Washington Examiner: Of the many disturbing examples of media malpractice in the Trump era, none are so alarming as the press’s unswerving deference to current and former members of the intelligence community. They can be perjurers, power abusers, perhaps even killers-by-drone, but as long as they oppose President Trump, they can expect journalists to give them a sympathetic ear.
For partisan operatives such as former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan, both of whom lied to Congress under oath about consequential matters, media coverage has never been so friendly.
Politico’s Natasha Bertrand and Daniel Lippman for example, authored a report this week that claimed, of all things, that “Brennan has not been accused of lying to Congress.”
This is astonishing and easily disproven. Politico quietly corrected it with no editor’s note, probably because its editors felt so stupid for having let it slip through.
This came in the broader context of reporting that White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said recently, “John Brennan lied before Congress when he got caught spying” on Americans. What Gidley said is absolutely true. Brennan spied on members of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, lied about it before Congress, and was later caught in his own lies.
Worse still, Brennan got away with it, and he has reinvented himself as a general in the #Resistance army for which he now enjoys a cushy career as a media pundit and a rehabilitated public image thanks to journalists who are either ignorant or in on it.
It would be one thing if Politico’s shilling for Brennan represented a lone example of a media error favoring an anti-Trump voice from the intelligence community. But it is not. Increasingly, newsrooms are conducting public relations for the intelligence community, repeating statements from known liars such as Brennan as fact without applying even minimal scrutiny.
Clapper, for example, is largely responsible for the bogus “17 intelligence agencies said Russia was behind the hacking” news cycle. He corrected the record later when put under oath. He probably didn’t want to tempt fate with another opportunity for a perjury prosecution. Clapper also told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that there was no FISA application involving Trump or his campaign, sparking yet another round of “bombshell” news headlines. This also turned out to be a lie. And Todd never once asked Clapper to explain himself.
Journalist Matt Taibbi explored the disturbing trend of media’s elevation of the intelligence community in the Trump era this year, following the implosion of the Russian “collusion” news cycle. It had been kept alive for more than two years by journalists consistently repeating all sorts of faulty tips and leaks from supposed intelligence operatives.
“Being on any team is a bad look for the press, but the press being on team FBI/CIA is an atrocity, Trump or no Trump. Why bother having a press corps at all if you’re going to go that route?” he asked, referring accurately to the lion’s share of bogus “collusion” reporting as “slavish stenography.”
Taibbi added, “This posture has all been couched as anti-Trump solidarity, but really, did former CIA chief John Brennan … need the press to whine on his behalf when Trump yanked his security clearance? Did we need the press to hum Aretha Franklin tunes, as ABC did, and chide Trump for lacking R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the CIA? We don’t have better things to do than that ‘work’?”
He also made this obvious point: There is no reason on God’s green Earth for why a reporter should take an intelligence official at their word, especially if it is a known liar such as Clapper or Brennan. And yet there is a mountain of such examples, and they all seem to point in one direction politically.
–by Becket Adams