Watchdog slams corporate media's 'dismissive coverage' of Durham probe into Clinton campaign spying

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the 2022 New York State Democratic Convention at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel on February 17, 2022 in New York City. | Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

As the corporate media remains silent or dismissive of a report that shows the campaign of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton spied on Donald Trump as a presidential candidate and as president, one media watchdog insists that their failure to cover the issue is leading many Americans to embrace other news sources. 

A filing by former United States Attorney John Durham marks the latest development in the investigation into the origins of the probe of Trump’s alleged ties to the Russian government and Vladimir Putin. The Feb. 11 filing, part of Durham’s investigation into Clinton lawyer Michael Sussmann, asserted that a technology executive working on behalf of Sussmann had “exploited his access to non-public and/or proprietary Internet data” to assemble the white papers designed to convince the FBI that Trump had a sinister relationship with Russia.

“The Government’s evidence at trial will also establish that among the Internet data Tech Executive-1 and his associates exploited was domain name system (‘DNS’) Internet traffic pertaining to (i) a particular healthcare provider, (ii) Trump Tower, (iii) Donald Trump’s Central Park West apartment building, and (iv) the Executive Office of the President of the United States (‘EOP’),” the filing stated. 

Durham also indicated that allegations made about Trump’s relationship with Russia relied on “the purported DNS traffic that Tech Executive-1 and others had assembled pertaining to Trump Tower, Donald Trump’s New York City apartment building, the EOP, and the aforementioned healthcare provider.”

In other words, this legal paperwork proves that despite multiple assertions to the contrary by the corporate media, the Trump campaign was spied on. 

In an interview with The Christian Post, Curtis Houck, the managing editor of the conservative media watchdog NewsBusters, reacted to the media’s coverage, and lack thereof, of the breaking news thus far. He identified MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and his “demeaning [of] those who have been talking about this story” as “stupid or deliberately misleading” as the most outrageous media reaction to the story. 

“I just find it so predictable yet still toxic,” he said.

Houck lamented the media’s “lack of seriousness” and “lack of curiosity for what we’ve been hearing,” adding: “This is a news media that’s spent years wasting our time and wasting the country’s time with a Trump-Russia probe investigation that we now have serious questions about its origins.”

Houck suggested that the media’s lack of interest in covering the story stems from a “defense of the narrative that the media upheld for years, which was that Trump was a Russian agent and this was a slam dunk case.” He contended that “they’re really willing to do anything and everything to continue to defend their narrative because they see it as a reflection on themselves that this story is falling apart.” 

If the media had decided to show “some sort of humility about their errors and ways,” Houck said they would have “more credibility.” He attributed the media’s “dismissive coverage” and “bias by omission” on the latest developments in the Durham investigation to a desire to avoid a “black eye” for their past coverage.

Houck said NBC is the only one of the three networks (NBC, ABC and CBS) that has given any attention to the latest developments in the Durham investigation. NBC’s “Today” show spent 2 minutes and 55 seconds on the story Thursday morning. He described their coverage as “really dismissive."

“They did what a lot of the legacy media have done when they do cover it … which is taking the Clintons at face value.”

“We’re into our what … fourth decade of taking the Clintons at face value?” he posited. “That’s just laughable and inexcusable. People need to remember that … Michael Sussmann, the Clinton lawyer who has been indicted by the Durham probe, is charged with what? Lying.”

Houck contrasted the corporate media’s eagerness to take the Clintons at face value with their coverage of Trump, which has eclipsed their reporting on the developments in the Durham investigation in some cases. He specifically noted that “This past week, they’ve been fixating on Donald Trump losing his longtime … accounting firm that controls the books of the Trump Organization” and “the visitor logs in early January 2021 leading up to January 6.” 

“It’s always a conspiracy with Donald Trump,” he added.

While Houck told CP that MSNBC has given the latest developments in the story “a lot of time,” they have done so with a “very condescending, dismissive tone.” CNN has also given “some time” to the story, while the morning and evening news programs on ABC and CBS, as well as NBC's "Nightly News" with Lester Holt, have not devoted any time to the story thus far.

Houck identified the media’s lack of coverage of the latest development in the Durham probe  as one of several reasons that “people have tuned out the legacy media and have instead turned to alternative forms of media.”

“For all of the problems we see in the information age with the internet and social media companies and censorship, I continue to believe that it is a … net positive because you have all these alternative forms of media where people can get a more comprehensive media diet looking at a variety of sources,” he added. 

Examples of “alternative forms of media” mentioned by Houck included “writers on Substack” as well as Fox News, Newsmax and NewsBusters. He encouraged the American people to dig into the facts for themselves, highlighting that “there are documents [that] people can look at.” 

“The story is not going to go away,” Houck predicted. “MSNBC coming out and trying to dismiss it as dangerous disinformation and stupid and being peddled by deliberate liars will only further lengthen the life in which the story has [value] in the eyes of other people.”

From Houck’s perspective, only “continued pressure” from conservatives will lead to additional coverage of the latest development in the Durham probe. “I think you don’t even have to be a conservative to want press accountability and the press to cover a wide variety of stories. I often say that the news media can walk and chew gum at the same time when it comes to covering multiple stories of a wide range of topics and policy fronts.”

“In a newscast, people can talk about education or crime or COVID or Ukraine-Russia and what’s going on with John Durham,” he continued. Houck doesn't expect to see “on the hour, five-minute segments” about the story but would like “consistent coverage in the leads of these newscasts and on the front pages of newspapers” as opposed to “blanket dismissals” and a characterization of the story as “dangerous misinformation.” 

Houck expressed hope that when Durham concludes his report that the media would provide “more coverage” of the results of the investigation, stressing that "This story really matters.” 

“It’s in the interest of everyone, regardless of their political ideology, to find out what happened and to actually look at this and take it seriously.” He expressed concern that “looking at someone’s internet traffic … is viewed as commonplace when it shouldn’t be.”

As many media outlets have remained silent on the latest Durham filing, both Trump and Clinton have weighed in.

Trump released a statement last weekend proclaiming that the “latest pleading from Special Counsel [John] Durham provides indisputable evidence that my campaign and presidency were spied on by operatives paid by the Hillary Clinton Campaign in an effort to develop a completely fabricated connection to Russia.” 

“This is a scandal far greater in scope and magnitude than Watergate and those who were involved in and knew about this spying operation should be subject to criminal prosecution. In a stronger period of time in our country, this crime would have been punishable by death. In addition, reparations should be paid to those in our country who have been damaged by this.”

Clinton took to Twitter Wednesday to dismiss the latest development in the Durham probe as a “fake scandal to distract from his real ones.” She also included a link to a Vanity Fair piece, which she praised as a “good debunking of their latest nonsense.”

Former Attorney General William Barr appointed Durham, who served as the U.S. Attorney for Connecticut at the time, to “investigate whether any federal official, employee, or other person or entity violated the law in connection with the intelligence, counter-intelligence, or law-enforcement activities directed at the 2016 presidential campaigns, individuals associated with the administration of President Donald J. Trump, including but not limited to Crossfire Hurricane,” the code name for the investigation into ties between Trump and Russia.

The Trump-Russia probe led to the appointment of a special counsel, which spent nearly two years investigating the former president. Much of the media engaged in speculation about wrongdoing on behalf of Trump and repeatedly assured the American public that the investigation would lead to impeachment and criminal charges against the former president. While Trump was impeached twice by the Democratic-controlled House, the attempts failed in the Senate and neither impeachment was related to the Trump-Russia probe. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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