Legendary journalist Carl Bernstein, one of two reporters who exposed President Richard Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate break-in, said Fox News is aiding a White House “cover-up” relating to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
Appearing on CNN Monday, Bernstein said attacks by conservative news hosts, primarily on Fox News, are helping members of the Trump administration conceal alleged crimes under investigation by Mueller.
“Yes, it abets a cover-up, because there is a cover-up going on in the White House and among President Donald Trump’s aides and former aides relating to the investigations,” Bernstein told host Brian Stelter.
“We don’t know the cover-up constitutes an obstruction of justice or a criminal conspiracy at this point, but there’s a clear cover-up,” Stelter added.
He continued, “These commentators are not open in any way to the best obtainable version of the truth, to facts, context, who seem to be oblivious to the serial lying of the president of the United States and members of his family and staff—they are abetting a cover-up.”
He accused right-wing news hosts of operating a smokescreen—making the conduct of everyone, including Mueller, “the issue, except the president of the United States.”
Fox News hosts have attacked the Mueller probe since charges were filed against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn—who has admitted to lying to the FBI about his contact with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak ahead of Trump’s inauguration.
Last week, Fox News chief propagandist and Trump apologizer Sean Hannity called Mueller and his team of investigators an “utter disgrace.” He claimed that the investigation poses a “direct threat to you, the American people, and our American republic,” and he called for Mueller to resign.
“Mueller’s stooges are literally doing everything within their power and then some to try and remove President Trump from office,” he said.
And on Saturday, right-wing Fox News host Jeanine Pirro called for the FBI and Department of Justice to undergo a “cleansing” that would see Special Counsel Robert Mueller and a number of other staff “locked up.”
Lou Dobbs called for former President Barack Obama to be investigated because the Russian interference “occurred under his administration,” and demanded that Obama be arrested for criticizing Trump.
Fox’s Gregg Jarrett even called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from matters relating to the Russia probe after misleading Congress about contact with Russian officials, to “un-recuse himself” to get rid of “partisans,” including Mueller.
Other Trump allies have appeared on the right-wing network to attack Mueller, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich—who defended Mueller’s appointment in May but last week described Mueller and the “senior FBI” as “corrupt.”
Bernstein has previously compared the Russia investigation to the Watergate scandal that resulted in the resignation of Nixon in 1974.
In November, he said at an event in Chicago that if Trump colluded with Russia to win the presidency, it is “worse than Watergate.” Last week, in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, he called Trump’s “authoritarian” behavior more “egregious” than Nixon’s.
“Richard Nixon is a criminal president who abused his authority in secret throughout his presidency and had to leave office because of it,” Bernstein explained.
“Donald Trump, by contrast, is a president of the United States who has claimed authoritarian powers for himself and exercised them not in secret but openly, and now because of that it looks like he may well have obstructed justice, among other possibly illegal acts.”