Anatomy of a Fusion smear (3)

Peter Stone and Greg Gordon of McClatchy News smeared Cleta Mitchell in their story “Lawyer who worked for NRA said to have had concerns about group’s Russia ties.” The gist of the McClatchy story was false. Stone and Gordon have refused to support the smear with a single fact. The smear was planted by Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS behind the veil of anonymity. The story replicates in small the techniques that Simpson used to conjure the Russia hoax and roil the United States over the past two years.

The theme of this series is that it’s Glenn Simpson’s world. We’re all just living in it.

Sharyl Attkisson addressed the media’s use of Fusion earlier this year in her Hill column “For press and public, big risks lurk behind ‘opposition research.'” Attkisson took up a few of her questions with Simpson himself:

I recently posed several queries to Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS. That’s the oppo research company at the center of the surveillance controversy in our intel agencies’ Russia probe. I asked what news organizations Fusion GPS has worked with, what news and media personalities it has researched for what clients, and whether it’s researched any congressional members or staffers. I also wanted to know if, as a former news reporter himself, Simpson thinks news organizations should disclose their relationship with firms like his. As of this writing, I haven’t received a response.

Simpson isn’t talking because anonymity is an essential element of his modus operandi. It enhances the credibility of otherwise nakedly partisan stories.

Attkisson also specifically identifies ProPublica (a supposed good-government organization) as a group that uses information supplied by Fusion GPS:

I also posed queries to one of the respected investigative journalism groups that has used opposition research firms, including Fusion GPS, according to an insider: ProPublica. (I’m a big fan of some of ProPublica’s excellent work.) I asked what their policies are regarding learning and disclosing who the oppo research firm’s paying client is. ProPublica president Richard Tofel wouldn’t confirm that ProPublica has consulted specifically with Fusion GPS and/or Glenn Simpson, and says the news group doesn’t discuss sourcing outside of the stories themselves.

Attkisson raised the questions whether Fusion GPS is now targeting congressmen and congressional staff who are involved and identifies ProPublica as a Fusion conduit. A few weeks after Attkisson published her Hill column ProPublica published this obvious Fusion GPS piece attacking a staffer of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley who has worked on the investigation of matters related to the Mueller probe that bear on Simpson, Steele and Fusion GPS. Because good government!

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