Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent has argued that former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ recent backing of Donald Trump’s handling of government documents was “so ludicrous that he deserved to be laughed off the set” of Newsmax, but that his “nonsense was permitted to slide by”.
It was recently revealed that White House aides at times found official documents clogging up the toilets during Mr Trump’s presidency. The news followed reports that Mr Trump failed to hand over a number of boxes of documents to the National Archives, which had to be retrieved from Mr Trump’s Florida home. It’s also been reported that Mr Trump regularly tore up and at times even chewed on documents.
Mr Meadows mocked the media for suggesting that documents torn up by Mr Trump and taped together by aides “show some nefarious purpose”.
“Yet they will ignore Nancy Pelosi ripping up something on national TV behind the president,” Mr Meadows said, seemingly referring to the speaker ripping up a copy of Mr Trump’s 2020 State of the Union speech.
“Pelosi’s act in no sense denied the public information, whereas withholding presidential documents very well might, and might also break the Presidential Records Act, a law,” Mr Sargent noted. “What’s notable beyond this epic stupidity is that Meadows’s Newsmax host didn’t bat an eye. In fact, when Meadows drew a direct equivalence between these two acts, his host assented.”
The columnist went on to state that the media obsession with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s emails during the 2016 campaign “look pretty ridiculous” in comparison to Mr Trump’s more severe transgressions.
Mr Sargent noted that Mr Meadows still attempted “to cast Clinton’s conduct as the only real scandal”.
“When a lot of that was actually happening with Hillary Clinton, there was actually an investigation,” Mr Meadows said, seemingly referring to the Clinton probe conducted by the FBI. He claimed that she had “purposely” destroyed documents. “There is no comparison,” he said.
“The suggestion that Clinton nefariously ‘destroyed documents’ in connection with that investigation is nonsense. Yet this, too, skated past, undisturbed,” Mr Sargent added after his initial observation that “one big advantage Republicans have right now is their massive network of right-wing media spinners”.
“Viewers of this Newsmax interview will come away learning only that Clinton destroyed documents in connection with an investigation, that Pelosi’s destruction of documents was given a pass by the media, and that Trump’s treatment of documents has exactly zero nefarious implications of any kind,” Mr Sargent wrote. “It’s a narrative hermetically insulated from any and all facts that contradict or even just challenge it.”
The columnist went on to say that the amount of coverage devoted to Ms Clinton’s emails was “truly extraordinary” and that “it amplified the GOP message of using the email non-scandal to spin a vague aura of corruption around Clinton”.
“Because mainstream media properly represent all sides of a story, Republicans can inject all manner of unsupported claims to muddy the waters around Trump’s transgressions, and around their own hypocritical treatment of them,” Mr Sargent said. “That contrasts sharply with the alternate narrative offered in right-wing media, which simply erases not just the other side’s arguments, but also wholesale sets of facts that objectively contradict that narrative.”