Glenn R. Simpson, co-founder of the research firm Fusion GPS, arrives for a scheduled appearance before a closed House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
One of the amazing things about the entire “collusion” investigation is the utter credulity and viciousness of the media in publicizing any claim, no matter how thinly sourced, if it is perceived to be damaging to either President Trump or his administration.
Brian Ross, for instance, was given the heave-ho for claiming that Mike Flynn was going to testify that “candidate” Trump told him to get in contact with the godless Russkies and sell out America. CNN reported that Donald Trump, Jr., was given a week’s advance notice of when Wikileaks would release the DNC emails; as it turned out, he was told after they had been released. The list goes on and on. The administration had barely been in office before the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin was reporting on mass resignations at State and a blow-up between then HHS Secretary John Kelly and Steve Bannon. Both of which turned out to be patently false.
The thread linking many of these stories together is not just Trump-hatred but a willingness of the media to use sources, like Adam Schiff, who are blatantly and overtly hostile to the administration and identify them in very neutral language.
Another thread which points to the motivation of the media in these stories is that even when outlets are burned and stories retracted, they stand by their sources. In the case of Brian Ross, it looks like he was deliberately torched by a source. CNN’s Manu Raju was smoked like a cheap cigar by his sources–there is no way two different people made the same mistake about the date of an email in two independent conversations–and he took the heat rather than
burn Adam Schiff reveal his source.
Sometimes, though, you get enough information to identify the source with illuminating results.
Back in late August, NBC’s Ken Dilanian (remember that name) ran a story titled Manafort Notes From Russian Meet Refer to Political Contributions.
Paul Manafort’s notes from a controversial Trump Tower meeting with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign included a mention of political contributions near a reference to the Republican National Committee, two sources briefed on the evidence told NBC News.
The contents of the note, which have not been previously disclosed, elevated the significance of the June 2016 meeting for congressional investigators, who are focused on determining whether it included any discussion of donations from Russian sources to either the Trump campaign or the Republican Party.
It is illegal for foreigners to donate to American elections. The meeting happened just as Trump had secured the Republican nomination for president, and he was considered a longshot to win. Manafort was the campaign chairman at the time.
As you can well imagine, this was like catnip laced with Spanish fly for a lot of people. Here was the smoking gun to the collusion that is the Holy Grail of the anti-Trump movement.
Only one problem. The story was fake. There was nothing in the notes about donations.
Now we know how this came to be.
Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS, employer of Christopher Steele, bosom buddy of Bruce Ohr, employer of Nellie Ohr, and employer of the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was interviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 22.
Contemporaneous notes taken by President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort at a meeting with a Russian lawyer and lobbyist at Trump Tower during the election reference Cyprus, “active sponsors of RNC,” and “Russian adoptions by American families,” according to an interview transcript released by Congress earlier this week.
Senate Judiciary Committee investigators showed the notes to Glenn Simpson, the cofounder of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, and asked him whether he recognized any of the terms or phrases Manafort wrote down during the June 9 meeting and later provided to congressional investigators.
Just a few days later NBC runs its story.
Now back to the name I asked you to remember. Ken Dilanian is a reporter for NBC’s investigative news unit. He also seems, by the weight of circumstantial evidence, to be very close to Glenn Simpson.
Dilanian has done reporting on the Magnitsky Act that parallels the pro-Russia stance taken by Fusion GPS. Even to the extent of questioning whether or not Magnitsky was beaten in prison (SPOILER ALERT: he was). You’ll recall that Dilanian was the guy Glenn Simpson went to to correct his allegation that the FBI was working with a mole in the Trump campaign or Trump Organization.
Here you have a guy who is virulently hostile to Trump and his administration. He’s allowed to see Manafort’s notes and calls a friend at NBC with a story. Best casing it, Simpson was simply misremembering what he saw, but one can’t exclude the possibility that Simpson saw a chance to get another bite at the Trump Dossier apple by implying the Russians were giving money to the RNC.
Dilanian pushes the story public and it takes a week to get the real word out and by then the fake story has been discussed and no one is interested in the truth. And what was Dilanian thinking in using a source like Simpson on a subject in which Simpson was emotionally invested in which the only evidence was Simpson’s memory?
Whenever someone tells you that journalists are only interested in the truth and that the press should be free from scrutiny, ask them for a couple of ounces of whatever it is they are smoking.