The Russia hoax in review

The Russia collusion hoax represents the biggest scandal in American political history. That’s not the way it is presented in the mainstream media, but they were active participants in the hoax. They are not inclined to look back or to try to understand what they have done. They think they are Woodward and Bernstein, but they are tools who are happy to be of use to their allies in the Democratic Party and the law enforcement/intelligence establishment.

Two essential books investigate the story underlying the Russia collusion hoax. There are other books on the subject, but these two are, as I say, essential.

The first is Andrew McCarthy’s Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency. I wrote about Andy’s book in “All the president’s men, Obama style.”

The second is The Plot Against the President: The True Story of How Congressman Devin Nunes Uncovered the Biggest Political Scandal in U.S. History. I wrote about Lee’s book in “All the president’s men, take 2.”

Having written about these books, I was of course interested in how mainstream media outlets would assess them. Not entirely surprisingly, they have ignored the books. They have maintained what appears to be a discreet silence. Why? Perhaps for the obvious reason that the books belie the collusion hysteria that the mainstream media outlets pushed over the past three years, but I wonder if there isn’t more to it.

McCarthy brings his remarkable professional experience and expertise to his account of the hoax. The theme of his book is pretext. In the concluding paragraph of the book he summarizes the variety of pretexts at work in the collusion hoax: “counterintelligence as a pretext for a criminal investigation in search of a crime; a criminal investigation as a pretext for impeachment without an impeachable offense; an impeachment inquiry as a pretext for rendering the Donald Trump presidency un-reelectable; and all of it designed as a straitjacket around his presidency.”

The pretext continues. My guess is that mainstream media outlets cannot deal with the case McCarthy makes. Thus the silence.

Lee Smith’s book presents a slightly different case. In a principal theme the book demonstrates the complicity of the press in peddling the collusion hoax. In peddling the hoax, the most prominent organs of the mainstream media were the accomplices of the perpetrators. The book cites the relevant stories and relentlessly names names making out the “collusion” of the press with the Clinton campaign and the government — the FBI, the CIA, the Department of Justice — in peddling the collusion hoax as news. The organs of the mainstream media are not going to give attention to Smith’s book by summarizing his case and denying the charge.

Contrast the silent treatment accorded these essential books with books that continue the media war by other means (i.e., in book form), such as James B. Stewart’s Deep State: Trump, the FBI, and the Rule of Law. Jonathan Chait reviewed Stewart’s book for the New York Times Book Review in “Two Candidates, Two Investigations, One Deeply Flawed Agency.”

Chait writes: “The F.B.I. agents investigating Clinton’s use of a personal email account realized early on that they would never have a prosecutable case. While Clinton had violated laws pertaining to the handling of classified material, she had apparently done so out of a combination of technical ineptitude and convenience, and the government had never charged an offender without establishing nefarious motives. As a result, the bureau concluded it didn’t ‘have much on the intent side.'” We get the drift.

Beverly Gage reviewed Stewart’s book for the Washington Post in “Inside Trump’s fight with the FBI: Partisan showdowns and human drama.” Gage writes: “The central character in this story is not Trump but Comey, a ‘man of unimpeachable integrity’ and ‘natural charm,’ in Stewart’s telling, caught in a situation not of his own making — at least at first.”

We also have the new book by Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, perpetrators of the hoax via Fusion GPS, of which they are the founders and principals. Their book is the aptly named Crime in Progress. Subtitle: Inside the Steele Dossier and the GPS Fusion Investigation of Donald Trump. The Washington Post enlisted Quinta Jurecic to review the book in “Explaining the Steele dossier — and how information flows in Washington.” (If you really want to know, Lee Smith has a thing or two to say about the way information flows in Washington.)

Jurecic, it should be noted, is the deputy managing editor of Lawfare, a key outlet for the friends of James Comey. See, e.g., Lawfare editor in chief Benjamin Wittes’s “What James Comey Told Me About Donald Trump.”

Even so, Jurecic notes, “whether or not one approves of Fusion as an enterprise, Simpson and Fritsch’s efforts to justify some of their ­less-savory work begin to drag the story down. In particular, the two are defensive about their hiring by the Russian company Prevezon, which sought their help in fighting a U.S. government lawsuit over alleged fraud and money laundering. It’s difficult to square this with Simpson and Fritsch’s descriptions of the danger they think Russian meddling posed to the American republic.”

Well, yeah. But that’s not all! Julie Kelly has more in the American Greatness column “Fusion GPS Chiefs Spin Hard Before the Horowitz Report.”

These reviews are not entirely worthless, but they are uninformed. They are uninformed by the evidence and argument on offer in McCarthy’s and Smith’s books. The blindness here may be willful; it certainly serves a purpose (or two). And the mainstream media reviews of the Stewart and Fusion GPS books are valuable for the authors of the books. They publicize the existence of the books and declare them of interest in one way or another.

Is it too much to expect engagement of any kind by the organs of the mainstream media with McCarthy’s book, or with Smith’s, let alone intelligent engagement? Apparently so. In a desperate effort to avoid the cliché, I will put it this way: the silence is clamorous. The current dust jacket of McCarthy’s book, for example, quotes praise from three sources: Rush Limbaugh, the heterodox Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass, and (ahem) me.

Looking beyond the organs of the mainstream media for intelligent engagement, however, we can turn to David Goldman’s Asia Times review/essay on Ball of Collusion (cross-posted here at PJ Media), or Julie Kelly’s American Greatness review of The Plot Against the President.

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