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Saturday, March 23, 2019

Mueller found nothing. I knew it

Bungling Bob Mueller found no Russian collusion or evidence of anything to indict, impeach, or otherwise remove Donald John Trump from his constitutionally divined office as president.

I wrote my reaction to this outcome two years ago, long before Mueller was actually appointed to head this witch hunt. In March 2017, I began writing in real time "Fake News Follies of 2017."

Chapter 8, "Urine Trouble, CNN," covered the Russian dossier. I knew immediately it was as fake as Hillary's laugh because it said Donald Trump hired hookers to pee in a bed the Obamas slept in.

And so I wrote the whole thing off literally. I didn't save the first draft or the next 10, but here is the final product:

“Among cable news network viewers who watch Fox News most often, 50 percent say they trust the political news they are getting. That compares to 43 percent of MSNBC viewers and just 33 percent who tune in mostly to CNN,” Rasmussen reported.

After the election, CNN ramped up its anti-Trump campaign.

At Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, researchers graded television news coverage and that of the New York Times and the Washington Post of the first 100 days of the Trump presidency.

“Assessing the tone of news coverage, the Harvard researchers found that CNN’s Trump coverage was 93 percent negative, and seven percent positive. The researchers found the same numbers for NBC,” Byron York of the Washington Examiner reported.

A study by Pew Research Center confirmed this.

“Compared with the first 60 days of the Clinton, Bush and Obama presidencies, news outlets’ evaluations of Trump’s start in office were far more negative and less positive. About six-in-ten news stories about Trump’s first 60 days (62 percent) carried an overall negative assessment of his words or actions. That is about three times more negative than for Obama (20 percent) and roughly twice that of Bush and Clinton (28 percent each),” the center reported.

Not since Abraham Lincoln had an incoming president faced such hostility.

The only news outlet studied that was fair and balanced was Fox News at 52 percent negative. The gap between CNN and Fox News was as wide as the Grand Canyon. Someone was peddling Fake News, and it was not the one at 52 percent negative, 48 percent positive.

Trump scheduled his first press conference in 167 days for January 11, 2017.

The night before the press conference, CNN reported, “Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him,” under a quadruple byline that included Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein, anchor Jake Tapper, and reporters Evan Perez and Jim Sciutto.

“The allegations were presented in a two-page synopsis that was appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The allegations came, in part, from memos compiled by a former British intelligence operative, whose past work US intelligence officials consider credible. The FBI is investigating the credibility and accuracy of these allegations, which are based primarily on information from Russian sources, but has not confirmed many essential details in the memos about Mr. Trump,” CNN reported.

“The classified briefings last week were presented by four of the senior-most US intelligence chiefs—Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers.”

Fake News. This dossier was not intelligence gathering by security officials, but rather political opposition research. The Democratic Party paid Fusion GPS to prepare the dossier, which the Obama administration then treated as real intelligence.

“CNN has reviewed a 35-page compilation of the memos, from which the two-page synopsis was drawn. The memos have since been published by BuzzFeed. The memos originated as opposition research, first commissioned by anti-Trump Republicans, and later by Democrats,” CNN reported.

“At this point, CNN is not reporting on details of the memos, as it has not independently corroborated the specific allegations. But, in preparing this story, CNN has spoken to multiple high-ranking intelligence, administration, congressional and law enforcement officials, as well as foreign officials and others in the private sector with direct knowledge of the memos.”

Bernstein and company dodged CNN’s journalistic standards by referring readers to BuzzFeed, which published the fabrications. Topping the list was a story that Trump hired hookers to urinate on a bed Obama had slept in. Few reporters believed the story, but CNN’s story allowed late-night hosts to ridicule the president.

CNN never apologized for the dossier story. Bernstein did not believe President Trump deserved fair or impartial coverage.

“We have never been in a malignant presidency like this before. It calls on our leaders, it calls on our journalists to do a different kind of reporting, a different kind of dealing with this presidency and the president,” Bernstein said on CNN on June 30.

After Trump secured the GOP nomination, the Clinton campaign paid Fusion GPS to compile this dossier, New York magazine reported on January 10.

“That investment yielded 35 pages of memos (which have now been published by BuzzFeed) and two explosive allegations:

“1. Russian operatives claim to be in possession of compromising personal and financial information about America’s president-elect. (The former ‘information’ allegedly includes a videotape of Trump watching several Russian sex workers urinate on the bed the Obamas slept in at the Ritz Carlton in Moscow.)”

Fusion GPS had tried to sell the dossier stories to reporters for at least six months. They declined the unverified story. Now they cheered. By crediting CNN, they could now report on a story they knew to be fake.

“The Sheer Perfection of Donald Trump’s Golden Shower,” read the headline in New York magazine over a January 11 column by Maureen O’Connor.

“Last night I — and perhaps you too — encountered a wabi-sabi rumor. I didn’t think the rumor was true, but it was so deliciously satisfying that I could not look away. It was masterpiece of evocative specificity, a glorious symphony of sordid particulars. I couldn’t believe it, nor could I disbelieve it. More accurately: I didn’t care if I believed it. It was wabi-sabi, perfectly imperfect, wildly lopsided, and yet, somehow, balanced enough to stand. It was the tale of Donald Trump’s Russian prostitute pee party,” O’Connor wrote.

She revealed an unstated truth. Many political reporters and columnists in Washington and Manhattan no longer cared about the truth, nor did they pay any respect to the office of the president or the people who elected Trump. The election stung these journalists to the point where they kicked themselves for not stopping Trump by reporting outlandish tales of peeing prostitutes and the like.
Now that he was president, Fake News was in. Standards were out.

However, Mollie Hemingway of the Federalist saw the story as proof that the whole Russian conspiracy theory was kooky.

“This is the story that really got the Russia collusion conspiracy going. The unlikely heroes of this story are the folks at BuzzFeed, who published the actual dossier almost immediately after CNN’s story went live,” Hemingway wrote on June 29.

“At first, it broke the Internet, as journalists highlighted the more explosive claims in the dossier, such as that the compromising information on the president included information that he paid Russian prostitutes to urinate on a bed that the Obamas slept in at the Moscow Ritz.

“But publishing the dossier revealed to everyone how unbelievably stupid and shoddy it was. It was a complete joke. It didn’t make Trump look bad, it made the intelligence chiefs who claimed to be taking it seriously look like a bunch of amateurs.”

The whizzing hookers was just one of many red flags that should have warned CNN to back off. The Russian dossier had other easily discredited claims.

“The smears boil down to the seemingly ludicrous claim that, going back five years, the Russians have been working a Machiavellian plot to make Trump their puppet president. Along the way, in order to control him, the Russians have gathered embarrassing information about the President-elect. Moreover, throughout the 2016 campaign, Trump operatives are said to have met secretly with the Russians to plot, scheme, and twist mustaches,” John C. Nolte wrote in the Daily Wire on January 11.

“Already, according to the leftwing Atlantic, this portion of the story has collapsed. One of the charges involves Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

“This unsubstantiated dossier claims that Cohen is supposed to have been Trump’s primary contact with the Russians. More specifically, the document claims Cohen met with Putin operatives in Prague on a specific date in August. Rosie Gray (a former BuzzFeed staffer who recently resigned — along with a number of others) reports in the Atlantic that, during the date in question, a source confirmed Cohen was with his son at USC in Los Angeles.”

Well, maybe the dossier dudes got their dates wrong.

“I’ve never been to Prague and I’ve never been to Russia,” Michael Cohen, Trump’s attorney, said on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News.

The false reports “affected my family, it affected my wife, my in-laws, my children, so that’s not OK. I believe CNN and BuzzFeed and others owe them a serious apology,” Cohen said.

But Fake News had consequences for CNN. At his press conference, the day after the dossier story appeared, Trump called CNN Fake News.

ACOSTA: “Since you’re attacking our organization, can you give us a question?”

TRUMP: “Not you.”

ACOSTA: “Can you give us a chance?”

TRUMP: “Your organization is terrible.”

ACOSTA: “You’re attacking us, can you give us a question?”

TRUMP: “Quiet.”

ACOSTA: “Mr. President-elect, can you say—”

TRUMP: “Don’t be rude.”

He later addressed the fairy tale about urinating hookers.

“Does anyone really believe that story? I’m also very much of a germaphobe, by the way, believe me,” he said.

Trump pointed out that in his extensive travels to do business in foreign nations, he had learned to take precautions to avoid being blackmailed.

“When I leave our country, I’m a very high-profile person, would you say? I am extremely careful. I’m surrounded by bodyguards. I’m surrounded by people. And I always tell them anywhere, but I always tell them, if I’m leaving this country, be very careful, because in your hotel rooms and no matter where you go, you’re going to probably have cameras,” Trump said.

After the conference, Mediaite reported, “CNN released a statement shortly after the Trump press conference highlighting that its reporting was ‘vastly different’ than BuzzFeed’s decision to publish the dossier and the ‘Trump team knows this.’”

But CNN had told readers and viewers about the BuzzFeed story, even though CNN could not verify the details to publish the dossier that BuzzFeed reported. Trump caught CNN with its standards down, and the network blamed BuzzFeed.

Fifteen minutes later, Mediaite updated its post, reporting, “BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith reacted to CNN’s statement, saying that he wasn’t going to ‘divide media against each other.’”

CNN had a lot of gall in demanding that Trump allow Acosta to defend his company in the form of a question, because in its original 977-word report on the dossier, CNN had not sought comment from Trump or his spokesmen.

However, Timothy Stanley, a historian with the Daily Telegraph in London, posted a column on CNN’s website: “How did President-elect Trump handle press conference? Nailed it.”

“We actually learned a lot. Trump’s two legislative priorities are building the wall and repealing and replacing Obamacare. What he’ll replace Obamacare with remains a mystery—but at least we know what’s coming. Trump also said that he’ll name his Supreme Court nominee within two weeks of his inauguration,” Stanley wrote.

“In addition, he compared the behavior of some within the intelligence community to Nazis, and suggested that the very mention of Senator Lindsey Graham makes him laugh. He even pledged to sack his sons should they underperform while running his businesses. And, perhaps most importantly of all, he signaled that no amount of speculation on his relationship with Vladimir Putin will shift his position towards Russia. Russia was probably guilty of hacking, he concluded, but that will cease once Trump is in charge.”

A week later came the New York magazine interview of Zucker.

SHERMAN: “After Trump attacked CNN for reporting on the intelligence chiefs’ briefing on the Russian dossier, you issued a strongly worded statement defending your story. What made CNN decide to publish reporting on the existence of the dossier?”

ZUCKER: “I actually think this was a pretty easy call in terms of its news value. The fact is, the top four intelligence chiefs of the United States decided to include in their briefing to the president and president-elect a two-page summary of allegations involving the president-elect. That is newsworthy by any definition.”

SHERMAN: “Even if the allegations themselves weren’t verified?”

ZUCKER: “We didn’t pass judgment on the allegations. We reported we had not been able to corroborate them. But the news was that the two most powerful people in the world had been briefed on the existence of these allegations.”

Not really. CNN did not know if intelligence officials briefed Trump or just added the two-page memo to the stack of papers they handed him after the briefing.

Finally, Zucker said, “It’s just unfortunate that the most powerful person in the world is trying to delegitimize journalism and an organization that plays such a vital role in our democracy. I think he’s entitled to his opinion, but it’s — to use one of his favorite words — sad.”

When it came to delegitimizing CNN, Zucker did not need Trump’s help. His staff did it to themselves. CNN was now the least-trusted name in news.

Among its viewers, not among its colleagues. Rather than chastise a news organization that went rogue, the press closed ranks.

“CNN’s exclusive reporting on the Russian matter was separate and distinctly different from the document dump executed by an online news property,” Fox News anchor Shep Smith said.

“Though we at Fox News cannot confirm CNN’s report, it is our observation that its correspondents follow journalistic standards and that neither they nor any other journalists should be subjected to belittling or delegitimizing by the President-elect of the United States.”

Like CNN, Smith vouched for a report that he could not verify. There was a lot of that going on in the press corps, which gave liberals an incentive to make up Fake News, because the press would just pass it along as if it were real.

From across the pond, British TV presenter Piers Morgan — and former CNN host — blistered the American media for going with the unsubstantiated story.

“BuzzFeed, the website part-owned by NBC that broke ranks and published it last night, admits it has no evidence to prove it’s true, has not been able to independently verify it, and may never be able to verify it,” Morgan wrote in the Daily Mail.

“‘BuzzFeed News is publishing the full document so that Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the US government,’ it stated.

“Its editor Ben Smith added: ‘There is serious reason to doubt the allegations.’

“Sorry?

“So, let me get this absolutely straight: they haven’t got a Scooby-Doo if this devastatingly embarrassing hookers-and-urination claim is true or not?

“Nor are they prepared to investigate it further to try to verify it before publication?

“Instead, BuzzFeed’s just chose to fling it all into the public domain like a farmer depositing a large truckload of excrement into a field of ravenous pigs, so we can all wallow in Trump’s humiliation — even if he never actually did any of it.”

The frenzy to get Trump was the theme of the American press in 2017.

“A free press is the very cornerstone of any democracy,” Morgan wrote.

“If Fake News goes mainstream like this, without any checks and balances, then the pivotal place of the free press in American culture will be over, toast, defunct, kaput.”

Maybe that was the plan.

While the press went wild with crazy stories from a Russian dossier, news organizations largely ignored Bill Clinton’s speech in Moscow on June 29, 2010.

“Bill Clinton keynoted a seminar staged by Renaissance Capital in Moscow, a reputedly Kremlin-controlled investment bank that promoted this transaction. Renaissance Capital paid Clinton $500,000 for his one-hour speech,” Deroy Murdock reported in the National Review on April 7.

The transaction in question was the Uranium One deal that gave Russian oligarchs control of one-fifth of the US production of uranium, through a third party in Toronto. As secretary of state, Clinton’s wife was one of nine agency officials who had to sign off on the deal. Russians also donated millions to the family’s foundation in addition to paying President Clinton a half-million dollars for a speech.

The press was not interested in any Democratic scandal. It was after Trump.

But just as there were no urinating hookers, there was no untoward connection between Putin and Trump. In subsequent testimony before Congress, Clapper, Comey, Brennan, and Rogers all testified under oath that there was no credible evidence of any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government despite months of searching by the Obama administration.

“Following this testimony, it’s clear that nothing has changed. Senior Obama intelligence officials have gone on record to confirm that there’s no evidence of a Trump-Russia collusion,” Sean Spicer, Trump’s spokesman, told reporters after Comey and Rogers testified on March 20.

But, reporters hung onto the Russian dossier like an onion thrown to a poor man. They needed an excuse for missing an election in which every major anchor not on Fox News (and many of those too) had rooted for Clinton. Her defeat rebuked them as well. The Obama administration gave it legitimacy in January, even though none of it was true.

“Unable to verify the dossier, those reporters wouldn’t have reported on Steele's allegations by themselves. (Well, everyone except Mother Jones’ David Corn, who was also briefed by Steele at Fusion GPS’s direction and in October 2016 reported a ‘former Western intelligence officer’ had ‘provided the [FBI] with memos’ on the Trump-Russia matter),” Byron York of the Washington Examiner wrote on November 6.

The FBI could not verify it either because the dossier was bogus. But Comey was sharp. He slipped a two-page memo on the dossier into a pile of papers given to Trump at an intelligence briefing. He then informed CNN.

“As it turned out, the fact that Comey told Trump about the dossier gave the media the hook it needed to report on the document. Unable to verify the dossier, none, other than Corn, had reported its existence. But the fact that the head of the FBI informed the president-elect about the dossier — that was news. And that was indeed the hook the media used to report the existence of the dossier. From there, it was just a short hop to BuzzFeed publishing the dossier itself. Comey’s action moved things along,” York wrote.

Fifty years earlier, in 1967, British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge wrote, “In the past if someone was famous or notorious, it was for something — as a writer or an actor or a criminal; for some talent or distinction or abomination. Today one is famous for being famous. People who come up to one in the street or in public places to claim recognition nearly always say: ‘I’ve seen you on the telly!’”

The Russian dossier was scandalous for being scandalous. The thirty-five memos might as well be grocery lists for all the press cared. They had their scandal that proved once and for all that Trump’s presidency was illegitimate.

****

The book is available in paperback and Kindle. I think it held up well — unlike the media's reputation.

16 comments:

  1. 37 paragraphs.

    7 single sentences.

    57? qoutes of various pieces of shit I might have miscounted, so sue me.


    Lazy Rain Man

    Gonna take nap before Wopner!!!!!


    Definitely, Definitely, Definitely.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Should we send the police to your ip address to do a welfare check?

      Delete
    2. The inner poopsie revealed.

      "we"

      "send police"

      "4 your welfare"


      How nazi ish of thee.


      Lazy Rain Man says:

      Mind

      Your

      Own

      Business.


      Or Judge Wopner, Judge Judy AND the lovely Judge Milian will be the judge of it.

      Delete
    3. Come on, at least troll with words that make sense.

      Delete
  2. You called it as did most thinking people.
    Mueller is now the one in trouble this AM
    Schiffy is calling Mueller in and threatening a subpoena -Kind of like Wile E. Coyote subpoenaing the CEO of Acme products.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "They needed an excuse for missing an election...Her defeat rebuked them as well." 

    Game Set Match

    ReplyDelete
  4. Actually Mueller did find something - something rather surprising. After crawling through every sewer and sniffing under ever toilet seat he could find, he found nothing at all - meaning that DJT is the cleanest President we've had since at least Rutherford Hayes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't that amazing? A multibillionaire in one of the toughest, most competitive businesses (real estate development) started in the toughest US city (if I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere) has developments throughout the world. The entire media complex, the DOJ, FBI, CIA, DNC, Clinton Foundation, establishment and ambassador corps all looked under every rock. Nothing.

      It gives me hope that in this time where the country is once again poised on the threshold of self-destruction, God has a plan and a man to pull us back from the brink.

      Delete
    2. EXCELLENT Point/s, Poopsie… :)

      Delete
  5. Once you become aware you can spot the media falsehoods everywhere. It seems they're working an angle on virtually everything they report. The distortions and lies of commission or omission are more and more obvious to me and I point them out to others. The only truths they publish are yesterdays scores in the Sports section.

    ReplyDelete
  6. In light of the horrible crimes the left accused Trump of, in light of the dozens of crimes Clinton, Obama admin officials and deep state actively engaged in, Trump's dalliances where he paid women to go away are so minor as to be laughable.

    Another unintended consequence of Trumpenfreude

    ReplyDelete
  7. As we see already, the media/Democrats are saying that the President will redact portions of the Mueller Report that they say they need to see. I tweeted the President that when the executive branch reviews the report, Senator Manchin be included since he seems to be a fair Democratic politician.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I remember correctly, President Trump said he would release it without redaction.
      That is what he should offer to do, then sit back and see who screams. Who knows, people might get the impression there was something foul in Nancy P Lousy's face cream.

      Delete
    2. The SC report is in Barr's hands. There are federal regs which govern the report. Pretty sure Barr will be squeaky clean in revealing the contents of the report. I'm guessing there will be a summary report and if Schiff wants to see the full report he'll have to come to Barr and read it in a confidential setting. If he leaks, he is charged with a crime.

      Delete
  8. I'm pretty sure Comey was abusing his power. Among other crimes. When will he be indicted?
    Along with the other deep state liars?

    And, illegal leaking to the press.

    The public should know what the laws are which are supposed to protect the innocent from these kinds of attacks, and such laws should be enforced, starting with investigations and early indictments.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think the tell was weeks ago when Pelosi said impeachment was off the table and then Comey's BS old saying he didn't care what happened to Trump once the Mueller report was released. The leakers told them to close up shop that there was nothing they could use on Trump. There aren't coincidences in Wash DC

    ReplyDelete