If Russian collusion has been the opiate of the Trump-hating masses for more than two years, the New York Times was one of its biggest suppliers.
Since late 2016, desperate to drown their sorrows over Donald Trump’s shocking win, political junkies on the Left and NeverTrump Right eased their inner pain with a daily collusion fix injected courtesy of the Gray Lady. With one click on the front page or opinion section, Times’ readers could satisfy their anti-Trump addiction while making them feel, if only for a few fleeting moments, powerful and in control.
Pain would give way to rage, then a false sense of hope. Surely the man installed by Vladimir Putin would never serve out his term, they would say to themselves while feeding their insatiable craving. And just as the high wore off, the Times would offer another hit, provoking hallucinations about Trump and his corrupt family being hauled out of the White House in handcuffs by Robert Mueller.
So, in a way, you can’t blame the Times for obsessively covering the fabricated Trump-Russia collusion storyline. It’s what successful drug dealers do—keep their customers hooked on a steady drip of dope and desperate for more.
The paper’s executive editor admitted as much during a closed-door meeting with dozens of Times’ reporters on August 11, after a somewhat positive front-page headline about the president enraged Times staff and readers.
The daily supply of Russian collusion dope dried up, but Trump-hating addicts don’t need rehab just yet: The Times is stocking up another toxic potion—white supremacy—to poison the body politic and cure any collusion withdrawal symptoms.
Pivoting to the failed effort to prove that the Trump campaign conspired with the Russians to sway the 2016 election, Dean Baquet confessed his news organization trafficked the collusion drug until it lost its potency.
“The day Bob Mueller walked off that witness stand, two things happened. Our readers who want Donald Trump to go away suddenly thought, ‘Holy shit, Bob Mueller is not going to do it.’ And Donald Trump got a little emboldened politically, I think,” Baquet said during a “crisis town hall meeting” at the paper’s headquarters last week.
“And I think that the story changed,” he added. “A lot of the stuff we’re talking about started to emerge like six or seven weeks ago. We’re a little tiny bit flat-footed. I mean, that’s what happens when a story looks a certain way for two years. Right?”
The Daily Fix
Let’s take a peek at what the Russian collusion “story” looked like at the Times for two years. Since January 2017, the paper has mentioned Special Counsel Robert Mueller more than 3,100 times. His investigation is inserted into nearly every article about President Trump and his administration, even as late as this week.
After regurgitating every Democratic-sourced talking point on Russian election interference beginning in June 2016—Russians hacked the DNC email server; Trump asked the Russians to conduct “cyberespionage” against the Clinton campaign; Trump is a Putin stooge and would do the Russian president’s bidding in the White House—the Times published almost-daily warnings about Trump’s ties to Russia after Election Day. The pace hastened after Obama officials and Trump foes on both the Left and Right demanded a formal investigation into whether Trump and his campaign colluded with the Kremlin to help him win the presidency.
“The American people must immediately demand a cessation of all consequential actions by this ‘president’ until we can be assured that Russian efforts to hack our election, in a way that was clearly meant to help him and damage his opponent, did not also include collusion with or coverup by anyone involved in the Trump campaign and now administration,” ranted Times’ columnist Charles Blow on March 6, 2017.
When former FBI Director James Comey finally confirmed in March 2017 that his agency had been investigating members of the Trump campaign since July 2016, the Times’ editorial board concluded Trump’s Justice Department could not conduct a fair investigation.
“Appointing a special prosecutor would show that [former Attorney General Jeff] Sessions is willing to have an impartial examination of his actions as a surrogate for Trump last year—which he has assured the public were entirely appropriate,” the editorial said.
After Trump fired Comey, the Times compared it to Watergate, insisted it was what Putin wanted, and then elevated Comey to hero-worship status. (The vocal Trump foe is now an occasional contributor to the Times’ opinion page.)
Then, on May 16, 2017, the Times published details from a memo Comey wrote and intentionally leaked to the paper that claimed Trump asked him to shut down the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Comey later admitted he leaked the memo, an action that is itself under investigation, in order to “prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”
The next day, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller, a friend and former colleague of Comey’s, as a special counsel empowered to investigate collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. The move was met with effusive praise at the Times.
From that point forward, the Times published at least a few columns, editorials or news articles every day about the special counsel’s probe.
Its readers went on a full-blown bender.
The Times repeatedly applauded Mueller’s hardball prosecutorial tactics, as long as they were used against any Trump associate. One Times reporter even eavesdropped on a private lunch conversation between two of Trump’s lawyers in September 2017 discussing how to handle the Mueller probe. Daily drama about whether Trump would fire the special counsel before Mueller had a chance to indict the president dominated the paper’s coverage, acting both as a stimulant and a depressant for Times’ readers. According to the paper, Trump “attacked” the Russia investigation more than 1,100 times.
The paper was obsessed with a 20-minute meeting between Donald Trump, Jr. and the “Russian lawyer” at the Trump Tower in June 2016; dozens of articles and opinion pieces predicted doom for the president’s son and insisted the brief meeting was the clearest evidence of election collusion.
Conveniently, however, the paper of record repeatedly failed to disclose the Russian lawyer’s ties to Fusion GPS, the firm hired by the Democratic National Committee and Clinton presidential campaign to produce the Steele dossier.
As House Republicans honed in on the political origins of Comey’s counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign and the handling of the dossier, the Times offered a big assist: A drunken chat between a low-level campaign aide and an Australian diplomat triggered the FBI’s unprecedented investigation into an American presidential campaign.
“It was not, as Mr. Trump and other politicians have alleged, a dossier compiled by a former British spy hired by a rival campaign. Instead, it was firsthand information from one of America’s closest intelligence allies,” the Times’ assured readers in December 2017.
In fact, the Times ran plenty of cover for the perpetrators of the bogus Trump-Russia collusion hoax.
Steele, Comey, former deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI Peter Strzok, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former CIA Director John Brennan and others were alternatively American heroes and victims of Trump. So is House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), despite his lies to the American people about proof of Russian collusion.
No allegation or crumb of evidence was too far fetched for the Times. A September 2018 report claimed that the reason why Justice Department official Bruce Ohr was in frequent contact with Christopher Steele in 2016 and 2017 wasn’t because the British operative was working as a lobbyist for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, it was because they were plotting a super secret “oligarch-flipping” plan.
Rock Bottom? Not Quite
As the release of the Mueller report loomed, the Times made all sorts of predictions about how the document might serve as a roadmap for impeachment and/or prosecution. (In fact, Times articles were cited roughly 75 times in the Mueller report, more than any other news organization; Maggie Haberman, a Times reporter and Trump antagonist, appears several times in the footnotes.)
Then came the crash.
Not only did Team Mueller fail to find proof of collusion, the deified prosecutor turned in an abysmal performance before Congress last month. The daily supply of Russian collusion dope dried up, but Trump-hating addicts don’t need rehab just yet: The Times is stocking up another toxic potion—white supremacy—to poison the body politic and cure any collusion withdrawal symptoms.
Folks like Baquet can only be held partially responsible: There is no supply if there’s no demand. The Times’ readers demand that their Trump-hating addiction is satisfied every day—the Times is just doing what any corner-hustling dealer would do to delay their customers’ sobriety.
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