The media events of the last 24 hours have been a course in how to gin up a scandal. Unfortunately for the media, they’ve cried wolf so many times that all people hear when they talk is the Charlie Brown teacher voice.
Leaving aside questions of anyone’s veracity, let’s look at how this failed Watergate 2 played out over the last 24 hours.
A WaPo story based on anonymous intelligence community sources claimed that Trump had shared classified, code word intelligence from a partner with Russia, that methods and sources were jeopardized, and that Trump even told the Russians the location from which the intelligence was gathered, et cetera, et cetera.
Because of WaPo’s credibility track record, and their troubling reliance on anonymous sources, the story was met with *some* caution. Well, at least in a few corners. Progressives immediately came unglued.
Within hours, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Wall Street Journal all claimed to have “confirmed” the Washington Post’s story – via unnamed sources. Wanna bet the same unnamed sources talked to all of those publications? Does that give it any more credibility?
Look, I’ll write this as slowly as possible … If two sources tell the same story to five outlets, that doesn’t mean there are ten sources.
— Jubal E. Harshaw (@alimhaider) May 16, 2017
Then Wired runs a story about how this has a “chilling effect on intelligence liaison relationships” after claiming that the WaPo story was verified by Reuters and… Buzzfeed. Buzzfeed?! How in the hell is Buzzfeed given the status of verifying the story? I gotta see this one.
But hey, at least the experts Wired spoke with used their names.
Then Politico runs “Ex-intelligence leaders: ‘Nightmare’ if Trump leaked to Russia.” And on and on the stories dropped, late into the night.
Suddenly, it’s a completely verified story and everyone (in the mainstream media, at least) is up in arms about the possibility that President Trump shared intelligence with another country, breathlessly and ominously predicting DOOM! DISASTER! TERRORIST ATTACKS! And obviously, this is YET ANOTHER piece of evidence that Trump’s presidency was a Putin project all along.
Washington, D.C., where two or three “unnamed sources” going to four or five major news outlets with the same story somehow equals a boatload of sources, and the story becomes unquestionably confirmed.
That’s some common core thinking for ‘ya.
Perhaps there would be a little more trust in what WaPo or other mainstream media outlets claim if they weren’t so selective in their outrage.
Sharing intel with the Russians is bad, right? Possibly allowing methods and sources to get out in the wild is an impeachable, treasonous offense, right? Okay, well, media, when did you publish breathless, ominous think-pieces about:
- Barack Obama’s proposal to have ”enhanced intelligence sharing” with Russia about Syria? (Because you know Russia has NO DOG in that fight – their jets are just at Assad’s bases for decoration.)
- Hillary Clinton’s insecure, home brew server (where she discussed an Iranian scientist who gave the US information on Iran’s nuclear program and who later was executed by the Iranian regime)?
- Huma Abedin forwarding Anthony Weiner classified emails to print for Granny McCankles?
…and more? I’ll wait.
Oh, you didn’t? Then shut up and bring us factual reports from people who are willing to go on the record. Get your definitions of “treason” right. And maybe don’t help people commit felonies by sharing classified information with YOU.