Accuracy in Media

The New York Times attempted Friday to obfuscate and normalize the fact that the FBI sent an emissary to monitor foreign policy operatives on the 2016 Trump campaign.

That they allege he did nothing improper and try to make a nomenclatural distinction between an “informant” vs a “spy” doesn’t mean he was not a spy or engaging in some type of spying.

In an editorial headlined “The FBI Informant Who Wasn’t Spying,” the Wall Street Journal editorial board called out the Times article for trying to defend the FBI’s unprecedented behavior.

“We’ll let readers parse that casuistic distinction, which is part of a campaign by the FBI and Justice Department to justify their refusal to turn over to the House Intelligence Committee documents related to the informant,” the Journal wrote. “Justice and the FBI claim this Capitol Hill oversight would blow the cover of this non-spy and even endanger his life. Yet these same stories have disclosed so many specific details about the informant whom we dare not call a spy that you can discover the name of the likeliest suspect in a single Google search.”

WSJ accurately pointed out the double standard and the potential chilling effect that embedding an FBI informant might have on a free and open democracy.

“This ought to disturb anyone who wants law enforcement and U.S. intelligence services to stay out of partisan politics,” the Journal wrote. “We can’t recall a similar case, even in the J. Edgar Hoover days, when the FBI decided it needed to snoop on a presidential campaign. Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence Chairman, is seeking documents to learn exactly what happened, what triggered this FBI action, and how it was justified. This is precisely the kind of oversight that Congress should provide to assure Americans that their government isn’t spying illegally.

But the same people who lionized Edward Snowden for stealing secrets about metadata — which collected phone numbers, not names — claim the FBI informant is no big deal.

James Clapper, Barack Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, claims it was even a “good thing” that the FBI was monitoring the campaign for Russian influence.

Forgive us if we don’t trust Mr. Clapper, who leaked details related to the notorious Steele dossier to the press, as a proper judge of such snooping. Would he and the press corps be so blasé if the FBI under George W. Bush had sought to insinuate sources with Obama supporters like Rev. Jeremiah Wright or radical Bill Ayers during the 2008 campaign?”

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