Accuracy in Media

A lot of myths pushed for years by mainstream media got blown up with publication of the Department of Justice’s Inspector General report on the origins of the investigation into President Donald Trump and his 2016 campaign – chief among them that the Steele dossier, paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, did not form the basis for the counterintelligence investigation into Trump that led to the Mueller probe and report.

And in a rare moment of clarity, some even owned up to it. Appearing on MSNBC, Michael Isikoff, who wrote articles and even books alleging extensive contact between the Trump presidential campaign and Russians and was one of the first to write about the Trump dossier – all of which has turned out to be false – admitted he had played a part in pushing the narrative.

“The dossier did set expectations and it did shape what people were looking for and thought might have happened,” Isikoff said. “It was endorsed multiple, multiple times on this network, and people were saying it’s more and more proving to be true – and it wasn’t. And, in fact, I think one of the reasons people were so surprised by the Mueller finding is that it undercuts almost everything that was in the dossier which postulated a well-developed conspiracy between the Russians and the Trump campaign.

“That’s what got people worked up initially, and we do have to acknowledge that which was alleged has not panned out. “

Hayes responded that, in fact, the dossier postulates “both a well-coordinated conspiracy with the Russians but a back-and-forth actively between Trump world and the Russians. And that’s the introduction of the notion of what happened that, I think you’re right, set the framework.”

Isikoff then asks to make one more point.

“A lot of this was … we could have … we did see … some of us did see just in the court filings Mueller was making,” he said.

“Take the Roger Stone indictment. Everybody got all worked up about the fact that the Trump campaign was trying to use Stone to find out what Wikileaks had. Well, go back to what the original allegation was in the dossier. It was that it was all a well-developed conspiracy that the Trump campaign was in on from the beginning.  Which means they wouldn’t have needed Roger Stone to find out what Wikileaks had. If the allegations in the dossier are true, they already knew what they were. But those allegations were not true.”

Techno Fog, a Twitter account run by a lawyer that has nearly 97,000 followers, published a thread calling out other reporters. “WaPo reporter @shaneharris has been lying to the public this whole time,” it begins, above a tweet from Harris on Jan. 11, 2018, that read “Yes. I am telling you the dossier was not used as the basis for a FISA warrant on Carter Page.”

It hit Jonah Goldberg, a Trump critic, for tweeting “Actually, it’s not subjective whatsoever. More than one FISA Court Judge issued actual warrants after reviewing intelligence collected from Page surveillance that had nothing to do with the Steele dossier.”

It hit Daniel Dale, the CNN fact-checker, for claiming the dossier “wasn’t ‘falsely submitted’ to the FISA court,” as President Trump had claimed in an earlier tweet.

It “presented without comment” a tweet from Jen Rubin of the Washingotn Post that read: “did @LindsayGrahamSC even read the FISA application? Why would he say it largely relied on Steele dossier. That is FALSE.”

It also hit Ryan Goodman, co-editor-in-chief of Just Security. “BAM,” Goodman’s tweet read. “#DemMemo: ‘In subsequent FISA renewals, DOJ provided additional information obtained through MULTIPLE INDEPENDENT sources that corroborated Steele’s reporting.’ –now let’s stop saying Steele dossier has not been corroborated by FBI.”

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