Posted by Curt on 28 November, 2018 at 10:28 am. 7 comments already!


Many media figures have swallowed whole, without evidence, a conspiracy theory that Donald Trump became president by treasonously colluding with Russia to steal the 2016 election from its rightful owner, Hillary Clinton. The information operation that pushed this story turned out to have been secretly developed and funded by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, a fact uncovered only through the tenacious digging of Republicans on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the face of major opposition from the media and Democrats on the committee.

The information operation has been fed to an increasingly compliant and credulous media with nearly no resistance. Fusion GPS is the Clinton- and Democrat-funded group that initiated the Russia collusion story, although it is now, according to congressional testimony, being spearheaded by the Democracy Integrity Project and funded to the tune of $50 million. The Washington Post quietly admitted, buried the news, really, that the operation was funded by George Soros.

The latest questionably sourced information in support of this dramatic tale that opponents of Trump cling to in order to delegitimize the results of the 2016 election is that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort secretly met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2013, 2015 and, ominously, in spring of 2016, just as the Trump campaign was heating up. Assange is holed up in London at the Ecuadorian embassy there and published the hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton aide John Podesta.

Even on first read the story seemed difficult to believe. It was based on anonymous sources so non-descript that they could be any of literally millions of people. A document from Ecuador’s Senain intelligence agency allegedly claimed a “Manaford” had visited Assange along with “Russians.” The story mentioned the discredited dossier that journalists wrote about and intelligence agencies used to secure wiretaps on Trump associates despite the failure to verify its claims.

Since the visitor logs for the Ecuador embassy are public and show no mentions of Manafort, the story had to come up with a convenient excuse for why he was missing from the logs. They went with “Sources in Ecuador, however, say Manafort was not logged.” Okay, then.

I suppose it’s possible that this outlandish story has merit, that a close ally of Trump was working with WikiLeaks in an election year and it never managed to come out or get leaked, wasn’t caught on visitor logs or by any of the U.K.’s over-eager spies who were all over everyone else who knew Trump. It’s possible that Manafort missed any of the gazillion cameras trained on visitors to the Ecuadorian embassy and was able to evade any intelligence gathering about this meeting. It’s possible, but to believe it or take it seriously, you’d have to have much better sourcing, particularly since Fusion-allied groups have a reputation of planting such stories with friendly journalists.

It’s been seven and a half months, for instance, since McClatchy’s Peter Stone and Greg Gordon claimed, without evidence, that the special counsel had the goods showing that Trump attorney Michael Cohen had gone to Prague to collude with Russia in the run-up to the 2016 election. This was a key fact in the dossier and Cohen claimed it was a bald-faced lie. Even after he agreed to cooperate with the feds, he claimed it was a lie. In the seven and a half months since McClatchy ran that “bombshell” story that nearly everyone fell for, literally no one has been able to corroborate the story.

So let’s look at how people who present themselves as newsmen or thoughtful pundits handled this extremely unverified story.

Here’s Ken “FusionKen” Dilanian, NBC’s “intelligence and national security reporter.” He’s one of the journalists known for uncritically publishing Russia conspiracy theories:

Here’s another reporter, The Atlantic’s Natasha Bertrand, also known for pushing Fusion GPS theories:

Perhaps worth noting that the story she mentions about texts, while billed as, you guessed it, a smoking gun of treasonous collusion, was a bit of a nothingburger, as explained here.

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