To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle.
--- George Orwell

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Some Of Us Saw The Russia Collusion Hoax For What It Actually Was --- Fully Two Years Ago

Rolling Stone contributor Matt Taibbi has the best dissection of just what a debacle the Russia collusion hoax represents for the media, calling it “this generation's WMD." The reference was to the faulty reporting about the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein was said to have possessed, which propelled the US-led invasion. That Iraq War "faceplant," as Taibbi calls what many consider the worst journalistic failures of all time, damaged the media's reputation. "Russiagate just destroyed it."  

Meanwhile, it should be noted that some of us actually saw the Russia collusion narrative for what it was from the get-go---a last-ditch, evidence-free effort launched just before the Trump Inauguration to nullify the 2016 election. The collusion narrative surfaced at a time when emotions were on overdrive after the Trump victory, Joshua Phillip of the Epoch Times noted in April 2017. As Phillip writes: 

The 2016 elections were hard on most Americans, to say the least, but they were especially difficult for Democrats, who were told up to Election Day that Trump stood no chance against Clinton—only to watch this fade away on election night. And they were told again that the electoral college could flip its vote and Clinton would still have a shot, only to again be disappointed.

Many major news outlets, meanwhile, have hunkered down on the idea that the Trump presidency is not legitimate, and the Russia probe has become their last bastion against Trump.
This has led to a style of reporting that has blown many findings out of proportion, and that has failed to put information into its accurate context. At the same time, many of the ongoing controversies are based not on new evidence, but instead on new comments about old evidence.

“There is a huge disparity between the amount of evidence that is cited in news stories and the charges—they’re overcharging, if there is any evidence at all,” said William McGowan, author of the books “Coloring the News” and “Gray Lady Down” and a former editor at Washington Monthly who has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and other national news organizations.

McGowan said that while he’s not a fan of Trump’s antagonistic style, he has found the coverage and commentary on Trump to be “strikingly biased, and much more successful at expressing fear and loathing than in encouraging an understanding of the man and his movement.”
He noted that in their coverage, many news outlets take the road of misquoting Trump, then using the misquotes to denounce him. As an example, McGowan cited a video in which Trump allegedly—as The New York Times put it in their headline—”calls on Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails.”
The press conference video is widely cited by major news outlets as evidence that Trump was tied to WikiLeaks’ releasing of stolen emails from the Clinton campaign.

Taken in context, however, Trump’s statement was very different from how it has been framed. At the time of the press conference on July 27, 2016, WikiLeaks had already started releasing the stolen emails, and news outlets were already trying to accuse Trump of being tied to the leaks. Trump condemned Russia’s actions, saying, “Russia has no respect for our country,” and said that if a foreign government was behind the leaks, it was a “total sign of disrespect for our country.”

Reporters continued to press Trump about the leaks, however, and continued to accuse him of being involved—without evidence. Trump then responded, “What do I have to get involved with Putin for?”, and then accused the reporters of bias and double standards, asking them why they weren’t similarly holding Clinton accountable for her missing emails. He then stated, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

News outlets then began widely circulating clips of Trump’s ending statement to allege he called on Russia to hack Clinton.

McGowan said, “What you have is a shred of a statement or utterance, and the media takes a huge leap from that.”

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