It may be premature to castigate the news media when a lot questions remain unanswered. Attorney General William Barr only provided a four-page summary of Mueller’s report, which notably on the issue of obstruction, “does not conclude that the president committed a crime,” but “also does not exonerate him.” It remains unclear why, exactly, Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded over the weekend that there was not sufficient evidence to support obstruction — especially as the president was never interviewed.
Also, blaming “the media” writ large is problematic in potentially lumping unsupported speculation — whether on cable news or on social media — with dogged reporting on an investigation which led to a half-dozen Trump associates, including a former campaign chairman and national security adviser, either being charged or pleading guilty to crimes. Not to mention, there are still a dozen investigations, largely based in New York, stemming from the special counsel’s investigation.
And while fair-minded criticism can be beneficial to the news media, there are likely to also be bad faith attempts to delegitimize journalism (as the president has attempted to do for years in dismissing “fake news” and characterizing the media as “the enemy”). A Trump adviser told CNN’s Jim Acosta to expect the president and his team to “slam and shame the media” in the coming days. Trump Jr. will appear Monday night on Fox News’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”