Accuracy in Media

Fearful of damage to the Robert Mueller investigation, mainstream media outlets have been working overtime to discredit an unreleased memo that alleges widespread corruption by the FBI and Department of Justice designed to undermine the presidency of Donald Trump.

Talking Points Memo essentially called Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) a liar in a story about Johnson releasing further emails between FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page that detailed a “secret society” meeting to undermine Trump.

The Washington Post broke a story that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, called for an investigation into whether Russian bots were keeping the hashtag #ReleaseTheMemo trending on Twitter.

The memo, written by the Intelligence Committee’s Republican staff and based on thousands of documents and dozens of interviews, reportedly outlines how the FBI and Department of Justice mischaracterized evidence to secure warrants to spy on the Trump campaign, transition operation and administration.

The committee voted to let all members of the House read it. Republicans characterized the accusations in the memo as deeply troubling, possibly illegal and perhaps fatal to the Mueller investigation, suggesting as it does deep bias and agreements to work together to undermine the president. The committee since has voted to begin the process of declassifying the information in the memo so it can be released to the public. All Republicans voted in favor of the measure; all Democrats against.

The media has worked overtime to run interference for the Democrats.

“Sen. Ron Johnson said Tuesday that the missing text messages between two FBI officials is just further evidence of ‘corruption’ within the FBI and claimed without evidence that top-level agency officials held ‘secret society’ meetings off-site after the election,” the TPM story began.

Actually, the senator had done the opposite. Johnson said sources have told Congress this. He did not make a claim; he offered evidence.

“Johnson also made similar baseless claims about the Department of Justice,” TPM continued. “’There are similar individuals highly biased, political operatives burrowed into the Department of Justice as well,’” TPM quotes Johnson as saying.

It then takes on the matter of the missing texts. Page and Strzok reportedly exchanged more than 50,000 texts, but all but a few hundred of them have been “lost,” the FBI reported earlier this week. The story acknowledges the texts appear to show the pair called Trump an “idiot,” were openly for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election and knew ahead of time she’d never be charged over her home server and hidden emails.

But it concludes: “Trump and other Republicans are using the texts to hold a candle to their accusations of bias within the FBI, a phenomenon the president has been fueling since he fired former FBI Director James Comey last spring.” It’s unclear what that means, but it appears to say nothing FBI agents said to each other about having a plan to bring down a sitting and duly elected president seems to matter.

The Post helped Democrats turn the story, yet again, to Russia-Russia-Russia.

“’If these reports are accurate, we are witnessing an ongoing attack by the Russian government through Kremlin-linked social media actors directly acting to intervene and influence our democratic process,’” it quotes Feinstein and Schiff in their letter to Facebook and Twitter.

The Post story then explains the claim of Russian interference comes from a group whose liberal bias it does not identify. The group, it says, tracks 600 accounts that it contends “echo or otherwise support Russian influence efforts, though in some cases … unwittingly.”  Many of the accounts echo the themes but are not “put forth by Russian government media.”

Which means if one Russian bot tweets something that conservative groups across the US also tweeted, all those conservative groups are acting – wittingly or unwittingly – in furtherance of Russian government disinformation goals and the information discounted accordingly.

Democrat lawmakers also demanded Twitter and Facebook report back by Friday and shut down any accounts “found in violation of company policies.” 

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