The mainstream media are beginning to crawl backwards like sand crabs from the Steele Dossier. Linking to Paul Farhi’s Washington Post story on its confrontation with its own reporting, Sara Fischer highlights the media’s “epic fail.” (Syntax is apparently part of the “fail.”) Becket Adams expands on the doings at the Post in the Examiner story “Washington Post edits and adds editor’s notes to at least a dozen Steele dossier stories.”
Despite the supposed “epic fail,” the media gloriously succeeded in its mission to defame Donald Trump and to cripple the Trump presidency. It was a job well done.
What did Post reporters Tom Hamburger and Rosalind Helderman have to say to Farhi about the Post’s correction and excision of key parts of their 2017 and 2019 stories identifying Sergei Millian as one of Steele’s key sources (“Source D”)? Farhi tells us: “They declined to comment.” That is pathetic.
Recall that BuzzFeed published the Steele Dossier in January 2017. It is posted online here. Howard Blum usefully extracted Steele’s identification of unnamed sources in his ludicrously breathless Vanity Fair story:
Source A—to use the careful nomenclature of his dossier—was “a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure.” Source B was “a former top level intelligence officer still active in the Kremlin.” And both of these insiders, after “speaking to a trusted compatriot,” would claim that the Kremlin had spent years getting its hooks into Donald Trump.
Source E was “an ethnic Russian” and “close associate of Republican US presidential candidate Donald Trump.”
This individual proved to be a treasure trove of information. “Speaking in confidence to a compatriot,” the talkative Source E “admitted there was a well-developed conspiracy of cooperation between them [the Trump campaign] and the Russian leadership.” Then this: “The Russian regime had been behind the recent leak of embarrassing e-mail messages, emanating from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to the WikiLeaks platform.” And finally: “In return the Trump team had agreed to sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue and to raise US/NATO defense commitments in the Baltic and Eastern Europe to deflect attention away from Ukraine.”
Then there was Source D, “a close associate of Trump who had organized and managed his recent trips to Moscow,” and Source F, “a female staffer” at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton hotel, who was co-opted into the network by an Orbis “ethnic Russian operative” working hand in hand with the loquacious Trump insider, Source E.
I thought at the time that Steele’s “sources” were a joke and so they have proved to be. Did the “veteran reporters” (as Farhi describes them) Hamburger and Helderman really think that Steele had picked up the phone and debriefed a “senior Russian foreign ministry figure” or “former op level intelligence officer still active in the Kremlin”?
We now know that the Steele Dossier was commissioned by Glenn Simpson/Fusion GPS working on behalf of the Clinton campaign. It was paid for by campaign counsel Marc Elias and the law firm Perkins Coie. Rep. Devin Nunes pierced the veil of the law firm cutout in late 2017 and called out the FBI for its reliance on the dossier in taking out FISA warrants on Carter Page without relevant disclosures. The memo setting forth Nunes’s findings is posted online here. What we have are intimations of immorality: the biggest scandal in American political history by far.
Yesterday Chuck Todd interviewed Adam Schiff in an eight-minute Meet the Press segment. Though the competition is stiff and there is room for argument, Schiff may be the most despicable man in Congress. Todd raised the issue of the Steele Dossier with Schiff in the last three minutes and let Schiff move on with the assertion that he was right to “raise questions.” Todd’s performance was characteristically lame, as is his crawl backwards from the dossier.
Todd welcomed Fusion GPS principals Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch to promote their book on the dossier in November 2019 (video below). The book is aptly titled Crime In Progress. Simpson is a perpetrator and the crime is still in progress. Chuck Todd et al. are aiders and abettors.
PAUL ADDS: I agree with Scott that the mainstream media did not fail (epically, or otherwise) in its treatment of the Steele dossier. The Washington Post and other MSM organs were determined to destroy Donald Trump. They seized on the dossier because it was the weapon they thought might do the trick. They didn’t care about its veracity.
Anything that came out of Trump’s mouth, the Post treated as presumptively false. To say the least, such skepticism did not apply to derogatory information about Trump.
This was the equivalent of the CBS story about George Bush shirking his National Guard duty. CBS didn’t care whether the story was true. It ran with the story because the story served its purposes.
So too here.
The BS dossier didn’t destroy Trump. It played no part in his 2020 defeat. However, this fabricated story defamed Trump and impaired his presidency, as Scott says.
Thus, this wasn’t an epic failure by the mainstream media. It was a partial success.
The Washington Post has corrected a report on this matter from a 2017. I view the correction as a continuation of the Post’s deception.
First came the bogus stories. Now, when the stories have been thoroughly discredited, comes the Post’s bogus attempt to convince the public that it wishes it hadn’t promoted lies about the President of the United States.