Accuracy in Media

Some Republicans contend – with considerable evidence – that members of the Obama administration participated in a plan to undermine President Trump by making it look as if he had nefarious ties to Russia.

The president has begun to press the case through attorneys by declassifying documents. And the media, in turn, have begun to argue against transparency, against government turning over documents that could expose the biggest political scandal in American history.

Politico took the most direct approach with its story, “Democrats fear Trump ‘October Surprise’ document dump” by Kyle Cheney.

The subhead tells it all: “Democrats worry that Trump and his allies are teeing up a series of document releases meant to gin up GOP voters before the midterms.”

“Democratic operatives are growing anxious that Republicans working to undermine the FBI’s Russia probe are teeing up a series of document dumps meant to gin up GOP voters ahead of the midterm elections.”

This assumes the only purpose in Republicans’ requesting the documents is to undermine the probe. It did not mention Trump has sought the release of many of these documents for more than a year – long before they would have had any impact on the midterms.

Cheney mocked the idea of the American people knowing what their government is up to.

“The White House and GOP leaders cited ‘transparency’ as their motive, and Trump has suggested the documents will show anti-Trump bias in the FBI led the bureau to supercharge its 2016 Russia probe based on flimsy evidence.”

Democrats are on to them, Cheney wrote.

They “see a more sinister plan: to taint special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing Russia probe, while simultaneously motivating Trump’s political base on the precipice of an election in which Democrats are favored to make gains,” the story states.

“To Democrats, the situation has eerie similarities to 2016, when WikiLeaks’ slow-drip daily release of internal Clinton campaign emails hobbled Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and offered regular fodder for Republicans.”

Republicans were not responsible for the Wikileaks revelations, and Cheney offers no explanation for why voters should not be informed one candidate turned the entire Democratic Party apparatus against her opponent to assure victory.

Instead, he lets Jennifer Palmieri, Hillary Clinton’s communications director, attack the credibility of the leaks unchallenged.

“Oh, God,” he quotes her as saying. “Trump could be setting the stage for the same kind of manufactured October surprise designed to help boost his standing and undermine Mueller.”

He then seeks to undermine whatever information may come out.

The documents Trump ordered released without redaction, which include the application to spy on Carter Page, transcripts of FBI interviews with Trump campaign aides and former FBI director James Comey’s text messages about the Russia probe, “are likely to feed theories that the Russia investigation was launched on false pretenses, even if many find few revealing details in the newly public pages.”

The pages haven’t been released yet, so Cheney can’t know what theories they’re likely to feed or how many details will be revealed.

Cheney later attacks Trump because he “inserted himself into the ongoing process repeatedly, both through his rhetoric and his decisions to declassify sensitive documents over the objections of law enforcement leaders.” He does not mention that these law enforcement leaders are the very people Trump and his allies suspect of launching the Russia probe on false pretenses.

Finally, Cheney tried to discredit a key finding of the congressional probe – text messages between fired FBI agent Peter Strzok and his paramour Lisa Page that talked of a ’secret society’ of FBI officials – a comment initially trumpeted by Trump’s GOP allies as evidence of a conspiracy, but later determined to be made in jest.”

No such determination has been made.

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