The Trump administration's narrative regarding the Stormy Daniels case unraveled completely Wednesday night after Rudy Giuliani's admission that the president repaid Michael Cohen the $130,000 used to silence the adult film star shortly before the 2016 election. Though the White House spent most of Thursday trying to untangle the factual mess created by Giuliani – the high-profile addition to Trump's legal team – the crusade against FAKE NEWS marches on.
On Thursday afternoon, Trump's team was handed a fresh piece of chum when NBC News initially reported that Michael Cohen had been wiretapped by the FBI prior to last month's raid of the attorney's office and hotel room. The report turned out to be false, and later that afternoon the network corrected the mistake, explaining that Cohen's calls were monitored with a pen register, which can only trace to whom and from whom Cohen was placing and receiving calls and texts, but not the actual content of the conversations.
Anyone who has been following how Trump and Fox News have used mainstream media slip-ups to their advantage knew exactly what was coming next.
As expected, a positively gleeful Fox & Friends crew pounced on the news Friday morning.
Media issues major correction as Cohen wiretap allegations prove to be false pic.twitter.com/jFI74AQxlk— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) May 4, 2018
The correction even moved Trump to amend his constantly shuffling rankings of the worst Fake News offenders, tweeting Friday morning that "his former home with the Apprentice, is now as bad as Fake News CNN!"
NBC NEWS is wrong again! They cite “sources” which are constantly wrong. Problem is, like so many others, the sources probably don’t exist, they are fabricated, fiction! NBC, my former home with the Apprentice, is now as bad as Fake News CNN. Sad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 4, 2018
But as the call-and-response between Fox & Friends and the president continues, others in conservative media appear to be growing weary of Trump's double standard when it comes to the truth. On Friday morning, the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, which has defended Trump on several occasions, published a scathing piece entitled, "Does Trump want Americans to believe him in a genuine crisis?"
"But Mr. Trump’s public deceptions are surely relevant to his job as President, and the attempted cover-up has done greater harm than any affair would have," the board wrote. "Mr. Trump asked Americans, not least his supporters, to believe his claims about the payments. They were false and conveniently so in putting the onus on Mr. Cohen. Now, as more of the story has emerged, he wants everyone to believe a new story that he could have told the first time."
The harshest criticism, however, may have come from a different corner of Fox News. In one of his "Common Sense" segments, Neil Cavuto on Thursday went into detail pointing out that while Trump continues to point the finger at mainstream media, no one has muddied the waters between fact and fiction more than the president, himself.
"President Trump is fond of calling out the media on fake news, but is he the one giving them very real ammunition?" Cavuto asked before reeling off an extensive list of the president’s misleading or outright false statements.
Catch Neil's latest Common Sense pic.twitter.com/JdGCX4WmjF— Neil Cavuto (@TeamCavuto) May 3, 2018
Cavuto also highlighted Trump's dubious statements about said Russia interfering, the historic size of the tax bill, the job security of administration officials, his approval ratings, the Mueller investigation, voter fraud, the stability of his legal team and more.
He took care to hedge by noting that Trump may not be lying "deliberately," that "none of this makes [Trump] evil," and that he still supports Trump; he's just "confused." Nevertheless, it's pretty striking to hear the words Cavuto used to conclude the segment uttered on Fox:
"I guess you’re too busy draining the swamp to stop and smell the stink that you’re creating. That’s your doing. That’s your stink. Mr. President, that’s your swamp."