23 May 2017

“So There I Was, Helping to Spread Fake News…”

Conspiracy, Trump 9 Comments

Now to be clear, I’m not saying every single moment of footage on cable TV at this point is dictated by 4 bankers in a dark room smoking cigars. I’m just pointing out that what “everybody knows” about Trump/Russia/obstruction etc. rests on a weaker foundation than what everybody knows.

For example, check out Brian Williams talking to the NYT reporter who broke (I think?) the story about Comey’s memo(s) concerning Trump asking him to drop the Flynn investigation. Listen to the whole clip, but pay particular attention around 0:20 when the NYT reporter admits that he actually never saw a memo, and was just relying on the details that someone else had recounted to him.

Keep in mind, it’s not as if we’re talking about the schematics to the new Air Force bomber, or a list of undercover CIA operatives working in Kabul. We’re talking about a memo that Comey supposedly wrote up after Trump asked him to drop the investigation of Flynn. What would be in that memo besides the very thing that is being reported already? If there were sources couldn’t they just be redacted in a photocopy of the memo given to the NYT? Or wouldn’t the NYT just withhold that sensitive stuff, the way the WaPo did with the alleged story about Trump giving sensitive info to the Russians?

Here’s more background information that some of you may have forgotten/never known:

==> This meeting in which Trump allegedly asked Comey to drop the Flynn investigation happened the day after Flynn resigned. So it’s not like Trump was trying to nip things in the bud before the world caught on. Flynn was already disgraced and would go down in history (fairly or unfairly) as a Russian interloper.

==> At the time, Comey was the U.S. attorney who prosecuted Martha Stewart.

As always: I DO NOT KNOW IF TRUMP OR HIS INNER CIRCLE DID ANYTHING UNUSUALLY DIRTY FOR A PRESIDENTIAL TEAM. I am simply pointing out that people are stating certain things as public fact when we actually can’t be sure of that yet.

9 Responses to ““So There I Was, Helping to Spread Fake News…””

  1. Rory says:

    I’m very bearish on Trump’s impeachment chances (wishful thinking on the part of his opponents, seems to me), but when I heard the memo story on NPR the other morning I was actually surprised – the press may actually have something on him. However it quickly became apparent that in actuality it was just another instance of inflated accusations against this administration. To be clear, I’m not saying there hasn’t been any wrongdoing, but as much as they try to convince me otherwise the press’ role in actually doing anything about it has been effectively nothing when their stories apparently live and die on what they overheard in the lobby mensroom in the D.C. Homewood Suites.

    I can honestly say that while I like to stay informed, this stuff is really only causing me to tune out Trump-related reporting. I just read/listen 10 seconds in until the part about how the source is anonymous or just another news outlet and skip it. Saves me the heartache.

  2. Craw says:

    Good post.

    Comey is alive, and he has a copy of his memo. There is no legitimate reason to rely on third hand partial accounts rather than asking the man, and looking at his memo. There are only illegitimate reasons,

    When I was young people seemed to understand you don’t rely on innuendo and rumor to make decisions. Now that makes up most of the news, most of what politics is about.

  3. Stephen Dedalus says:

    In fact, what Trump is supposed to have said to Comey is, “I hope you can drop this.”

    Tremendous pressure, hey?

  4. Tel says:


    Good choice of metric.

    How many of those Project Veritas videos ended up leading to prosecution?

  5. Benjamin Cole says:

    I agree with this post. Here is what I wrote on The Money Illusion a couple days back”

    Trump may be a lulu, but we are seeing all the same methods used against Trump that were deployed against “lefties” and others in the commie witch-hunt days.

    Anonymous sources who say things treated reverently by the media, information that is damning but has to be kept secret for national security reasons, endless investigations, innuendo and so on.

    Here is a Reuters story in part:

    “Michael Flynn and other advisers to Donald Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race, current and former U.S. officials familiar with the exchanges told Reuters.

    The previously undisclosed interactions form part of the record now being reviewed by FBI and congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

    Six of the previously undisclosed contacts described to Reuters were phone calls between Sergei Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, and Trump advisers, including Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, three current and former officials said.

    Conversations between Flynn and Kislyak accelerated after the Nov. 8 vote as the two discussed establishing a back channel for communication between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that could bypass the U.S. national security bureaucracy, which both sides considered hostile to improved relations, four current U.S. officials said.

    In January, the Trump White House initially denied any contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign. The White House and advisers to the campaign have since confirmed four meetings between Kislyak and Trump advisers during that time.

    The people who described the contacts to Reuters said they had seen no evidence of wrongdoing or collusion between the campaign and Russia in the communications reviewed so far.”


    I suppose I give Reuters credit for that last exculpatory sentence (there is more to the story, it is the last sentence I quote), but one could have written the story along the lines of,

    “There was scant contact between the Trump campaign and Russians—less than three times a month on average—and the limited contacts were determined to be innocuous.”

    Think about it.

    I say “scant contact,” as a national campaign must generate thousands of phone calls and emails, perhaps every day, and certainly weekly.

    And how about the line in the lead sentence “others with Kremlin ties”?

    “Kremlin ties”? Egads! Is that Americans who have done business in Russia, or any academic who taught in Russia in the last 20 years?

    Is that a campaign phone call to Carter Page, who met with a Russian operative in 2013, except Page did not know he was a Russian operative? Page appears to be a mid-level oil-deals guy (and former U.S. Navy man) who likes Russia and wants to make money. Boris Badinoff?

    I hope this guy Robert Mueller is as fair and straight-shooting and not a dramatic, as everyone says.

    If Trump is a Russian stooge, I hope he is exposed. If not, I hope Mueller says so clearly.

    But I say this: If you are old enough, you have seen these tactics before. This is all out of the old anti-commie playbook, and it was dirty then and dirty now.

    Look, you don’t like Trump, that is fine. He is not likable.

    But if they can railroad Trump this way, then they can railroad anybody else too.


    And today we have another Niagara of similar coverage of former CIA chief Brennan…but at bottom, once more, “there is no there there” but a call for more investigation.

    Look, I am a citizen, a taxpayer, and I have heard endless hints from official sources my President is a Russian stooge.

    Am I not entitled to a clear rendition of the facts, and in public?

    If sources have to be protected, then fine, remove them from harm’s way and proceed. Certainly, protecting methods at this point is secondary. If some methods are exposed, who cares?

    Or, are we to remove a US president under cloak of “national security”?

  6. Darien says:

    I am compelled to agree; the low quality of what passes for “news” these days is genuinely astonishing. It’s not just the “important if true” anonymously-sourced reports about corruption, either; witness the po-faced reportage about how many scoops of ice cream the president has with his pie. You can almost hear the desperation as these hacks attempt to attract the Bernie kids back to the DNC mainstream. “Look! Look! Inequality! This guy had more ice cream than anybody else! We’re against that too!” Or the brouhaha about Mrs. Trump not wanting to hold her husband’s hand in Tel Aviv. As a married man who isn’t the president of a single thing, I gots ta be honest with you: there have been days in which the wife and I have had to appear together in public even though we’re mad at each other and don’t want to. Sometimes some of that snippiness shows through. Is it a good thing? No. Is it breaking, front-page news? Not usually.

  7. Yancey Ward says:

    In this day and age where it is almost literally true that everyone is carrying a high resolution camera in his pocket, there is no excuse for not demanding a photograph of documentation a source is reading to you over a phone as part of a political leak.

    I have noted this repeatedly over the last several years- journalistic scoops have stopped including photographs and things like pdf.s and my theory is that it all goes back to a certain story that broke in September of 2004 which got torpedoed and sank when people actually examined the physical evidence in question. Since then, journalists have been very, very leery of allowing such evidence to be published along with their stories about that evidence.

  8. Capt. J Parker says:

    I’m Shocked, Shocked I tell you. No, I’m not shocked that the NY Times and other media outlets are reporting on the contents of a memo they have not seen. I’m shocked that it is none other than Brian William’s who is pointing out the Times minimal level of fact checking. Guess he must feel if he can’t get away with a little embellishment then no one else is going to get away with it either.

  9. Gabriel says:

    “Listen to the whole clip, but pay particular attention around 0:20 when the NYT reporter admits that he actually never saw a memo, and was just relying on the details that someone else had recounted to him.”

    why does that matter? isnt a human source a valid source of information?

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