Lawrence O’Donnell: If Not for Trump, I Swear I’d Cover Menendez!

MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell would love to cover the Robert Menendez corruption trial. He really would. But he simply can’t because… Donald Trump. That was the lame excuse offered by O’Donnell on Monday as he talked to a Philadelphia radio host. Put on the spot about the media hiding the Democrat’s bribery case, the liberal host blamed circumstances: “If we had any other president in the White House, any other of the Republicans that were running for president, never mind, have Hillary Clinton as president, the Menendez trial would be a very big item in all of our coverage.” 

The MSNBC host conceded, “I haven’t talked about Menendez since the charges were first brought. I actually talked about him more before the charges were filed because our presidential politics have overwhelmed it.” 

So it’s Trump’s fault? As the host himself hinted, other than a few passing references, O’Donnell last seriously covered Menendez on April 1, 2015. On that date, he explained that Menendez “has become the first United States senator to be indicted for bribery in over 30 years.” 

Wow. It’s certainly been a busy two and a half years for O’Donnell. It should also be pointed out that Barack Obama, NOT Trump, was president from April of 2015 through January of 2017. Still, the journalist lamely blamed exhaustion: “Trying to keep up with everything the President is generating on a given day is just overwhelming.” 

But rest assured, O’Donnell DEFINITELY wants to cover the story: Talking to Dom Giordano on Philadelphia’s WHPT radio station, he argued, “But were it not were for the special prosecutor’s investigation and the congressional investigations and the Trump presidency, Menendez coverage would be much higher.” 

It’s almost impossible for the coverage to be lower. Since the trial began, the three networks have only allowed two minutes and ten seconds to the corruption case. 

Even though journalists are burying the bribery trial of a sitting United States senator, O’Donnell asserted, “I think there is a serious problem the Democrats have with Bob Menendez that they are allowed to duck because the media is so [preoccupied].” How can something be a serious problem for Democrats if journalists don’t tell Americans about it?  

The MSNBC host closed with some not-so-helpful advice for Republicans: 

This is one of the reasons why you don’t want your president tweeting all the time or at all if you’re a Republican. If you’re a Republican who wants the Bob Menendez trial to get more coverage, one of the things you want is a completely disciplined Republican Party that does not make noise. 

In other words, if absolutely nothing else is happening in the news, reporters may get around to a huge scandal involving a Democrat. 

But don’t count on it. 

A transcript of the Menendez questions is below: 

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Dom Giordano Show (WPHT 1210 in Philadelphia) 
11/13/17                

DOM GIORDANO: I want to ask you a question because I don’t sit there and stop watch your show. Coverage of Roy Moore, obviously this is a major, major issue. But a beef we have is the Menendez coverage. 

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: Yeah. 

GIORDANO: Do you see Menendez — Because there are allegations aside from the bribery charges that are not quite Roy Moore, but in the Dominican and all that, how much do you talk about Mendendez? 

O’DONNELL: I haven’t talked about Menendez since the charges were first brought. I actually talked about him more before the charges were filed because our presidential politics have overwhelmed it. But it is a very serious case. If anyone else — if we had any other president in the White House, if we had any other of the Republicans that were running for president, never mind, have Hillary Clinton as president, the Menendez trial would be a very big item in all of our coverage. But this is what, you know, Donald Trump has done to coverage. Trying to keep up with everything the President is generating on a given day is just overwhelming. And now you have a special prosecutor and that is a more important case than the Menendez case. But were it not were for the special prosecutor’s investigation and the congressional investigations and the Trump presidency, Menendez coverage would be much higher.

He can thank this new political alignment for not getting so much coverage. But, remember, the jury doesn’t care about that. The jury is going to reach a finding having nothing to do with the political coverage. And so, Bob Menendez can take no coverage in the fact that he’s not getting much media coverage of that trial. This is serious stuff. 

GIORDANO: Do you think he ought to step down is what I’m saying. Republicans rightfully are being asked about Roy Moore. I think Democrats, then, would have to be asked repeatedly about Menendez, if he refuses to step down. 

O’DONNELL: Yeah. They are completely different things and completely different situations. There is a difference in asking a sitting senator to step down and asking a candidate to step aside. Easier to ask a candidate to step aside. But, yeah, I think there is a serious problem the Democrats have with Bob Menendez that they are allowed to duck because the media is so —  by the way, this is one of the reasons why you don’t want your president tweeting all the time or at all if you’re a Republican. If you’re a Republican who wants the Bob Menendez trial to get more coverage, one of the things you want is a completely disciplined Republican Party that does not make noise. In other words, it only makes real news, like the movement of a tax bill as opposed to noise. And the Trump White House is making noise all the time and that noise drowns out things that you might want highlighted on the other side, like Menendez. 

This post originally appeared on NewsBusters

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