Accuracy in Media

The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple called on CNN to come clean about its inaccurate reporting about the Steele dossier and the accusations it made about coordination between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia prior to the 2016 election.
When Wemple asked CNN about the dossier reports the network responded, saying, “We stand by our reporting.”
CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota told Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) in December 2017 that “Your intel community has corroborated all the details.” referring to report compiled by former British intelligence official Christopher Steele. In addition to Camerota Wemple noted that other CNN reporters stated that “parts” or “much” of the dossier — which claimed an “extensive conspiracy” between the Trump campaign and Russia prior to the 2016 presidential election — had been corroborated.
The problem with the corroboration of statements by CNN anchors and reporters was that Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz’s inspection didn’t corroborate the dossier and had this finding: “The FBI concluded, among other things, that although consistent with known efforts by Russia to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections, much of the material in the Steele election reports, including allegations about Donald Trump and members of the Trump campaign relied upon in the Carter Page FISA applications, could not be corroborated; that certain allegations were inaccurate or inconsistent with information gathered by the Crossfire Hurricane team; and that the limited information that was corroborated related to time, location, and title information, much of which was publicly available.”
The full statement to the Post’s Erik Wemple Blog said,  “CNN stands by our reporting. Our approach to the dossier has been consistent since day one. CNN only reported details when they were corroborated, part of a government filing, or publicly discussed by officials or those mentioned.”

If that wasn’t enough to debunk CNN’s reporting, Wemple pointed out a report by CNN correspondent Evan Perez on the link between the dossier and Special counsel Robert S. Mueller’s investigation on October 6, 2017:

Now we don’t know what information Steele may provide to Mueller’s team, but we do know that Steele has previously provided the FBI with some information to try to verify some of the sources that he used to put together the dossier.
We’re also learning that late last year top officials at the FBI, and the CIA, and the Director of National Intelligence actually discussed including parts of the Steele dossier in the official intelligence document on Russian meddling.
Sources tell us that the intelligence community didn’t want to include it because they didn’t want to explain what parts of the dossier that they had been able to corroborate. And they also were concerned about revealing sources and methods that they had used to do so.
So, while the President Trump calls the dossier a hoax, it appears that his intelligence agencies have a vastly different view.

That does not square with Horowitz’s report which said that the intelligence agencies didn’t even have a unified “view” on including the dossier in the Mueller report.

The CIA, for example, had doubts according to the Horowitz report:
According to the Intel Section Chief and Supervisory Intel Analyst, as the interagency editing process for the ICA progressed, the CIA expressed concern about using the Steele election reporting in the text of the ICA. The Supervisory Intel Analyst explained that the CIA believed that the Steele election reporting was not completely vetted and did not merit inclusion in the body of the report. The Intel Section Chief stated that the CIA viewed it as “internet rumor.”

Wemple concludes:

The final assessment relegated an abridgment of the dossier to an appendix. To keep its distance from the document, then-Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. issued a statement saying that the intelligence community “has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions.” In their famous Jan. 6, 2017, briefing with Trump at Trump Tower, the intelligence chiefs presented their findings on Russian meddling, followed by a session focused on the dossier with Trump and then-FBI Director James B. Comey. In a subsequent appearance on Fox News, author and investigative reporter Bob Woodward said, “That is a garbage document. It never should have been presented as part of an intelligence briefing.”

Woodward, who knows a thing or two about presidential conspiracies, deserves credit for bucking the liberal mindset and blasting the dossier, unlike CNN, which hired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who lobbied for the inclusion of the dossier in the Mueller report.




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