comey’s admission of an investigation “was not a confirmation of those links, or any wrongdoing.” Some outlets also suggested that the effects of Russian meddling in the election were likely minimal. The Daily Caller, for example, wrote, “Both Comey and [National Security Agency Director Mike] Rogers reiterated that Russian meddling did not effect [sic] any vote tallies in the 2016 election.

Other conservative outlets quickly pivoted to the question of leaks, which Rep. Trey Gowdy pressed during the hearing. Gateway Pundit ran a post claiming, “The leaks to the liberal media were meant to damage Trump administration officials.LifeZette also focused on Gowdy’s remarks in “Comey: Obama White House, DOJ Could Have Unmasked Flynn,” writing:

While Democrats on the committee pressed in vain for testimony linking Trump and his associates to collusion with Russian officials who U.S. intelligence agencies say tried to influence the 2016 election, Gowdy and other Republicans kept the focus on the only crime that has been identified so far—illegal dissemination of conversations recorded by intelligence authorities.
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Rush Limbaugh, meanwhile, argued that Comey had been working to protect himself and other members of the establishment in an attempt to keep Trump from “draining the swamp.” Frustrated that the hearing had not focused more on investigations into Hillary Clinton, Limbaugh concluded,

James Comey says the Russians are trying to undermine faith in our elections. Maybe. But I’ll tell you what’s happening today on Capitol Hill is doing more to undermine faith in our elections than anything the Russians have done.

Less conspiratorially-minded outlets mostly took Comey at his word when he said there was no evidence of President Obama wiretapping Trump. Fox News wrote, “Comey used his appearance to effectively knock down a series of allegations Trump tweeted earlier this month about supposed wiretapping conducted against him by his predecessor.Independent Journal Review wrote, “Trump has yet to provide any evidence for the claims” and quoted Comey’s assertion that “no president could unilaterally order a wiretap of anyone.”

On social media, Facebook posts about the Trump family were widely shared and heavily liked:

A post from Infowars celebrating the death of David Rockefeller, who it called “a globalist central banker” was also shared thousands of times: