Primetime Fox News hosts were quick Monday to downplay the latest reports regarding Donald Trump Jr. meeting with a Kremlin-tied lawyer during the 2016 campaign, saying they are further proof of the mainstream media’s misguided obsession with the administration’s possible ties to Russia.
Tucker Carlson spent a few minutes on the story, calling it “the latest installment in the ongoing Russia conspiracy soap opera” before criticizing CNN host Chris Cuomo for his Monday morning interview with Kellyanne Conway.
Co-hosts of “The Five” discussed the story for the first 14 minutes of the show, but were divided on its significance. They then moved on to other topics, including CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s relationship with White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
At 10 p.m. EDT, Sean Hannity berated the media for “working itself into a frenzy” over a simple meeting, and he moderated a segment speculating that the whole get-together could have been a setup by Democrats to give the appearance of the Trump campaign colluding with Russia.
Shortly before 9 p.m. EDT, The New York Times reported another bombshell: Before meeting with a Russian lawyer who said she had damaging information on Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Jr. received an email saying the intel was part of a Russian government effort to aid Trump’s campaign.
But neither “The Five” nor “Hannity” reported on the latest news. Hannity’s Monday night program was pre-taped, so the host wouldn’t have been able to share it with viewers, according to CNN’s Brian Stelter.
In contrast, MSNBC and CNN hosts cut into their regularly scheduled programming with the latest Times report just minutes after the story broke, and used the news to inform the rest of their shows.
Maggie Haberman, one of the reporters who co-bylined the Times report, joined Anderson Cooper by phone soon after the article was published to discuss it.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow interrupted her programming to report the news, and discussed it during her interview with Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
The Times’ Monday story was the latest in a series of major reports the outlet has published about the president’s son in recent days. Over the weekend, the Times reported Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer who promised the Trump campaign damaging information on Clinton.
Trump Jr. issued two different statements in response, first saying the meeting was on the topic of adoption, then saying the meeting was arranged on the premise that the lawyer had information that could be helpful to the campaign, but ended up offering nothing of substance before focusing on adoption.
Though the White House defended Trump Jr. Monday, several former GOP campaign operatives said they would not have agreed to such a meeting involving a foreign agent. Others speculated Trump Jr. may have violated campaign finance laws that prohibit candidates from soliciting contributions from foreign nationals.