The media often hype President Trump’s skepticism toward the intelligence community, painting him as corrosive to democratic norms because he has been outspokenly critical of the clandestine services’ unprecedented skepticism toward him. The New York Times’ Julian E. Barnes and Michael S. Schmidt recently wrote about President Trump’s approach to his intelligence security briefings and the broader intelligence community and failed to mention the unprecedented level of bias shown against Trump by members of American spy services.
“Intelligence officials have always adapted their briefings to the needs and interests of the current president,” writes The Times. “But they have never faced a challenge like Mr. Trump, who by virtue of his background and experience, views the intelligence agencies with deep skepticism … Two weeks before Mr. Trump took office, the top intelligence chiefs — including the heads of the F.B.I., the C.I.A. and the N.S.A. — briefed Mr. Trump and his team at Trump Tower on the agencies’ findings that Russia was behind the election meddling. The issue was a touchy matter; Mr. Trump saw any evidence that Russia helped get him elected as an attack on his legitimacy. After the briefing, the F.B.I. director at the time, James B. Comey, pulled Mr. Trump aside. Mr. Comey told the president that the bureau was given a dossier that showed the Russians may have compromising information on him. The disclosure unnerved Mr. Trump and deepened his suspicions of the intelligence community.”
The Times fails to mention that the Steele dossier was an unverified and sloppy piece of research funded by a partisan political operation–the Hillary Clinton campaign. As Marcy Wheeler wrote last year, “The dossier may be worse than just uncorroborated. In an op-ed this week, former CIA officer Daniel Hoffman wrote that the near misses in the dossier bore the mark of Russian disinformation, ‘accurate basic facts provided as bait to convince Americans that the fake info is real.’”
The Times also failed to mention the unprecedented venom directed at President Trump by former intelligence officials like John Brennan and Peter Strzok, who were ostensibly supposed to serve the commander-in-chief, regardless of their partisan ideology.
“It’s not fashionable to put yourself in Trump’s shoes, but if the Steele dossier was inaccurate but presented to Trump anyway, it’s not irrational for him to have some skepticism of intel community going forward,” wrote Daily Caller reporter Chuck Ross on Twitter in response to the Times piece.