Accuracy in Media

MSNBC anchor Brian Williams failed to acknowledge difficult questions surrounding the Robert Mueller probe, which is now heading into its second year.

In an interview with four former FBI officials, Williams failed to probe deeper into the origins of the Mueller probe, and instead, repeating the thesis from The New York Times that the FBI was even more cautious than usual prior to launching an investigation into the Trump campaign.

Williams fails to ask any critical questions of the origin of the FBI probe, including no mention of the partisan work by Christopher Steele. By failing to ask intellectually robust questions around the Mueller probe, Williams does a disservice to his viewers.

Kimberley Strassel at the Wall Street Journal detailed questions that the mainstream media is failing to ask the intelligence community surrounding the Mueller probe in a list of questions she created in the wake of Jim Comey’s book tour that would also largely apply to the four former FBI officials seated at Williams’ desk:

• You admit the Christopher Steele dossier was still ‘unverified’ when the FBI used it as the basis of a surveillance warrant against Carter Page. Please explain. Also explain the decision to withhold from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the dossier was financed by the Hillary Clinton campaign.

• You refer to Mr. Steele as a ‘credible’ source. Does the FBI routinely view as ‘credible’ sources who work for political operatives? Did the FBI do any due diligence on his employer, Fusion GPS? Were you aware it is an opposition-research firm? If not, why not?

• Mr. Steele by his own admission briefed the press on the dossier in the fall of 2016, to harm the Trump campaign, although the FBI ordered him not to. Are these the actions of a ‘credible’ source? The sourcing in these articles—particularly one that ran in Yahoo News—was hard to mistake. Yet the FBI soon after assured the FISA court that its ‘credible’ source had not spoken to the media. Either the FBI failed to follow up on the stories, or it did and Mr. Steele lied to your agents. Which is it?

• You say you knew the dossier was funded by a ‘Democrat-aligned’ group but that you ‘never knew’ which one. Why not? Didn’t the FBI have a duty to find out?

• Please explain the extraordinary accommodations the FBI provided Team Clinton during the email investigation. Why was Cheryl Mills —whose emails suggest she had early knowledge of the irregular server as Mrs. Clinton’s chief of staff—allowed to claim attorney-client privilege and represent Mrs. Clinton at her interview? Why did that interview happen only at the end? Especially since you say any case hung entirely on her ‘intent’?”

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