Accuracy in Media

There has been no shortage of articles in the mainstream media in recent days condemning President Donald Trump’s decision to part ways with Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and replace him with John Ratcliffe, a Republican congressman from Texas.

The pieces said Coats was invaluable because of his ability to “speak truth to power” in his conversations with the president and that Ratcliffe, who was mayor a town of 8,000 people when he was elected to Congress, does not have sufficient experience in the intelligence field to lead America’s intel agencies.

But Ratcliffe was a U.S. Attorney who specialized in terrorism investigations and has joined every committee and subcommittee in the House that deals in any way with intelligence, homeland security or international law enforcement.

Articles suggest Ratcliffe is not ready and that he would not have been picked but for his performance in the Mueller hearings, when he forced the special counsel to acknowledge there is no precedent or place in Department of Justice policy for a special counsel to say someone will not be charged but is not exonerated.

But there’s another aspect to the coverage that has proven staying power among anti-Trump media – the effort to discredit the whole notion that America’s intelligence community may have conspired with intel officials from elsewhere to concoct charges against President Trump, entrap him and his campaign aides and cripple or end his presidency with false charges and innuendo.

“Ratcliffe has promoted the view that the FBI, in its investigation of the Trump-Russia scandal, has been a ‘terror,’ and he has fueled the conspiracy theories of the paranoid right that claim a supposed Deep State cabal cooked up the Russia investigation in an effort to keep Trump out of the White House and thwart his presidency,” wrote David Corn in Mother Jones under the headline, “Trump Rewards Conspiracy theorist With Key National Security Job” – subhead: “John Ratcliffe has fueled the right’s Deep State paranoia.”

Corn, a leading supporter of the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory that Mueller’s investigation did disprove, wrote that Ratcliffe, “via tweets and appearances on Fox News, has tried to give credence to the alternative narrative that the real [emphasis his] scandal is not the Russian attack on the 2016 election that was mounted to help Trump, but the FBI’s investigation of all this.”

He noted that Ratcliffe’s Twitter over the last year included “no posts condemning the Russians, questioning the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russia during the 2016 attack, or criticizing Trump’s refusal to fully acknowledge that Moscow intervened in the election,” but that there were “loads of tweets focused on the favorite (and factually challenged) contention of the right that the intelligence community started the Russia investigation not because it was concerned the Kremlin was trying to subvert an American election but, rather, because it wanted to prevent Trump from becoming president.”

That notion the FBI would work with others to prevent Trump from winning the election or, failing that, taking office, is backed up by, among other things, texts among FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page saying “there is no there there” with respect to Trump’s wrongdoing and talking of “insurance policies” to keep Trump from winning or serving, and use of an uncorroborated dossier of accusations paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign to open the investigation.

Strzok has been fired, Page has left the FBI, more than 20 other former high-ranking FBI and Department of Justice employees have been removed from their posts as part of the investigation of the investigators, and Attorney General William Barr will start releasing declassified documents as early as today that will shed further light on this.

Corn said the theory the investigation was launched out of accusations lodged in the Steele dossier “is bunk,” and that the investigation actually started when George Papadopoulos, a low-level campaign aide to Trump, told an Australian diplomat Moscow had thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails and was planning to let Trump use them against her. Papadopoulos says he was set up, and the documents Barr is about to release will prove him right.

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