A daily roundup of the biggest stories in right-wing media.
On Monday, conservative publications found yet another suspect for alleged Obama-era surveillance of Trump associates: Susan Rice. Glossing the initial assertions, Breitbart wrote:
Susan Rice, who was former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, did not respond to a report from Bloomberg columnist Eli Lake that on multiple occasions, she made requests to unmask United States citizens connected to President Donald Trump’s transition team.
That story continued to build, and by Tuesday some right-wing outlets were claiming that Obama administration surveillance of conservatives was even more widespread. For instance, this Gateway Pundit post: “BREAKING on Rice-Gate: Obama Admin Spied on Sean Hannity and Erik Prince Too!”
In an opinion essay for Fox News, commentator Liz Peek chided liberals for ignoring the story. “The left would rather focus on speculation that the Trump campaign colluded with Russian agents to undermine Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, even though to date there has been zero evidence to support any such charge,” she wrote.
In National Review, Andrew C. McCarthy argued that Rice’s alleged actions constitute a massive scandal:
The national-security adviser is not an investigator. She is a White House staffer. The president’s staff is a consumer of intelligence, not a generator or collector of it. If Susan Rice was unmasking Americans, it was not to fulfill an intelligence need based on American interests; it was to fulfill a political desire based on Democratic-party interests.
On Fox & Friends, Laura Ingraham echoed elements of this point, noting that while the alleged unmasking “very well might have been legal” it was “reprehensible” if Rice “had a political motive”:
Many outlets fixated on an unproven assertion that Rice had, as the Daily Caller put it, “ordered U.S. spy agencies to produce ‘detailed spreadsheets’ of legal phone calls involving Donald Trump and his aides when he was running for president.” Though it cited former U.S. attorney Joseph diGenova—who does not appear to have held any official role in the Obama government during the period in question—as the source of this claim, it did not explain how he had acquired the information, saying only, “Other official sources with direct knowledge and who requested anonymity confirmed [his] description of surveillance reports Rice ordered one year before the 2016 presidential election.” DiGenova’s allegations subsequently spread widely throughout the conservative media ecosystem.
Sean Hannity sternly insisted that Rice explain herself:
While many outlets did acknowledge Rice’s denials of impropriety, most did so in a way that still suggested she was guilty—or at least in trouble. Drudge Report, for example, linked to coverage from the Hill via the phrase “Boiled Rice”:
Breitbart furnished readers with other reasons to dislike Rice in a post titled “5 Susan Rice Scandal Facts Every American Must Know.” Only one of those items was directly related to the supposed surveillance of Trump associates. Other “scandals” included “Rice claimed that climate change was responsible for the deadly civil war in Syria” and “Rice once declared that there is ‘no military solution’ to the raging conflict in Yemen.”
The Rice story was also popular on social media, and Facebook posts about it spread widely: