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Elections

Our Tawdry, Untrustworthy Fourth Estate

The McCabe-CNN hookup is the latest in the long-running fling between the Obama Justice Department and the media.


- August 26th, 2019
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The ongoing affair between the nation’s top law enforcement agency and the news media resulted in another hookup last week when CNN announced the hiring of Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI.

McCabe, a vocal Trump foe who opened a criminal investigation into the sitting president of the United States in May 2017 during his short stint as acting director, was fired by the FBI last year for lying to federal investigators.

He played a key role in concocting the Trump-Russia collusion hoax; wrote a book filled with animus toward the president; and remains under a grand jury investigation. Last week, McCabe’s lawyers met with federal prosecutors who are deciding whether to indict him for perjury.

So, of course, CNN hired him last week.

“They Literally Know Nothing”

Once upon a time in America, journalists embraced their role as the nation’s whistleblowers; the so-called Fourth Estate could usually be trusted to expose government corruption and name names. A generation of J-school graduates strived to be the next Carl Bernstein or Bob Woodward, digging for their own Watergate moment. 

But that all changed in 2008 with the candidacy of Barack Obama. The press served as a bodyguard for the 44th president, overlooking major abuses and failures during his tenure; suggesting that any legitimate criticism of Obama or his policies was rooted in racism; and regurgitating any administration-fed talking point as fact.

Ben Rhodes, Obama’s “mind-meld” advisor, admitted as much when he told a reporter how the White House brainwashed the media: “The average reporter we talk to is 27-years-old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns,” Rhodes bragged to the New York Times magazine in May 2016.  “That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

Then along came Donald Trump. 

The same outlets that shielded Obama for more than eight years have partnered with partisan government bureaucrats to attack Trump from every angle. And nowhere is the nefarious pact more intertwined than between the Obama Justice Department and the news media. 

Leaking and Colluding With Impunity

Since 2016, top Justice Department officials, including powerful FBI chiefs, have conspired with biased reporters to sabotage the Trump campaign and presidency. Reporters played a key role in convincing the American public that the Trump-Russia collusion hoax, manufactured and executed by the Obama Justice Department among other agencies, was true; news articles planted by political operatives with the imprimatur of the DOJ appeared as evidence in government warrants presented to a secret court. Dozens of articles by Trump-hostile news organizations were cited in the final Mueller report on collusion and obstruction of justice.

Two damning articles containing classified information published early in Trump’s presidency—a February 2017 article about the intercepted phone calls of former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn and an April 2017 article revealing the FISA warrant on campaign aide Carter Page, both published in the Washington Post—were sourced by numerous anonymous intelligence and law enforcement officials. Although the disclosure of classified information is a felony, no one has yet been charged with the crime.

Instead, many of the suspected leakers, such as McCabe, have been rewarded with premium spots on newspaper opinion pages and on cable news programs. They’ve written books, which have earned them large advances, glowing coverage, and lengthy interviews on network primetime shows.

Willing Pawns

Former FBI Director James Comey is a media darling after having spent the latter part of his service to Barack Obama trying to ruin Donald Trump. Not only did he authorize the unprecedented investigation into an American political campaign just months before the 2016 presidential election, Comey was an eager and willing pawn for Trump-hating journalists.

A few weeks before Inauguration Day, Comey briefed Trump on the most salacious portion of the sketchy Steele dossier—the so-called Russian hooker “pee tape”—for the sole purpose of giving CNN a scoop alleging that the Russians had compromising material on the incoming president.

The former FBI director refused to investigate illegal leaks to the media; after he was fired in May 2017, Comey leaked his “memos” through a friend to the Times in order to prompt the appointment of a special counsel. Even though Comey is the subject of numerous investigations underway at the Justice Department, he often is featured in the Times opinion pages where he continues to blast Trump and the Republican Party.

Comey’s underlings tooks a cue from their boss in 2016 and 2017: Text messages between FBI lawyer Lisa Page and her alleged lover Peter Strzok revealed their extensive “leaking” strategy to plant anti-Trump articles in the press before and after the election.

The pair repeatedly discussed their contact with journalists, especially those at the New York Times and the Washington Post. They pitched talking points to the Post about Russian interference in the election then exchanged a link to a September 5, 2016 article warning about a federal investigation into the Kremlin’s activities. The piece cited a “senior intelligence official who, like others interviewed, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.” Strzok was a top official in the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division.

They continued to manipulate the press after Inauguration Day, constantly tracking when their planted stories were posted. Several texts refer to “Andy,” meaning Andrew McCabe, CNN’s newest mouthpiece. The lovers fretted when one news outlet was upset about a scoop given to another outlet. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said the Strzok-Page texts raised “grave concerns regarding a systemic culture of media-leaking by high-ranking officials at the FBI and DOJ.”

Strzok is believed to be the unnamed FBI official that the Justice Department’s Inspector General in May accused of misconduct and violating federal law, including disclosing classified information to the press and accepting gifts from reporters. (He was not charged). 

“Profound Concerns” and Sinking Trust

But Strzok and Page weren’t alone. In his lengthy report on the Clinton email investigation, Inspector General Michael Horowitz detailed the cozy—and prohibited—relationship between the FBI and journalists.

“We identified numerous FBI employees, at all levels of the organization and with no official reason to be in contact with the media, who were nevertheless in frequent contact with reporters,” Horowitz wrote in his June 2018 report. “We have profound concerns about the volume and extent of unauthorized media contacts by FBI personnel that we have uncovered during our review. In addition, we identified instances where FBI employees improperly received benefits from reporters, including tickets to sporting events, golfing outings, drinks and meals, and admittance to nonpublic social events.”

And it wasn’t just the FBI in cahoots with the media. Bruce Ohr, a top Justice Department lawyer, served as the agency’s private handler for dossier author Christopher Steele. Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked with Steele on Trump opposition research on behalf of Fusion GPS, which had been retained by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign.

Steele and Glenn Simpson, Fusion’s co-owner, admitted to meeting with reporters and editors of the country’s top news organizations to pitch the dossier and seed negative stories about Trump before election day. Steele was fired by the FBI (yes, Steele was working for the Democrats and the Obama FBI at the same time in 2016) for leaking his anti-Trump propaganda to the news media before the 2016 election.

Other Obama-era Justice Department officials including former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former FBI assistant director Frank Figliuzzi and former Justice Department spokesman Matt Miller are regular guests on network and cable news shows to feed the Trump-hating beast.

A poll released last week showed that a majority of Americans not only don’t trust the political news they receive, they think the media actively is trying to block the president’s agenda. At the same time, there is a widening trust deficit in the federal government. Republicans’ favorable view of the FBI has dropped significantly, from 59 percent in 2014 to 48 percent this year. 

The Left and NeverTrump Right whine daily about the alleged damage Trump is inflicting on the presidency. But the real and lasting damage to the media and government institutions once held in esteem by Americans will be far worse. CNN’s hiring of Andrew McCabe just dug that hole a little deeper.

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