As the long-cherished Trump–Russia election collusion narrative of the political left trudges slowly to its grave, some members of the mainstream media just can’t let it go. Desperate stories from frantic reporters trying to save the narrative attest to this.
First, we had the Guardian putting out an absurd story in late November about then-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort supposedly sneaking into one of the most secure buildings in the UK to meet with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange not once, not twice, but three times (you can read my column on that particular travesty of a “news” story, entitled “Guardian’s Manafort Story Another Sign of Media’s Desperation”). According to the Guardian’s anonymous sources, Manafort’s visits with Assange had something to do with the stolen Clinton campaign/Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails, which WikiLeaks published.
Then on Dec. 27, 2018, McClatchy generated a lot of heat and very little light by publishing a story claiming that a cell phone that had belonged to a former Trump Organization lawyer—and now convicted felon, thanks to the Mueller special counsel—was “pinged” in the Prague area during the time frame that the Steele dossier placed him in the Czech Republic. The dossier alleges he was there, supposedly making payments to the hackers who stole the Hillary Clinton/DNC emails.
As reporter Ashe Schow wrote at The Daily Wire, McClatchy reporter Greg Gordon almost immediately started walking back the claims in his reporting:
“During one of these interviews, Gordon acknowledged that he had no direct evidence or sources to confirm his reporting, just that he had sources who had sources (that’s not a typo).
“The sources have—some of the sources have government sources, and some of the sources are—are people who have told us that they have trusted intelligence-type sources that they get information from,’ Gordon told MSNBC’s Joy Reid. He also told Reid he ‘wish we had’ corroborating evidence for the story.
“If nothing else, this demonstrates clear bias on the part of Gordon and [reporter Peter] Stone, who rushed to report something they could not verify.”
Note what both of these two fantastical “news” stories I’ve related attempted to “prove”: that Trump campaign people were involved in WikiLeaks acquiring those Clinton/DNC emails from hackers and subsequently publishing them.
These are lame attempts by media reporters desperate to verify the biggest allegation they care about that is found in former MI6 officer Christopher Steele’s infamous anti-Trump dossier—that Trump only won the 2016 election because of collusion with Russia and Russia’s supposed hackers.
The fact is, due to the publicly known facts, Steele and his dossier simply can’t be rehabilitated. Let’s go over those facts about Steele:
1. Steele hasn’t been back to Russia since his undercover MI6 tour there, from 1990 to 1993.
2. Steele had his cover blown as an intelligence agent in Paris in 2002, when his name appeared on an anonymously published list of 117 undercover British agents. He returned to the UK and worked the Russia desk for MI6 for three years, from 2006 to 2009, before leaving the agency for the private sector.
3. Steele was being paid to compile this dossier by the Clinton campaign, not an intelligence service.
4. Because the dossier didn’t come from an intelligence agency, but instead was created by paid political operatives, great care had to be exercised in getting the dossier into the hands of federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies so it could be used as if it was an intelligence product.
That’s a crucial distinction to make—that the dossier wasn’t produced by intelligence agents working for an actual intelligence agency. The reason is, an intelligence product has to be treated very differently, and, by its very nature, much of it is classified and can’t be shared with the news media, except under strict protocols. And that’s one of the biggest problems with Steele’s dossier.
Intelligence services certainly wouldn’t have been shopping real intelligence product to the news media, which is exactly what Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson and his employee Steele were doing prior to the 2016 election.
Now, remember, it’s perfectly fine for people like Simpson and Steele of Fusion GPS to go around to media outlets and proffer anonymous allegations for publication, because they are paid political operatives and not intelligence officials. They work for a political client, not the federal government.
But once Simpson and Steele gave the same allegations they’d been feeding to media journalists to Bruce Ohr at the Justice Department (DOJ), somebody got the bright idea of passing off the dossier information as an intelligence product, so it could be used in an actual FBI counterintelligence operation against the Trump campaign.
And that created a huge problem. At least, if that ever became public knowledge. Which it has.
Political operatives can run around offering paid political opposition research to news media, but federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies are manifestly not supposed to be doing this kind of thing with actual classified intelligence information.
Can you see where I’m going with this?
The moment Ohr accepted that dossier information from Simpson and Steele, and officials inside the DOJ/FBI decided to utilize it in their “Crossfire Hurricane” counterintelligence operation targeting the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, Steele no longer could be called a paid political operative. He had to be considered an intelligence agent and the information he provided had to be called a real intelligence product.
Recall that Steele had his relationship as a paid intelligence source with the FBI abruptly terminated in late 2016, when the agency realized there was no way they’d ever be able to hide that he’d been leaking the same dossier information that he and Simpson had been sharing with the FBI to journalists such as David Corn of Mother Jones and Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News.
All of this is done to muddy the waters to hide that the Steele dossier isn’t now, nor has it ever been, the result of intelligence work by a real intelligence agency. It’s an amalgamation of various anonymous second- and third-hand allegations told to Steele by people who still to this day have never been identified, and what effort, if any, the FBI expended to verify these hearsay stories is still unclear.
But don’t expect any of these facts to stop mainstream media reporters who are still intently focused on selling a narrative that the Steele dossier is a reliable, verified intelligence report created by intelligence professionals, rather than a political hit job paid for by none other than the Hillary Clinton campaign, itself.
Brian Cates is a political pundit and writer based in southern Texas and the author of “Nobody Asked For My Opinion … But Here It Is Anyway!” He can be reached on Twitter at @drawandstrike and at firstname.lastname@example.org
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.