Accuracy in Media

Mainstream media reported that disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok won the day during his contentious hearing on Capitol Hill – mostly because it failed to do its homework.

The Washington Post hailed Strzok as a tough talker whose commitment to the truth had gotten support from Democrats on the committees.

“In a hearing filled with theatrics, Strzok was alternately praised for his impassioned defense of the bureau against accusations of partisanship and berated for his scathing text messages about then-presidential candidate Trump to former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom Strzok was having an affair at the time,” the Post wrote.

“Through it all, Strzok emerged as a largely unflappable, if unlikely, champion of the very bureau that removed him from his role in the Russia investigation last July.”

It wasn’t the FBI that removed Strzok from the investigation. It was Special Counsel Robert Mueller who ordered him off the case because of incendiary emails that cast Strzok as biased against President Trump and willing to take action to prevent him from taking office.

Although he was subpoenaed, the Post wrote that Strzok voluntarily sought the hearing “in an effort to clear his name, to defend the bureau’s political neutrality, making note of the various layers of supervisors and analysts involved in its work.

“‘They would not tolerate any improper behavior in me, any more than I would tolerate it in them. That is who we are as the FBI,’” Strzok is quoted as saying.

The story then quoted a Democratic congressman saying the hearing was “not even meritorious of an investigation by Ace Ventura, pet detective, let alone 75 members of the United States Congress” before informing us again how unflappable Strzok was throughout.

“Strzok kept his composure even as the sparring veered from the partisan to the personal,” the Post wrote.

Vox offered an “explainer” on the hearings headlined, “The FBI agent accused of political bias defended himself in a raucous hearing.”

The lead read: “For months, FBI agent Peter Strzok has had a starring role in President Donald Trump’s preferred narrative that the Russia investigation is a deep-state witch hunt that’s biased against him. But on Thursday, Stzok testified for hours at a congressional hearing and gave his side of the story for the first time – and what a hearing it was.”

Vox said Strzok was there to rehabilitate his image, and it offered some help in this regard.

“Strzok was a highly regarded agent with a very good reputation – but he had a secret,” Vox wrote. And yes, they exchanged virulently anti-Trump texts. But “FBI agents are of course allowed to have their own opinions about politics, through writing them out on work devices and intermingling them with discussion of the sensitive investigations involving those political figures doesn’t really look great.”

It brings up something that became a significant problem for Strzok during the hearing, but which few in the mainstream media have acknowledged. The problem involves a text exchange between Strzok and Page from August 2016.

Vox wrote: “Page expressed fear that Trump will win the presidency, and Strzok answers, ‘No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.’ If by ‘we’ Strzok meant the FBI – which had opened its investigation into the Trump campaign’s Russia ties just over a week earlier – that poses the question of whether Strzok hoped to impact the election through his work.”

The hearing opened with Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-SC, chairman of the Oversight Committee, asking Strzok how many people he interviewed in the first eight days of the investigation. Strzok evades and refuses to answer the question on grounds the investigation is still ongoing, even though he has been off of it for months now.

Later, the FBI having apparently advised Strzok he could answer the question, but he again evaded it. The detail is critical. If a week into the investigation, he is telling Page “We’ll stop it,” and he hasn’t interviewed anyone yet, it becomes clear bias did or could enter into whom he decided to interview and how those interviews were conducted.

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