Conservative media covered special counsel Robert Mueller today.

Today in Conservative Media: Defining Robert Mueller

Today in Conservative Media: Defining Robert Mueller

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May 18 2017 5:15 PM

Today in Conservative Media: Defining Robert Mueller

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Robert Mueller

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

On Thursday, as many conservative outlets were mourning the death of Roger Ailes (read some right-wing reactions here), they were also processing the news that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel in the bureau’s ongoing Russia investigation.

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Some outlets initially took the news well. The Daily Caller, for example, mostly confined itself to a lengthy quotation from Rosenstein’s statement. Even Gateway Pundit, which is reliably in Trump’s corner, at first refrained from outrage, though it did note in passing, “Mueller is good friends with his successor, now-fired FBI Director James Comey.” (Gateway Pundit would later return to form with “FLASHBACK: Special Counsel Mueller Conspired With Radical Islamic Groups During FBI Tenure,” which severely misrepresents the groups in question.)

Other conservative outlets objected to the appointment on the grounds that it was unfair. A Breitbart headline asked, “Special Counsel for Trump — but Not for Obama Scandals?” Though the post acknowledged that Rosenstein’s decision was arguably “defensible,” it was actually “indefensible” in “historical context,” since the Obama administration had “faced a large number of scandals, many of which involved apparent violations of federal law.”

By contrast, the editors of National Review declared that Trump had brought the special counsel on himself. Reviewing the president’s recent “ham-handed” actions, they wrote, “If Trump had intended to create the conditions for the appointment of a special counsel, he wouldn’t have acted any differently.” Also in National Review, Andrew McCarthy wrote that though he remains “skeptical” of the institution of the special counsel, “In this instance, Rosenstein has chosen well,” since Mueller “is highly regarded by both parties.”

Fox News commentator Erick Erickson argued that Mueller was good for Republicans—and that the left had all but walked into a trap. “Now, the White House can say they cannot discuss the matter because of the Mueller investigation. Likewise, they can claim that any leaks must be false because Mueller would never leak. They can dismiss a large part of the story out of hand.” He also held that Mueller would inevitably exonerate Trump, which would be disastrous for Democratic messaging during the 2018 midterms.

The Federalist took a largely contrary stand in its article, “On Special Counsel Appointment, Democrats Played Republicans For Fools.” Mueller’s appointment, it warned, threatens to intensify partisan conflict by vindicating liberal thinking. “The mere existence of the special counsel will be taken by many on the Left as vindication that they were right all along, that Trump is every bit the sociopathic falsifier they have claimed he is, and that the dictates of justice demand a warm Trump administration body in a cold, soul-crushing cell.” Whatever his strengths, Mueller was destined to become “an invaluable tool to bludgeon the opposition.”

Rush Limbaugh went further, proposing that the appointment wasn’t just about satisfying Democratic interests. Mueller, he claimed on his Thursday radio broadcast, is “the epitome of an establishment guy,” and bringing him in is “a sobering display of the power of the Washington establishment, that with innuendo, fake news, and totally made-up news, we can create enough criminal suspicion to justify yet another investigation into all of this.”

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