The Washington Post’s media critic Erik Wemple is doing a multi-part series about the Trump dossier. It’s rather brutal. With the Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz delivering the final kill shot to the document that led to the Russian collusion hysteria that engulfed the media for two years, there is a reckoning coming. No one will be fired, but large amounts of crow are on the menu. As we’ve said often, the Post is liberal, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. If there is one network that is unhinged by Trump, unabashedly liberal, and totally consumed by the Russian collusion myth, it has to be MSNBC. The network is meant to keep liberal blood pressures low.
Host Rachel Maddow’s coverage of the Trump dossier was ripped as “misleading and dishonest” by Wemple who dove into a lengthy timeline of the malpractice. Maddow wanted the dossier to be true—and it all blew up in her face. The dossier was compiled by Christopher Steele who was hired by research firm Fusion GPS to get dirt on Trump. Fusion’s services were retained by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democrats. It was a politically biased piece of opposition research that was cited as credible evidence to secure a FISA spy warrant against Carter Page, a former Trump campaign official. And all of this while the FBI suffered systemic failures in obtaining that warrant that included omission or exclusion of exculpatory evidence against Page. The FISA court has demanded an overhaul. And once again, we have an insight into how the government can destroy people’s lives with impunity. This dossier is ground zero for the nonsense that was bellowed into the airwaves for months, with zero evidence to back any of it up. But remember that time Maddow said the dossier had Trump dead to rights? Here’s part of that timeline Wemple put together (via WaPo):
Name a host on cable news who has dug more deeply into Trump-Russia than MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. She’s read hundreds, maybe thousands, of court filings; she’s read the plume of literature on Russia-Trump; and she’s out with a new book on the bane of petro-states: “Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth.”
Sorting through the silence from the FBI and the unverified claims in the dossier, Maddow riffed on her Jan. 13, 2017, program: “I mean, had the FBI looked into what was in that dossier and found that it was all patently false, they could tell us that now, right?” said Maddow. “I mean, the dossier has now been publicly released. If the FBI looked into it and they found it was all trash, there’s no reason they can’t tell us that now. They’re not telling us that now. They’re not saying that. They’re not saying anything.”
That line of analysis has gained some important context via the Horowitz report. The FBI did, in fact, find “potentially serious problems” with Steele’s reporting as early as January 2017. A source review in March 2017 “did not make any findings that would have altered that judgment.”
On May 3, 2017, Maddow cited a CNN report that “parts of this dossier passed muster even in federal court when the dossier was used in part to justify a secret FISA court warrant for U.S. surveillance on a Trump campaign adviser.” Thanks to Horowitz, we now know that officials misused the dossier in this process, failing to disclose to the FISA court dossier-debunking information. Never place blind faith in the FBI!
“The Republican claim today was that the dossier has been increasingly discredited. That’s not true in terms of the public record about the dossier. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. As time goes on, more and more pieces do get independently corroborated,” Maddow said.
On Oct. 5, 2017, Maddow said that Steele had “a lot” of the dossier “dead to rights.”
The release of the Mueller report in April provided a kick in the derriere for backers of the dossier. As Glenn Kessler pointed out in The Post, the central allegation of the dossier — an “extensive conspiracy between campaign team and Kremlin, sanctioned at highest levels and involving Russian diplomatic staff based in the US” as well as an "Agreed exchange of information established in both directions” — found no corroboration from Mueller’s investigation, even though the special counsel’s team was charged with probing just this matter.
Several days after the Mueller report emerged, Maddow addressed not the dissonance between Mueller and the dossier, but a point of possible corroboration.
When the story began to fall apart, as some of us already knew it would because there was no evidence, Maddow “found other topics more compelling. She was there for the bunkings, absent for the debunkings — a pattern of misleading and dishonest asymmetry,” wrote Wemple. I mean a lot of media members did that with the DOJ IG report focusing on the “no bias” portion of the report, which really isn’t true. There is no memo from FBI officials that were entitled “get Trump,” as The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel noted, but personal bias existed.
And now the kill shot:
Over a nearly two-year investigation released on Dec. 9, Horowitz and a team of investigators reviewed at least a million records, interviewed more than 100 individuals and otherwise probed the actions of the FBI and the Justice Department in the Russia investigation. In so doing, they reached an answer to Maddow’s question.
“The FBI concluded, among other things, that although consistent with known efforts by Russia to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections, much of the material in the Steele election reports, including allegations about Donald Trump and members of the Trump campaign relied upon in the Carter Page FISA applications, could not be corroborated; that certain allegations were inaccurate or inconsistent with information gathered by the Crossfire Hurricane team; and that the limited information that was corroborated related to time, location and title information, much of which was publicly available.”
“Dead to rights,” huh? So, it looks like Maddow wrote an entire book based on fake news. Oh, and she refused to offer an on-the-record comment for Wemple’s story.
Dead to rights.