This week in the media, pundits and anchors repeated a claim by Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff that the Nunes memo “cherry-picked” information.
During a CNN interview on Feb. 2, Schiff, who is the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, asserted that the Nunes memo “cherry-picked” information about the FISA warrant the FBI obtained to spy on Carter Page.
“What it ends up delivering is criticism of a single FISA application involving Carter Page and its renewals that cherry-picks information,” Schiff said to anchor Wolf Blitzer.
The media quickly took note, repeating the claim on CNN and MSNBC without attribution to Schiff or Democrats in general. They even used the exact same wording, insisting that the memo was “cherry-picked,” despite having little means to prove that Schiff’s assertion was even true.
Without access to all of the information that House Intel has access to, the media relied on a simple talking point from a Democrat to drive the narrative surrounding the memo.
Just one day after Schiff’s interview with Blitzer, the phrase “cherry-picked” popped up on CNN’s “New Day.”
“The idea that the judge didn’t know that this was from opposition research memo…again, this is cherry-picked information that we’re looking at,” said Walter Schaub, the former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.
Later in the afternoon, on “CNN’s Newsroom with Fredericka Whitfield,” the phrase appeared again, this time spoken by the show’s anchor.
“That’s the inference, but likely the four judges needed a whole lot of detail, and this memo kind of pairs it all down, and that’s why critics say it’s partisan because Nunes just kind of — the Chairman of the House Intelligence, Devin Nunes, just cherry-picked certain details and presented this memo and everyone is just to see it and extrapolate,” Whitfield said.
CNN political commentator David Swerdlick agreed, arguing, “even though from a law enforcement perspective you’re looking and saying okay, look, there is certain classified information that can’t come out, there is a problem with having memos that boil things down to a few cherry-picked facts.”
“There shouldn’t be a memo that is cherry-picked just from the Republicans,” he added.
Ruth Marcus with The Washington Post claimed during an MSNBC appearance on Feb. 3 that it is “really important for people to know” that FISA applications “are thick documents” and that the Republicans “cherry-pick[ed]” in the Nunes memo.
“As we already know, the memo is said to be the product of a cherry-picked intelligence drafted by staffers to Congressman Devin Nunes of the House Intelligence Committee,” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said during the same program.
MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” flagrantly used the phrase “cherry-pick” several times during a conversation about the memo on Feb. 5.
“The problem is, that everybody has said, that the underlying documentation is critically important and when you put together a very short memo that very selectively cherry-picks information to make one’s case, it’s hard for the American people to understand what the FBI presented,” cohost Joe Scarborough said.
CIA analyst John Brennan agreed, stating, “Somebody cherry-picks one part of what was presented to the judge.”