Conservatives concoct a baseless theory about Mueller tipping off CNN because they don’t understand reporting
Robert Mueller in the Oval Office on July 20, 2012. (Photo by Pete Souza.)

When the FBI went to Roger Stone’s home early in the morning on Friday to arrest him on seven charges in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, CNN was there to capture the ensuing drama for its audience.

This simple fact led to wild and erroneous speculation on conservatives, who seemed to believe the media outlet and Mueller were in cahoots to humiliate Stone.

“How did CNN get this video exclusively of Stone’s arrest? Did somone [sic] at the FBI or Team Mueller tip them off? Just curious,” said Harlan Hill, who serves on President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign advisory board.

“CNN cameras were at the raid of Roger Stone…so FBI obviously tipped off CNN…even if you don’t like Stone, it is curious why Mueller’s office tipped off CNN instead of trying to quietly arrest Stone;quiet arrests are more likely to be safe to the FBI and the person arrested,” said Greta Van Susteren. a conservative commentator.

Glenn Greenwald, the investigative journalist who has become friendly with Fox News in his shared contempt for the Mueller investigation, bolstered Van Susteren’s claim, adding: “It’s possible this tip-off came from FBI rather than Mueller’s office, but either way, nobody should be comfortable having law enforcement engineer with media outlets the filming of someone’s arrest at their home like a reality TV circus. But it’s Roger Stone, so few will care.”

These claims could be immediately discounted because Mueller’s FBI is well-known to be nearly leak-proof, so any indication that his team is working with the media in this way is basically laughable on its face. (Van Susteren later walked back her initial claim.)

But the claims were also belied by the previous day’s reporting. CNN had reported that indictments on Friday were likely because Mueller’s grand jury had been convened for an unusual Thursday session. CNN, a massive media organization with a bureau in Miami, Florida, near where Stone lives, has the resources to stake out the sites of potential newsworthy events, even if they end up not materializing. And Stone has long been believed to be expecting an indictment from Mueller, so monitoring his home was a good bet.

“CNN producer David Shortell and photojournalist Gilbert De La Rosa were outside Stone’s home Friday morning to witness the FBI approaching Stone’s door to arrest him on a seven-count indictment that special counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury approved a day earlier,” CNN explained in a story about how it captured the footage. “They were there staking out Stone because there was just enough evidence lurking in the special counsel’s activity over the past week that CNN’s team covering the Mueller investigation placed a bet that Stone could be arrested as early as Friday.”

Large news organizations with the kinds of resources CNN has do this kind of work all the time — a fact conservatives like Van Susteren and Hill could know if they were more interested in actually understanding the news industry and the Mueller investigation, rather than immediately attacking them.