Comey's Memoir Plays Differently in Fractured Media Landscape

  • Right-leaning news outlets trumpet Trump’s rebuttal tweet
  • MSNBC host Maddow reads long excerpts from new book on air

Comey Likens Trump To A Mafia Boss

Depending on where you get your news, former FBI director James Comey is either a “weak and untruthful slime ball” or author of “the most devastating, contemporaneous takedown of a sitting president in modern history.”

Those two stories -- on the websites Breitbart News and CNN.com, respectively -- offer a snapshot of how Comey’s new memoir is being covered in a fractured media landscape. Many news outlets obtained copies of the book in advance of its formal release next week.

Comey’s book is a bestseller on Amazon.com, so many people will read it for themselves. But many others will likely never read it at all and form their opinions through the prism of a media industry that often filters the news to give audiences what they want to hear.

Trump-friendly news outlets quickly took a cue from the president and played up his Friday morning attack of Comey on Twitter, in which he said the former agency chief is “a proven leaker and liar” and an “untruthful slime ball.” Some zeroed in on a claim about former Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s investigation into the Hillary Clinton’s email server.

“Comey: Classified Info Would Have ‘Cast Serious Doubt’ on Loretta Lynch Handling Clinton Investigation,” blared a headline on the right-leaning website Daily Caller.

Sinclair Support

Websites of local TV stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., which Trump recently defended, ran the headline: “Trump says it was ‘great honor’ to fire ‘untruthful slimeball’ Comey.” A story from Sinclair’s CBS12 in West Palm Beach, Florida, embedded Trump’s tweets and a clip from Fox News of White House adviser Kellyanne Conway describing Comey as “a disgruntled ex-employee.”

On Friday morning, Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt suggested there were other more pressing issues in the world, asking that if the U.S. and its allies decided to bomb Syria, “Don’t you think that story would be a bigger story than Comey’s book?”

Meanwhile, on left-leaning MSNBC Thursday night, Rachel Maddow spent about six minutes reading from Comey’s book on air, highlighting passages like his description of Trump’s team trying to “spin” Russia’s involvement in the presidential election.

Fox News is the highest-rated cable channel, and about 1.5 million people watch “Fox & Friends” each morning. “The Rachel Maddow Show” averaged more than 3 million viewers a night in the first quarter.

Others played up the more lurid details from Comey’s television interview promoting his new memoir on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “Comey: Discussing ‘Pee Tape’ Dossier with Trump Was ‘Out of Body Experience,” read a Huffington Post headline.

The Washington Post described Comey’s book as “scathing” while the New York Times headline said it offered “a grim view of Trump.”

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