Fake news: A case study

Over the weekend I noted the Wall Street Journal editorial decrying the wrong done to Cleta Mitchell in connection with the Russia investigation(s). Cleta is the prominent Foley & Lardner partner and campaign finance expert. The Journal editorial is “Anatomy of a Fusion smear” (truncated but accessible here on Outline). It appears that the Fusion smear was planted in his accustomed style by Glenn Simpson with a few of his friends at McClatchy.

Simpson’s friends at McClatchy are reporters Peter Stone and Greg Gordon. In their March 15 article “Lawyer who worked for NRA said to have had concerns about group’s Russia ties,” they disseminated a fraudulent story about Cleta in Simpson’s continuing campaign to undermine the 2016 election.

In an invaluable Wall Street Journal column published earlier this year — I’ll return to it in my next post on this matter — Kim Strassel briefly related Cleta’s response to the McClatchy story: “Ms. Mitchell tells me she told McClatchy before publication that this was false, that she has spoken to no one about the NRA’s actions in 2016, and that she believes the entire NRA-Russia story line is preposterous. She asked the reporters to explain to whom she supposedly said this, when and in what context. They couldn’t, but ran the story anyway.” She also quoted Cleta’s denunciation of the McClatchy story as “the quintessential definition of fake news.”

Following this weekend’s Wall Street Journal editorial, I reached out to Cleta to ask if she had anything to add. Indeed, she did. I posted her message to me here. I posted her letter to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence related to the Fusion smear in “Cleta Mitchell: Glenn Simpson is a liar.”

Cleta also forwarded eight PDFs conveying her email correspondence with Stone and Gordon before and after the publication of their March 15 story. The emails run from March 14 to March 18. Cleta forwarded them to me with this message:

Here are the emails between me and the idiot reporters at McClatchy. Peter Stone and Greg Gordon — they were the mouthpiece for the leaks from the FBI about the NRA and the Glenn Simpson lies about me, the NRA, etc. — plus, they were the shills for the Adam Schiff lies from the House Democrats on Intelligence committee. It is a sordid situation — the FBI takes lies from Glenn Simpson, and instead of prosecuting him, they do his bidding and the whole cabal leaks to McClatchy — it is despicable.

I copied and pasted the eight PDFs into one document and uploaded the document to Scribd (embedded below). After pasting them into a separate document I edited the messages to remove stray symbols, email addresses and telephone numbers. I separated the messages by date. I silently corrected a spelling or two but did not otherwise intentionally make any other changes to the messages. Please note that the March 14 emails run in reverse chronological order.

I think that the emails in total make for a remarkable document. Together with the McClatchy story what we have here is a case study in what may rightly be called fake news. It is a case study that both replays and illuminates the Russia hoax in small.

Cleta Mitchell-McClatchy Email Correspondence – Google Docs by Scott Johnson on Scribd

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