Fox, meet the henhouse.
There are very few voices people can trust in the political frenzy that is RussiaGate. Depending on who you talk to, the narratives go:
- The Russian government “hacked the [2016 presidential] election” in service of somehow electing President Donald J. Trump illegally.
- The Russians somehow “meddled” or “influenced” that same election, spreading propaganda to either Wikileaks or through “fake news on social media” to somehow rally the American people to elect Trump (who colluded with them in some unspecific regard).
- The Russians may have financial dealings with the 45th President.
- The Russians and Trump might just be friendly, and there’s no fire amid the smoke.
Partisan voices run amok here, airing theory, assumptions and far-too-early conclusions on social media to the nightly prime time news, without a clear answer to give unbiased reporting. That said, it should go without saying that the “unbiased” mainstream media shouldn’t hire known CIA-linked national security reporters to fact check and assert the claims of the CIA on television.
That national security reporter, formerly of the Los Angeles Times and now an MSNBC contributor, goes by the name of Ken Dilanian. Why is Mr. Dilanian such a curious man to cover CIA-based claims? He just happens to be the man outlets like The Intercept discovered was “routinely submitting drafts and detailed summaries of his stories to CIA press handlers prior to publication,” according to the documents they obtained as far back as 2014.
“I’m working on a story about congressional oversight of drone strikes that can present a good opportunity for you guys,” one email the reporter sent to a CIA press officer reads, pitching that the story would be “reassuring to the public” and “correct misinformation” on cases of collateral damage:
The Intercept then found a series of “back-and-forth emails” regarding CIA operations in Yemen, where Mr. Dilanian sent a full draft of an unpublished report, paired with an oh-so-curious subject line “does this look better?” and a direct quote that perfectly describes what it’s like to work with the CIA: “You wouldn’t put out disinformation on this, would you?”:
Since this scandal broke, Dilanian left The Los Angeles Times to work for The Associated Press and offer national security reporting for outlets like MSNBC, which just used him as a pundit to discuss the recent journalistic blunders in regards to the RussiaGate conspiracy (that he soon himself propagated).
Last week, ABC News suspended reporter Brian Ross after a report suggesting former Trump national security advisor Mike Flynn had agreed to testify the president ordered him to reach out to the Russian government during the presidential campaign.
If true, this would have given serious legitimacy to the narrative that Trump “colluded” with the Russian government in some capacity for some political reason, leaving the president in serious legal jeopardy.… only Ross got the names and dates wrong, which are bloody crucial factors.
After this initial report, ABC was forced to issue this fundamental correction: Flynn planned to testify that it was Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who ordered him to reach out to representatives of the Russian government during Trump’s transition phase as president-elect. This changes the narrative of Trump committing corruption, even treason, to Trump conducting diplomatic relations. It’s a story breaking difference if there ever was one.
Then, like the Wile E. Coyote of political fact-checking, it was Jeff Zucker’s turn (of lead outlet CNN, the Most Trusted Name in News™) to bungle another “bombshell” report on supposed collusion between the Trump team and Wikileaks.
In a Friday morning “exclusive” report, CNN originally reported on an email sent to Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign staff, from journalists working at Wikileaks, allowing them to view emails from either the DNC or campaign manager John Podesta (which one it was is unclear).
The key part of their report was the Wikileaks emails were said to be dated September 4th — ten days before Wikileaks released the emails on their database for the media and public to see.
When this claim was looked into, with the most basic of journalistic ethics by The Washington Post, it was revealed the email was actually dated September 14th, the exact day the emails went public.
This changes the story completely from Wikileaks giving the campaign aid, to Wikileaks merely snapping their fingers to get the dogs to promote their findings. Forcing CNN to issue written and televised retractions:
Before this news-destroying retraction, MSNBC was quick to jump on the story with the oh so wonderful analysis from reporter Ken Dilanian.
Where CNN can plead ignorance, The Washington Post can plead facts first (which is a welcome change) and the president can plead “fake news,” it was Dilanian who we can safely see pleading lies. Why? The reason MSNBC had the man on was he had independently “confirmed” the false CNN report from “two sources with direct knowledge of this,” which is objectively untrue as shown below:
“Remember, the Russians had hacked the Democrats and handed this stuff over to Wikileaks,” the reporter then claimed as fact, without any hint of skepticism. On TrigTent, we’ve delved into the validity of whether the emails were “hacked,” as agencies like the CIA have been trying to say, or whether they were “leaked.” The evidence we’ve reported seems to point to the latter.
Former NSA members turned investigators told The Nation that 1,976 megabytes of DNC email data was downloaded from the DNC servers locally on July 5, 2016. They say this information was downloaded with either “a memory key or some other portable storage device,” with the download taking 87 seconds — 22.7 megabytes per second — “a speed that far exceeds an internet capability for a remote hack” former Salon columnist Patrick Lawrence explained. This would immediately throw the validity of it factually being a “hack” into question.
It’s stunning that MSNBC would allow such an assumption to slip by as fact. Let alone from a guy who we know parrots CIA talking points, which just so happens to look like the case this time.
The public and journalists should expect the transparency minimum proposed by The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald: these networks — from ABC, CNN to MSNBC — should damn well be honest in how such journalistic malpractice and false information was passed in such a short amount of time, who these “multiple sources” are, their motivations and why they still have jobs, and whether these outlets can be trusted to be the watchdogs and “trusted names in news” they’re presented as. All we have now is more strength given to Trump’s dreaded narrative of “Fake News.”