Regardless of the implications for national security, the mainstream media is almost refusing to focus on the alleged spy identified as a high-ranking member of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) staff.
So far, stories that dealt with the meat of the matter – that Feinstein, leading Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has been infiltrated for more than two decades by a Chinese spy who worked in her San Francisco office – have been found almost exclusively on conservative websites.
Mainstream sites, such as CNN and USA Today, have focused on Trump’s tweets about the matter and how that reflects on him and the senator.
The Federalist, a conservative site, typified coverage from the right with its “Reports: Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Personal Driver for 20 Years Was a Chinese Spy” by Bre Payton.
The story reported that the alleged spy worked for Feinstein as a driver and attended official functions on her behalf for 20 years. She had no idea, according to the story, and was “mortified” when the FBI showed up at her Washington office five years ago to warn about the mole. Payton reported Feinstein forced the driver to resign and did not tell her staff about the incident.
Feinstein chaired the intelligence committee for some of those two decades and had access to “classified intelligence that would be extremely valuable to the Chinese government.”
But CNN headlined its story, “Trump and Feinstein spar over reports of alleged Chinese spying,” and USA Today headlined its story “Trump mocks Senator Feinstein following reports an alleged Chinese spy worked for her,” elevating the reaction from the president above the critical security implications.
“President Donald Trump took aim at the investigation into Russian election meddling Saturday evening at an Ohio rally, then seemed to compare the two-year probe to a report about an alleged Chinese spy that worked for Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein,” USA Today’s story, by Christal Hayes, began.
“’Speaking of China, it just out that the Democratic leader and the leader of the Russia investigation, Dianne Feinstein, had a Chinese spy as her driver for 20 years!” Trump told the crowd. “And she’s leading the Russian investigation if that’s what you call it. How about she’s leading the Russia witch hunt!”
CNN’s story, by Clare Foran and Steve Brusk, attacked Trump’s credibility by identifying a key falsehood.
“At a rally in Ohio on Saturday night, the president claimed that Feinstein ‘had a Chinese spy as her driver for years,’” Foran and Brusk wrote. “Trump also said incorrectly that Feinstein, who is the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is ‘the leader of the Russia investigation.’”
In fact, her daily involvement in it did not make her the leader of the investigation, CNN reported. The “several committees” looking into the matter are chaired by Republicans.
The story also reported that Politico, which broke the story in a larger story about spying on the West Coast, said the spy reported only on local politics and that no Feinstein staffer in California has ever had a security clearance.
The San Francisco Chronicle wrote that there was nothing to worry about here at all in “Feinstein had a Chinese spy connection she didn’t know about – her driver” by Matier & Ross. He simply drove her around when she was in California and “served as a gofer in her San Francisco office.”
The staffer had gone home to China to see relatives and “was befriended by someone who continued to stay in touch with him on subsequent visits. “’He didn’t even know what was happening – that he was being recruited,’” the Chronicle’s anonymous source said. “’He just thought it as some friend.’”
The FBI “apparently concluded the driver hadn’t revealed anything of substance,” the Chronicle reported. “’They interviewed him, and Dianne forced him to retire, and that was the end of it,’ says our source. ‘None of her staff ever knew what was going on. They just kept it quiet.’”