Ever since the election, #FakeNews has been the topic. Shortly after November 9, the media tried to claim that “fake news” put out on Facebook by “Macedonian teenagers” had flipped the election in Trump’s favor.
Oddly enough, that claim has largely been proven to be #FakeNews itself. Initially the media wanted to set themselves up as gatekeepers to decide what “news” was allowed. Apparently someone with no trace of irony whatsoever thought that a consortium of media fact-checkers built around, wait for it, the Washington Post‘s Glenn Kessler, the noxious PolitiFact, and the laughable Snopes.com should police the news.
One useful thing this whole exercise did was draw attention to just how terrible reporting is and how many reporters have no scruples whatsoever nor any compunction about just making stuff up … so long as it fits their agenda.
Even though The Federalist has documented sixteen significant instances since Trump’s election where the media has manufactured “news” out of whole cloth, there is one particular instance that needs particular calling out, because it is so egregious that if Russia were running an information operation against Donald Trump this is the kind of story the GRU or FSB would employ.
Over the weekend just about 100% of news attention was focused on Trump’s executive order limiting travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven nations that were either failed states harboring terrorists or state sponsors of terror. The Washington Post‘s Josh Rogin had this contribution: Inside the White House-Cabinet battle over Trump’s immigration order. Here’s the good part:
On the evening of Saturday, Jan. 28, as airport protests raged over President Trump’s executive order on immigration, the man charged with implementing the order, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, had a plan. He would issue a waiver for lawful permanent residents, a.k.a. green-card holders, from the seven majority-Muslim countries whose citizens had been banned from entering the United States.
White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon wanted to stop Kelly in his tracks. Bannon paid a personal and unscheduled visit to Kelly’s Department of Homeland Security office to deliver an order: Don’t issue the waiver. Kelly, according to two administration officials familiar with the confrontation, refused to comply with Bannon’s instruction. That was the beginning of a weekend of negotiations among senior Trump administration staffers that led, on Sunday, to a decision by Trump to temporarily freeze the issuance of executive orders.
The confrontation between Bannon and Kelly pitted a political operator against a military disciplinarian. Respectfully but firmly, the retired general and longtime Marine told Bannon that despite his high position in the White House and close relationship with Trump, the former Breitbart chief was not in Kelly’s chain of command, two administration officials said. If the president wanted Kelly to back off from issuing the waiver, Kelly would have to hear it from the president directly, he told Bannon.
Bannon left Kelly’s office without getting satisfaction. Trump didn’t call Kelly to tell him to hold off. Kelly issued the waiver late Saturday night, although it wasn’t officially announced until the following day.
Great story. You have drama. You have the good guy, Kelly, telling the bad guy, Bannon, to **** off. It has it all. This has Pulitzer Prize written all over it. But there were two things that made one queasy.
First, Josh Rogin was the reporter. He’s the guy, you will recall, that reported on a mass resignation of senior staff at State when, in fact, they were all Obama hold-overs who’d just had their previously proffered resignations accepted. So it was pretty much the opposite of a walk-out over matters of principle. The second thing was this note at the end of the article:
Editor’s Note: Prior to publication of this column, The Post sought comment from the Department of Homeland Security but not from the White House. We should have done both. After publication, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told The Post that Stephen Bannon did not travel to see Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on the evening of Jan. 28. – Fred Hiatt
But it got worse.
You were wrong. You failed to reach out to anyone. There was not Sat meeting, he wasn't on call, no sr staff meeting. https://t.co/TLJWnmpknU
— Sean Spicer (@PressSec) February 4, 2017
We are told by multiple sources that not only did Bannon and Kelly not get into a confrontation, but that the conference call Rogin describes is simply fictitious. It never even took place.
On Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testified on Capitol Hill about the travel ban Executive Order and the subject of Rogin’s story came up. This is what Kelly had to say:
Kelly in no uncertain terms backed up the White House’s denial of a report that chief strategist Steve Bannon personally attempted to stop him from issuing a waiver for green-card holders.
“I read that article Saturday morning and I would tell you that every paragraph, every sentence, every word, every space, every comma, every period was wrong,” Kelly said. “It was a fantasy story.”
Kelly said he told his public affairs team to find the writer of the original Washington Post piece — an opinion column from Josh Rogin — and “tell him that whoever his sources are, they are playing him for a fool.”
And yet, rather than retracting the story, the Post continues to run this egregious fantasy with lame “Updates.”
There is no way you can look at this story and the slipshod work that went into it and conclude any but one of two things. Either Rogin is a pathological fantasist who simply makes up stories that fit his worldview, or he’s a freakin idiot who has “I am a freakin idiot” tattooed on his forehead and tells all his “sources” that he’s an idiot.
Regardless of which option you choose, the outcome is exactly the same.