The Coming Disinformation War

In the Wall Street Journal, Holman Jenkins reviews the dishonorable role that the intelligence community played in the 2016 and 2020 elections, and predicts more of the same. In 2016:

A Democratic presidential campaign, representing the incumbent party, fabricated evidence that its Republican opponent and the eventual president-elect was a Russian agent, and the in-power party’s FBI legitimated the evidence in the eyes of the media so it would be widely reported and believed by the public.

To make sure it was believed, top intelligence officials of the outgoing administration went on cable television to call the new president a Russian mole and Vladimir Putin his case officer.

That sums it up nicely. In 2020:

When the formerly incumbent party’s candidate was seeking to reclaim the White House four years later, the same former officials concocted a new lie to cover up embarrassing information about the candidate’s family. These highly connected former officials had five days to check things out before claiming Hunter Biden’s laptop had “classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” … Specific, dated and verifiable events and messages weren’t denied by the Bidens, etc.

Obama intelligence officials James Clapper and John Brennan, and their 49 colleagues, lie today when they say they weren’t lying then.

And yet, there has been no accountability:

These realties have been acknowledged on these pages, in a few other papers around the country, on Fox News and at some partisan websites. They might as well never have happened as far as most of the press is concerned.
Democratic and anti-Trump Republican political spinmeisters, from David Axelrod to Mike Murphy to Bill Kristol, spend a hours a week on TV and in podcasts holding forth on politics, talking endlessly about Donald Trump, yet leave the collusion episodes unanalyzed as if they never occurred.

Well, of course. The “mainstream” press was an active and knowing collaborator in the disinformation campaigns of both 2016 and 2020. Why would they blow the whistle on themselves?

The real motive for the press silence is fear and shame over acts that are close to treasonous.

Here, Jenkins gives the press way too much credit. It is true that the news media’s acts were close to treasonous, but they are not at all ashamed of them. Their goal was to swing the 2016 election for Hillary Clinton, and the 2020 election for Joe Biden. In their eyes, one out of two isn’t bad. They are proud of what they did.

Jenkins says the intelligence community is likely to pull another disinformation campaign in 2024:

There’s also a significant likelihood that 2024 will see lies manufactured by agents and veterans of the national-security state, as in 2016 and 2020. Then the press will get a third opportunity. Those reporters and editors who are still capable of participating in the media business in good faith need to start thinking now about how they will deal with this if it happens again.

Again, Jenkins gives the press too much credit. The press will have a third opportunity, all right–a third opportunity to disseminate misinformation that reporters and editors know to be lies. And that is exactly what they are going to do. The idea that there are still “mainstream” reporters and editors who “participate[e] in the media business in good faith” is delusional. Their job, as they see it, is not to report the news. It is to shape the news, in a manner helpful to the Democratic Party.

They have been doing that non-stop since 2016, in ways that Jenkins notes in his column, and they have no intention of stopping now.

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