Accuracy in Media

It’s a threat to the security of the Republic and an unconscionable insult to the men and women of senior federal law enforcement, but if Republicans must release the memo on Obama administration spying on President Trump and his team from before the election until after he took office, they should include the underlying documentation.

“We’ll see if this really happens,” tweeted investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald. “But releas[ing] the memo without the underlying substantiation is worthless. It’ll just be a pile of unverifiable Devin Nunes assertions. It only has value if the claimed evidence to substantiate those assertions can be publicly reviewed.”

Jefferson Morley of Alternet took up that case in a piece published at Salon that lays out the mainstream media’s smear campaign against the memo. They can’t stop it from coming out, and they know from having read it the contents are bad for the left. So the effort now is to make it seem unsubstantiated, political and an attack on law enforcement.

“There’s no reason to object to the publication of what amounts to a Republican Party press release, even if it is filled with selectively declassified factoids intended to smear U.S. law enforcement,” Morley wrote. “The posturing of the ‘Blue Lives Matter’ crowd charging that the FBI is a cockpit of Clintonian liberalism is worth exposing. (The authors of the memo will not even let the FBI respond to its allegations).

“Release the memo, and we’ll see just how ludicrous it is.”

FBI director Christopher Wray read the memo on Sunday, and there is some speculation the departure of deputy director Neil McCabe the next day was related to Wray’s review of the document. But the FBI is the accused here. Allowing it to cover its vulnerabilities before the document is released defeats its purpose.

Morley pointed out that Rep. Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.), ranking member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told the Washington Post he offered a motion to delay the release of the memo until all members had read the underlying top-secret documentation.

“The Republicans refused” the stalling tactic, he wrote, “a strong indicator that their case cannot withstand scrutiny.”

The National Security and the FBI “are loath to expose and explain to the American people how the system of mass surveillance actually works,” he said. “They can’t publicly defend the process and that, despite its implications for democracy, “it must remain hidden from the American people.”

So demagogues, he said, “use official secrecy to distort democratic debate. Defenders of the FBI and NSA say the confidentiality of the ongoing investigation should be respected, while Trump supporters spin conspiracy theories about the Deep State.”

Given the text released recently that had Peter Strzok, the anti-Trump FBI agent at the center of the subterfuge, that “my gut sense and concern (that) there’s no big there there” to the Trump investigation, it is becoming increasingly clear the demagogues who use secrecy to distort democratic debate are not the Trump supporters but the “defenders of the FBI and NSA.”

Meanwhile, Greg Sargent of the Washington Post tried to keep the “constitutional crisis” line alive.

“The Sunday shows confirmed an alarming development: Republicans in Congress do not feel any urgency to protect special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, even though it has now been confirmed that President Trump tried to fire Mueller – and that the possibility of Trump trying to remove Mueller is seen as very real by Trump’s own advisers right now.” [emphasis in original]

This could take us into “territory that is beyond anything this country endured during Watergate.

‘”We are two tweets away from an extraordinary constitutional crisis,’” he quotes Tim Weiner, a left-leaning journalist.  

It’s worse than Watergate, Weiner said, because “the Nunes memo shows there is a massive propaganda apparatus out there – one that reaches deep into the right-wing media and into the Congress that has been pushing the alt-narrative and would back up Trump if he does take drastic steps – that didn’t really exist in Nixon’s time.”




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