Jeff Gerth’s investigation for The Columbia Journalism Review exposes the dark heart of the news media’s coverage of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.
By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News
In the autumn of 1973, Jack Anderson, the wonderful iconoclast of the Washington press corps, published a syndicated column revealing that a Hearst Newspapers reporter had spied on Democratic presidential candidates in the service of Richard Nixon’s 1972 reelection campaign.
At the time of Anderson’s column, Seymour Frieden was a Hearst correspondent in London. Anderson also reported, not quite in passing, but nearly, that Frieden tacitly acknowledged working for the Central Intelligence Agency.
Anderson’s column was as a pebble tossed in a pond. The ripples grew, if slowly at first.
William Colby, the C.I.A.’s recently named director, responded with a standard agency maneuver: When news is going to break against you, disclose the minimum, bury the rest, and maintain control of what we now call “the narrative.”
Colby “leaked” to a Washington Star–News reporter named Oswald Johnston. The paper fronted Johnston’s piece on Nov. 30, 1973. “The Central Intelligence Agency,” it began, “has some three dozen American journalists working abroad on its payroll as undercover informants, some of them full-time agents, the Star–News has learned.”
Johnston followed this four-square lead just as Colby had wished. “Colby is understood to have ordered the termination of this handful of journalist-agents,” he wrote further down in his report, adding — and this is the truly delightful part — “on the full realization that C.I.A. employment of reporters in a nation which prides itself on an independent press is a subject fraught with controversy.”
Johnston broke a big story. Johnston was a patsy. This was the agency’s “tradecraft” in action.
As it had after Anderson’s column came out, the rest of the press let Johnston’s revelations sink without further investigation. Nobody in the mainstream press wrote anything about them. But Colby’s gambit was on the way to failing, as was the press’s see-no-evil pose.
A year after the Johnston piece appeared, Stuart Loory, a former Los Angeles Times correspondent and then a journalism professor at The Ohio State University, published a piece in the Columbia Journalism Review that stands as the first extensive exploration of relations between the C.I.A. and the press.
Another year later the Church Committee, named for Frank Church, the Idaho senator who chaired it, convened. Suddenly the C.I.A. found itself where it never wanted to be: in the public eye, visible.
By the time all this was over, Carl Bernstein, the Washington Post reporter of Watergate fame, had mapped the full extent of the C.I.A.’s penetration of the press in a notable piece Rolling Stone published in 1977. By his count, Oswald Johnston’s “three dozen American journalists” came to more than 400.
Jeff Gerth’s Media Investigation
I am prompted to recount these events by the four-part series Jeff Gerth, an investigative journalist of excellent reputation, published last week. Over 24,000 words and in exceptional detail, Gerth exposed more or less all of American media’s utterly craven complicity in manufacturing out of sheer nothing all the nonsense about Donald Trump’s collusion with Russia as he ran against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
At last. Finally.
Let me put it this way. Jeff Gerth is the Stuart Loory of our time, a remover of lids under which we find reeking cess, under which we find journalists and editors knowingly, knowingly, knowingly lying, omitting, disinforming, fabricating, and covering up — all in the service of assisting Clinton by smearing her opponent even as Clinton and her husband were ass deep in their obscured and multiple complicities with various Russians.
As Glenn Greenwald remarked in a lengthy “System Update” segment reviewing the Gerth series, however much contempt you may have for the corruptions of the American press, you are not contemptuous enough.
For a long while I have held to the thought that the day may come when the American press and broadcasters would have some kind of come-to-Jesus awakening and begin a new and excellent era as a freestanding pole of power.
Gerth’s series persuades me that this is no longer a realistic expectation. Russiagate deformed the function of media, and media’s understanding of its function, beyond repair. Over the past seven years mainstream American media have come to see — embrace, indeed — their task as the conveyance of official propaganda.
We must not be so surprised or shocked. This is what happens to empires in their declining phases.
Gerth, who must be somewhere either side of 80 now and is retired, had a stumbly start in journalism. In his early days he wrote for Penthouse and other such publications and at one point got into some libel trouble that ended with an apology on his part. It was not until he worked with the great-and-still-at-it Sy Hersh that he found his feet in the Great Craft. A 30–year career at The New York Times followed, during which he proved himself again and again as a digger, a finder, an exposer, altogether a truth-teller.
We must be grateful Gerth got off his sofa or off the golf course to report and write these four pieces, an undertaking CJR tells us extended over a year and a half. The entire series is headlined “Looking back on the coverage of Trump” and can be read here. CJR’s editors have graciously published it without a paywall.
Nation on Edge
I love Gerth’s opener, in part because I so well remember the moment. He starts in July 2019, when the vaunted special investigation into Trump’s alleged doings with Russia was about to conclude. This was headed by Robert Mueller, a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation with a record of unprofessional conduct all his own. The nation seemed to be on the edge of its seat. Impeachment, indictments, trials, imprisonment — it was all going to ensue once the report was made public.
Nothing of the kind occurred, of course. Mueller came up empty-handed, though you wouldn’t have known this given the extent to which the media instantly set about blurring the report’s conclusions such that readers and viewers innocent of their rampant corruption could hardly tell what had been found and concluded.
Gerth quotes the Times’ since-retired executive editor when the news broke: “‘Holy shit, Bob Mueller is not going to do it,’ is how Dean Baquet… described the moment his paper’s readers realized Mueller was not going to pursue Trump’s ouster.” Gerth continues, “Baquet, speaking to his colleagues in a town hall meeting soon after the testimony concluded, acknowledged the Times had been caught ‘a little tiny bit flat-footed’ by the outcome of Mueller’s investigation.”
The “tiny bit flat-footed” comment is what I recall, as it was publicized. So weak-minded, as those at the top of the Times, with exceptions, have proven themselves down the years to be. So telling of how unconscious they are of themselves and what they are doing. So revealing of the paper’s eternal inability ever to acknowledge it gets anything of consequence wrong.
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But it is the “Mueller is not going to do it” that introduces us to where Gerth is going. Think about the implications of this locution, the profound, ugly subtext. As Gerth puts it, he is investigating “an undeclared war between an entrenched media and a new kind of disruptive presidency.” In this war Mueller let the troops down.
I do not know why Gerth chose to characterize the media circus of the Trump years as undeclared. Go back to the coverage of such amateur reporters as Maggie Haberman, a nepotistic hire at the Times who wouldn’t know the principle of objectivity if she bumped into it on the street. Haberman thought nothing of resorting to base ridicule of a sitting president, playground stuff.
Remember the July 2016 piece by Jim Rutenberg, the Times’ media correspondent at the time? The paper fronted it under the headline, “Trump Is Testing the Norms of Objectivity in Journalism.” “Let’s face it,” Rutenberg wrote. “Balance has been on vacation since Mr. Trump stepped onto his golden Trump Tower escalator last year to announce his candidacy.”
Open Media War
There was, in short, nothing undeclared in the media’s war against Trump the candidate and Trump the 45th president. “The damage to the credibility of the Times and its peers persists, three years on,” Gerth writes. There is no room for wonder in this. I read now that public trust in American media, now at 26 percent, is the lowest by far in the industrial world. No wonder there, either.
Undeclared or otherwise, it is media’s war not only against a president but against democratic process, America’s public institutions, American law, and public discourse altogether — the dark heart of all the Russiagate years — that makes the core of all Gerth’s pages.
It began with the generals, who were alarmed by Trump’s foreign policy platform and stood very visibly against it — open letters in the Times, speeches at the 2016 Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, and so on — all this in the name of national security.
When Democratic Party email was pilfered in mid–2016, party leaders made common cause with the national security state and set in motion the Russiagate garbage to cover up the profound embarrassments found in the mail.
By then the Obama administration, its Justice Department, “the intelligence community,” the F.B.I., and dreadful liars on Capitol Hill such as Rep. Adam Schiff, the Hollywood Democrat, had taken up active roles in the ruse.
Deep state, anyone? By any useful definition, this is how far it extends. It is as broad as it is deep.
The press and broadcasters were the third leg of this unsightly stool. And again, no cause for wonder: Have they not long and faithfully served the just-named interests?
This structure of corruption and lawlessness was plain in real time, so to say, to those among us paying close attention. The value of Gerth’s work is twofold, in my view. It lays a good deal of this out in a publication that could hardly occupy a more mainstream position in America’s media constellation. And it reveals a great deal of the quite beyond-belief-filth and duplicity of those in the press who filled thousands of pages of newsprint and thousands of hours of air time with said garbage.
Apart from the collapse of the Mueller investigation, among the other key events on which Gerth focuses is the wholly fabricated Steele Dossier and how those in the media made use of it. I consume this stuff as a professional — taking perverse delight, I confess, in reading about the disgraces of liberal journalists the way human beings are commonly fascinated by gory disasters. But let me quickly add this is fun for the whole family. There is something for everybody in it.
There is the outstandingly fun case of Franklin Foer, who was writing for Slate back when the Steele Dossier was put across as the absolutely authentic, smoking-gun document that would damn Trump, decisively and forever. We now know the Dossier was entirely nonsense, commissioned by the Hillary Clinton campaign and developed by former hacks with close ties to it.
And here we find in Gerth’s pages that our Franklin was sending his reports on the Dossier to the Clinton campaign for vetting before Slate published them, which it did after Foer had confirmed he had it right — no, wrong — to the Clintonites’ satisfaction.
See what I mean by disgraceful? See what I mean by craven? See what I mean by rubbish?
Gerth’s report on his investigations is dense with this kind of thing. The important take-home here concerns intent. All those guilty of poisoning the public sphere during the Russiagate years did so wittingly.
The corrupt were fully aware of their corruptions.
The caker in the Foer case is what happened to this punk after everything he wrote about the Dossier proved false. Banished, demoted, disgraced? Absolutely not. He is now a staff writer at The Atlantic, wherein one found nearly as many Russiagate lies as in the Times, the other major dailies and on the network newscasts. By the look of things it would have been more but for the fact The Atlantic comes out monthly.
I wrote earlier that Gerth exposed “more or less all” of the Russiagate rot, and later “a great deal” of it. I mean to suggest there is a missing piece.
Gerth went after the all the media coverage fabricating Trump’s nonexistent ties to the Kremlin. But he left untouched the fabrication that served as the foundation of the Russiagate edifice. This was the now-disproven contention that it was Russians who broke into the Democratic Party’s email servers in mid–2016 and pilfered mail that was eventually made public via WikiLeaks.
It was the former intelligence analysts and technologists of Veterans Intelligence Professionals for Sanity who first exposed this harvest of fallacies. Working with other forensic specialists, VIPS demonstrated in late 2016 that it was technically impossible for Russians or anyone else to compromise the Democrats’ computer systems. It was logically an inside job executed by someone with direct access to the servers — a leak, not a hack.
Consortium News published these findings, as it had many previous VIPS documents. I subsequently wrote a lengthy column on them, published in The Nation in August 2017.
List of Liars
These findings were significantly supported when it was later revealed that CrowdStrike, the infamous cybersecurity firm working for the Democrats, had lied when it claimed to possess evidence of Russia’s complicity: It never had any. This was under oath, and what a difference an oath can make. Adam Schiff had lied when he claimed to have possessed or seen such evidence. James Comey lied. Susan Rice lied. Evelyn Farkas lied.
This list of liars is long. But no mainstream media ever reported the Senate testimonies when these were made public in May 2020 — Schiff having successfully blocked them for three years. And no one cares to touch this question even now.
The exceptions here are third-raters such as David Corn, the Mother Jones correspondent, whose wild over-investments in the Russiagate fables leaves them now insisting on what has been open-and-shut disproven.
Let us not omit this matter from our understanding of the Russiagate years, even if a sound report such as Gerth’s does.
Gerth’s immense investigation is a milestone in the Stuart Loory line. But we are ill-advised to anticipate any kind of great mea culpa or radical turn back to principle among American media.
Gerth being who he is and his methods being his methods, he asked 60 journalists with unclean hands for comment. A minority of them responded; none accepted his or her culpability. No major publication or broadcaster Gerth approached would reply to his questions during his reporting. It was “no comment” straight down the line. Franklin Foer, indeed, had no comment.
It is likely to be the same, then, as it was after Loory published in CJR 49 years ago. We must anticipate either silence or a very great deal of fog and blur, just as it was after Loory and Carl Bernstein published.
Here I must offer a caution of sorts, prompted by something that has already been said in response to the Gerth pieces. After Loory published and in the course of Bernstein’s reporting, there was a great deal of elision and denial to the effect that others were guilty but not we.
If I read the ground accurately, it is publications claiming “progressive” status that are most likely to get into this game.
I am moved to note this by a Tweet Katrina vanden Heuvel, now The Nation’s editorial director and its editor during the Russiagate years, published in response to the CJR report. In it vanden Heuvel, quoting a remark Bob Woodward made, “urges newsrooms to ‘walk down painful road of introspection’ & review failures with Russia-collusion.”
In @CJR Bob Woodward tells Jeff Gerth the Russia probe "wasn't handled well" & accuses mainstream press of having "cheated" public out of truth. Urges newsrooms to "walk down painful road of introspection" & review failures with Russia-collusion stories. https://t.co/21M6Y65wSb
— Katrina vandenHeuvel (@KatrinaNation) February 1, 2023
I take great exception to this remark. I find it deeply offensive. And it is precisely a case of the duplicity and hypocrisy of which I have just warned.
When I published the aforementioned column on the VIPS findings in August 2017, it caused an extraordinary frenzy in mainstream Democratic circles, notably in The Nation’s newsroom, which was and remains staffed with true-believing Russiagaters, liberal Russophobes, one more strident than the next.
In response to the column, a group of these people launched a juvenile but nonetheless savage attack on the column’s author. Vanden Heuvel, having read and approved the column, set this herd loose, and a scene out of Lord of the Flies ensued.
They demanded that I answer 36 ridiculous charges to the effect I made up facts, fabricated sources out of thin air and had altogether committed fraud as — but of course — a creature of the Kremlin. So far as I know they demanded the column be retracted and I fired.
These people, behaving as if they were Dominican inquisitors, were never identified to me. I nonetheless answered their queries in a lengthy memo, via vanden Heuvel, as the queries were conveyed to me, setting aside the single most preposterous breach of ordinary professional behavior I have ever known.
Six months later, when the Klieg lights were off, I was indeed fired. I do not know what pressures were exerted on vanden Heuvel, or from whence they came. As to the newsroom, the tail wags the dog at The Nation, now as then.
I note this chronology of events not as a matter of ill will or to air private animosities. I have made it clear in encounters with vanden Heuvel subsequent to my firing that I bear none of either. It is true that in my view Russiagate has turned The Nation into a jar of baby food, but hardly am I alone in this, a strictly professional judgment.
What is at issue is far more important, and mine merely an illustrative case.
If we are going to get beyond the press mess the Russiagate frenzies engendered, nobody gets out the side door. Everybody is called upon to accept what he or she, editor or reporter, did. Vanden Heuvel should heed her own urgings, to put this point another way.
Full acknowledgment is the basis of the project. Without this, there is little chance our media will avoid repeating the corruptions of the past seven years. They will have learned nothing, as they learned nothing back in Stuart Loory’s day. As earlier noted, I conclude now this will almost certainly prove to be the case once again.
I dedicate this column to the estimable Ray McGovern, whose integrity in all matters to do with Russiagate has been a service to all of us.
Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century. His Twitter account, @thefloutist, has been permanently censored. His web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon site. His web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon site.
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
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As a very proud (and much younger and handsomer :-) ) brother of Ray McGovern, I very much appreciate the dedication to Ray, an inspiration to us all!! Thank you so much.
And thank you for your wonderful, incisive, well-written columns. I seem to remember your smelling a rat, and writing almost immediately at the very beginning of Russiagate.
While your column concentrates on the abysmal performance of main stream media, I remind readers of Ray’s oft-expressed “expansion” of Eisenhower’s Military Industrial Complex, or MIC. Ray explains how MIC has become the MICIMATT, the Military Industrial Intelligence Media Academia Think Tank Complex, all in sync with each other, with MEDIA as the lynchpin, to create a world fraught with danger the likes of which we have rarely seen.
No disagreement about the Nation’s conduct overall on Russiagate. They did not cover themselves in glory.
But perhaps the interests of fairness would be served noting that Aaron Mate and vanden Heuvel’s late husband, Stephen Cohen, merit exceptions for their good work on the subject.
Separately: how can you be so sure Bernstein’s Rolling Stone piece “mapped the full extent” of Operation Mockingbird?
Thank you for your excellent article on Jeff Gerth’s investigation The Columbia Journalism Review on the Democratic Party’s Russiagate fraud. Insofar as your summary Mr. Gerth’s work is concerned, there is no need for further comment. Readers will be better served to read your analysis and commentary.
However, to our betterment and my relief and satisfaction, you also address the issue which Gerth did not address – the question of whether, as the Hillary Clinton campaign insisted, “Russians” (the question of whether such “Russians”, actual or imaginary, were in any way connected with the Russian Federation, conveniently omitted) “hacked” the DMC emails. That assertion was a flat out lie by the DNC; as you observe, that point was made by the Veterans Intelligence Professionals For Sanity (“VIPS”). It was a leak, not a hack. I followed the VIPS reports and the reports of its reports by Consortium News and found that reporting to be completely convincing. It has since been found to be the absolute truth. I missed your August, 2017 report in The Nation because I had cancelled my subscription to that magazine due to its serial misrepresentations of Hillary Clinton as a “progressive” in its effort to convince progressive voters to vote for her in the 2016 election.
I will add a few observations with regard to the fraudulent and criminal conduct of the Hillary Clinton campaign:
Adam Schiff lied on the Congressional Record and, as you observe, suppressed the truth with regard to these matters for three years. Mr. Schiff should have been prosecuted for such conduct. He has not.
The representatives of the Clinton campaign lied under oath in affidavits they submitted to the FISA Court with regard to these matters. They have not been censored or prosecuted for such conduct.
The 6 hand picked members of the “intelligence agencies” who lied to the American People with regard to these matters have not been fired or punished in any way for their misconduct.
Trust in the so-called “intelligence agencies”, the FBI, the Pentagon and our government in general has been severely damaged as a result of this fraud perpetrated on the American People. The same, of course, is true with regard to the MSM. I am amazed (and greatly disappointed) that even 26% of the people still trust the MSM. Who are these people?
Thank you again Mr. Lawrence, for being a truth-teller and a great journalist and writer. You tell your important stories very well indeed.
All of us are dependent on the information which we receive. One must preserve his/her own feelings.
For example, I have no way to explore decisions or events without relying on the reports of MSM. The
information however slanted is expected to be interpreted by us. We have no other option. We have
no one in the Pentagon, in the White House, in Ukraine. We realize that much is not reported at all. And yet
all of us sooner or later will stoop to a reference from The New York Times or the Wall Street Journal
and so forth. One tries to give context. One tries to rely on material in consortiumnews and on other
sources even knowing that those reports too are products of persons, organizations and politicians concerned
primarily with their careers. We are force fed. We must use available material or none at all.
An old saying in political circles regarding politicians many of whose positions you disapprove: Do you want
a “yes” vote?
The MSM has disgraced itself as serial liars. The only truth-tellers are independent sources such as Consortium News. Anyone who fails to understand that the MSM serves only as propaganda agents fof the government has not been paying attention.
in some cases the force feeding can give an indication of what they want you to taste. sometimes this points to something like the opposite being true. in other cases, when it is only a distraction, there is indeed no telling what is really going on. maybe one should read the msm from the starting point that they lie to manipulate and achieve certain goals or just distract magicianwise. the press are businesses, corporations – once i thought society should entrust institutions of learning, like universities, with this informational task to the public, but then again, they too are corporations and businesses …
Feb 19 at Lincoln Memorial
Rage Against the War Machine rally is going to be HUGE at Lincoln Memorial on February 19th.
Why isn’t Scott Ritter and Ray McGovern included?
Good question. I’m sure no one organizing the event would deny them. Probably some sort of scheduling conflict I presume.
Should be a terrific event nonetheless.
As a natural-born US citizen of German heritage 3 generations ago, I’ve always felt ashamed of the Germans’ embrace of Hitler and the Nazis. But it always seemed like that black mark was history from a more ‘culturally naive’ era — the 1930’s/40’s German populace wasn’t as media-sophisticated/savvy as we 1960’s/70’s US public. However, starting with the election of ‘St Ronnie’ in 1980 and subsequent examples like the Iraq War in 2003, ‘Russia-gate’, and now the Ukraine War (to name a few of the worst) serving as object lessons, I’m coming to sadly believe that we in the contemporary US — in spite of all our educational institutions and communication modes — are no-more immune to crass political manipulation than the aforementioned Germans and similar historical examples.
Unfortunately, you are correct. At the present time the U.S. is a rogue state, having explicitly rejected international law by adopting its phony and totally illegitimate “Rules-Based International Order”, which means “Follow U.S. Orders”. Thanks to revelations by Wikileaks and others we know that the U.S. has engaged in the most disgusting and egregious violations of human rights, including torture, kidnapping, extrajudicial murder and mass murder. And what do the “American People” do about it? Nothing that I can see. Of course, there are a few of us who are protesting these atrocities, but of what consequence? Nothing so far. Your conclusion is correct – the U.S. is just as susceptible as Germany was in the 1930s to the prospect of being captivated by an ideologue/madman comparable to Hitler due to the impoverishment of the people and the theft of our resources by the ruling elite who now own and operate the government for their own benefit.
The endless succession of lies and corrupt practices pile up so enormously and quicly that there is no time to do anything about them. It is well known to any corrupt politician that mostly nothing will be done about their crimes particularly considering the corruption of the US judiciary.
That the UK judiciary can go along with that also shows its corrupted state (eg. Assange case).
Has no one found out how those illegal acts, lying to Congress, the FBI etc. are ignored and by whom?
Apologies for this OT comment.
For those who might be interested:
Seymour Hersh, at his Substack site, has published an account of the planning and execution of the destruction of the Nord Stream pipeline.
His report may be accessed at Moon of Alabama on today’s (Feb. 08, 2023) thread; MOA – Hersh; “How America took out the Nord Stream pipeline.”
Heartfelt thanks for the heads-up on Hersh. I’d been wondering whether he was still active, given his age and that for some years now he has been disappeared from mainstream domestic publications. (His last contributions of which I was aware were published in Die Welt and the London Review of Books several years ago.)
While we’re OT here’s another Sy Hersh testimony, this time in a deposition (I won’t call it an inquisition) from July, 2020. This relates to remarks on Seth Rich in this comment thread.
Hersh was being questioned on his view that Rich was responsible for the DNC leaks in 2016. He also speaks of Julian Assange.
The transcript here is a bit tedious–long, in tiny font, but very interesting and characteristic of Sy Hersh directness, fearlessness, and even humor.
The above is linked from a Dec 11, 2022 article saying FBI releasing it has new information on Seth Rich
Final remarks on Hersh, since it’s OT. His best line in the 250-page transcript of his deposition concerning Seth Rich, when asked by the lawyer interrogating him via Zoom to click on a PDF on his computer screen, Hersh replies: “Counsel, I’m a dedicated Luddite.”
Also, I tried subscribing to his website Wednesday afternoon and received an automated message blocking the transaction. For anyone who might have had the same experience, he’s been made aware of the problem and is looking into it.
Where to start? Or rather, where does it start? I’ve commented here several times that it was only as Dwight Eisenhower was leaving the WH that he felt sufficiently unencumbered to tell the American public that the Shining City on the Hill was rotting from the inside out. And then of course as others have already noted, came the Bright Shining Lie of the Viet Nam War (or as the Vietnamese call it “The American War”.) Then the first and second Gulf Wars, both fashioned and pursued through a myriad of lies.
I understand that Mr. Lawrence wrote this article pursuant to the release of the Jeff Gerth work, but such a media charade as Russiagate could not have been possible without the absolute propaganda triumph of the second Gulf War. Recall that absolutely no-one suffered any repercussions, censures, or criminal indictments from what surely was the worst exercise of US foreign policy in our history. Compared to this, where hundreds of thousands of innocent people were killed on the basis of outright lies, the takedown of a tin-plated, pompous, serial liar like Donald Trump simply pales in comparison. Lest you believe that mine is a partisan apologetic, I have in mind also Joe Biden who stifled voices of truth from addressing the Congress and twisted arms to vote for the AUMF that enabled all of that senseless killing and destruction. Not only not punished but rewarded with the POTUS on a platter as the powers-that-be crushed the only truly populous politician in the US.
I haven’t lost focus, my redding comprension is not compromised and I understand all of Patrick’s points here, but I’ve known or realized all of this for most of my adult life, and for that life of me have never been able to figure out just how to fight it. I would like to believe, like Drew Hunkins expressed below, that our owners and masters are scared, but I just don’t see it. They hold all the cards, control all the levers, and are fully willing and able to bring the pain if the unwashed masses get a collective bug up our ass.
Rhetorical question of the day: Who trusts the MSM, Silicon Valley, the FBI, the DOJ, the US State Department, the Pentagon, the CIA, the NSA, Homeland Security, the CDC, the FDA, or the US Congress more today than they did only ten years ago?
The unintended consequence of the Trump presidency was that it necessarily revealed the moral character (or lack there of) for those who worked in each of the above listed agencies and organizations. In their rabid attempts to destroy a duly elected POTUS “by any means necessary,” they only succeeded in outing themselves as the cretinous political animals they are in real life. Like a cheating spouse caught <in flagrante delicito or a pedophile priest, how long it will take for these media and government power elites to ever regain the trust of the American people is anyone’s guess.
Until then, however, trust no one without insisting on secondary and tertiary verifications from multiple, independent sources.
First, a bit of context – I am a progressive who has never voted for a Republican in a national election. I thin that that information is necessary background for the following comment, which is that I absolutely agree with you. There is no reason to trust any of these people. The six hand picked members (picked, obviously, because of their bias against Trump) who dishonestly issued their “assessment” with regard to the fraudulent Russiagate deal were not fired or censured. No one has been held accountable for the multiple crimes committed by the elite members of the DNC who perpetrated this gigantic fraud. And on and on. The credibility of all these institutions is destroyed. There is no reason to trust any of them.
Thank you, Patrick, for your integrity and perseverance in serving as an island of truth in a sea of lies. I take some small satisfaction that you and the handful of real journalists questioning the Russiagate narrative have been shown to be correct all along. As you point out, the mainstream media will never acknowledge this. But there is a record for future generations – provided we have a future.
I agree that Gerth’s four-part expose was a significant critique of the media’s despicable role in all this. Nevertheless, since you give the example of Colby, I have to say that as I read these articles the phrase “limited hangout” kept coming to mind. The information on *media* malfeasance was good. But the role of the intelligence community was severely understated, if not whitewashed. When FBI agents were mentioned, they were usually depicted as Russiagate *skeptics* who were trying to warn that the evidence was uncertain. Amazingly, one “skeptic” who kept coming up in this light was *Peter Strzok* of all people! This was perhaps because he seemed to be a major source for this series. But even Comey fared pretty well. Further, Brennan, Clapper, and the CIA were barely mentioned, and when they were it seemed they were mainly just skeptical bystanders. Mifsud and the other sources came off as just blowhards trying to impress, etc. I also noted, as you point out, omission of the e-mail “hacking” scam. It would have been difficult to discuss this without acknowledging the role of the intelligence community. But beggars can’t be choosers, I guess.
Regardless, I am extremely grateful to real journalists like you, Joe Lauria, Robert Parry, and others who have tried to provide a measure of sanity in an insane world. Thanks again.
You are very right, pjay. Your thought appeciated and shared. It is a matter of writing things into the record and letting the record stand for whomever may make use of it at some future time. Ray McG., to whom I’d dedicate this column, said to me long ago, “We don’t do things on the basis of our chances of success. That never figures in. We do what we do because we know it is right.”
Thanks, too, to all commenters. I am always interested to follow the thread.
As I said, Patrick. Rache. The German word written in blood in the murder room in the very first Sherlock Holmes story – A Study in Scarlet. Go for it.
Every adult in the U$A should carefully read Jeff Gerth’s four part series.
Gerth is 78, and possesses a most mature sensibility and obvious integrity.
As I read Gerri’s extensive and detailed investigation, several days ago, I found myself reconsidering a concern I have had since the very beginning of Russiagate: By what, which, or whose authority did the FBI imagine that they could get away with lying to the FISA court about the Steele Dossier, and several other things?
This was not the first time that FISA court judges were lied to and I have written before about those judges’ apparent inability to discern repeated patterns of deceit.
I frame the question of authority within the the context of two other considerations::
1. After the war against the people of Vietnam, who presented no threat at all, TO the U$, the government realized that they (the government) had allowed the media (however slow-witted those media might have been) TOO much latitude.
Henceforth, “legitimate” journalists would be “embedded” (as would be their publishers) within the military’s control.
2. When evidence of torture became public, the immediate “official” and “embedded” media response was that,
“… it was just a few bad apples …” which, considering the psychology of the military, was very unlikely. This behavior was encouraged and directed from “above”. Indeed, it was government policy, which ultimately was turned into a “program” devised by psychologists Mitchell and Jesson and called “Learned Helplessness”.
Of course apologists, using semantic evasion, quickly claimed the torture was merely “Enhanced Interrogation”, which canard the media happily repeated and promoted.
We, the US Press Corps (and the CIA), apologize most humbly to President Trump, his family, and his voters that we ruined his four years in the White House by fabricating a fake story of Trump’s so-called “collusion” with Russia. It is inconceivable to us now that we behaved so egregiously and undemocratically in trying to unseat a president rightfully elected by the US voting system.
We hope never again will the US Press Corps (and the CIA) work so one-sidedly and on behalf of a defeated presidential candidate (herself, ironically, mired in Russian dealings).
We apologize too, Mr. Trump, that at the end of your presidency, we withheld from the public information about Joseph and Hunter Biden that–had we released it–might have tipped the scales in your favor.
We have learned our lesson. Going forward, we will be scrupulously non-partisan; we shall publish nothing without absolute, verifiable evidence. Nightly TV News bulletins will be just that, honestly and impartially informing the public of world and national events without attempting to sway people to our point of view. As John Lennon rightly said, ‘Gimme some truth.’ That’s the media’s job; we’ll do it from now on.
So, President Trump, every one of the thousands of signatories to this letter says a heartfelt Mea maxima culpa.
We are deeply, deeply sorry.
(Signed) The Press Corps (and the CIA)
Every adult in the U$A should carefully read Jeff Gerth’s four part series (bearing in mind, always, that 43% of U$ adults read at a sixth grade level).
Gerth is 78 and possesses a most mature sensibility and obvious integrity,
As I read Gerth’s extensive and detailed history, several days ago, I found myself reconsidering a concern I have had since the very beginning of Russiagate:
By what or upon whose authority, did the FBI imagine that they could get away with lying to the FISA court about the Steele Dossier and several other things?
This, of course, was not the first time that FISA court judges were lied to, and I have written before about those judges’
apparent inability to discern repeated patterns of deceit.
I frame the question of authority in the context of two considerations:
1. After the war against the people of Vietnam, who presented no threat, at all, TO the U$, the government realized that they (the government) had allowed the media (however slow-witted those media might have been) TOO much latitude.
Henceforth, “legitimate” journalists would be “embedded” (as would be their publishers) within the military’s control.
2. When the evidence of torture became public (“journalism” was already “embedded”, remember) the immediate “official” and media response was that,
“…it was just a few bad apples …”. Which, considering the psychology of the military, was very, very unlikely. This behavior was encouraged and directed from “above”.
Indeed, it was official government policy, which was ultimately turned into a “program” devised by psychologists Mitchell and Jesson. This program was called “Learned Helplessness”.
Of course, apologists, using semantic evasion, claimed the torture was merely
“Enhanced Interrogation”, which canard the media happily repeated and promoted.
Patrick, as I read that “… the Obama Administration … and dreadful liars … had taken active roles in the ruse”, it appears increasingly evident that Barack Obama had to have, one way or another, openly or with a wink, a nod, or some equivalent, turned loose the agencies of investigation and enforcement, from the very beginning.
Doubtless, the assumption was that Hillary Clinton would win and any sloppy excess would be rewarded.
However, Obama, as President, being where the buck stops and “authority” starts, bears a very considerable responsibility, I consider, for the ensuing assault upon reason, upon rational, civil, debate, and upon any serious regard for truth.
Further, Russiagate has had an enormous role in vilifying Russia (and especially Putin), garnering support for the current proxy war in Ukraine.
Even if the media is shamed, in a wee, tiny little bit, even to a mumbled “mea culpa”, this does not begin to address the consequence of the abrogation of Freedom of Speech, nor does it free truth tellers (Assange), neither does it encourage meaningful change.
A crisis of trust exists.
Not just between the media and the people, but also between the government and the people.
Worst of all, the people are not able to trust each other enough to recognize that our common plight was brought upon us by people who care only for and about themselves.
THAT is what we ALL must deal with.
Yet, we have, as have all western societies, for a hundred years, been subjected to psychological manipulation (overt propaganda) and more subtle forms of mind-shaping (right think), which might as well be titled “Learned Helplessness”, to such an extent that the insanity of a possible (nuclear) war with Russia or China, or both, is NOT a topic of discussion at institutions of Higher Learning, in the U$, because people are afraid – afraid of censure, of attack, of losing jobs, relationships, or social standing.
Thank you, Patrick and Consortium News, for sharing Jeff Gerth’s damning history of Russiagate, with an ever larger, far better informed audience.
Thanks especially for your opening line, “… Russiagate has had an enormous role in vilifying Russia (and especially Putin), garnering support for the current proxy war in Ukraine.”
I’ve also pointed this out because Russiagate was not only a way for Clinton & the DNC to deflect attention from their anti-democratic acts during the 2016 Primary, but also a way to ramp up the demonization towards war that you so rightly note.
Of course, it also helped give further opportunity for the spook agencies to increase their presence, importance and funding levels, and for the hawks generally to ramp up ‘defense’ spending and cyber- and economic warfare against Russia. In my view, one of the worst effects was that it led most of the liberals, normally the more pacifist part of the population, and presumably more naturally questioning of the security establishment, to set aside any such hesitancy and thus make of them Russia-haters ready to see Putin as the new Hitler.
Thank you for this fine overview of press complicity in deep state narratives. I think “Russiagate” was planted in fertile soil however. Europe and the US have a long history of Russo-phobia. For the US, it stems from the Russian Revolution and Capitalist fears of communist contagion. That’s why we sent troops to Russia during the revolutionary turmoil. For Europe, there’s been a long and complex love/hate relationship with its eastern neighbor going back centuries.
It is rare that I get frustrated with an arfticle on cn. It hurt my heart that this otherwise fastidious report by Gerth had the “hack” incorrectly installed again, when it was a leak. After so long! No hack. Bill Binney proved it was no hack, couldn’t have been (bc of speed size, capability of transfer etc.) and he showed clearly why and how it was proven not to be a hack! And the copied file? Was, not coincidentally, the exact size of a thumbdrive, copied, handed over. Had to have been. And most likely by a dnc staffer.
No Russian. “That’s BOGUS,” absolutely. Ray keeps explaining this. And the Cyrillic crumbs indicate clumsy cia/fbi foolishness. Will Ray McGovern live long enough to see this truth taken for what it is?! Will any of us?! Including Julian?! Let’s quit wrapping the wrong part around the axle. No hack. Leak. No Russians. Secrecy, and lies in Hillary-fashion. Taken up by news media and wrapped unto eternity it would seem.
Excellent and important comment, Theresa.
Very much appreciated.
The bottom line is that even Trump’s extremely mild and essentially faux populism sends shivers down the spines of virtually every establishment hack in the nation. Lol!
What does this reveal? What does this tell us?
It shows that us bottom 90% are much closer than we think to upturning the entire apple cart and drastically reforming the rotten attributes of the US status quo. Our rulers know internally how fragile their house of cards truly is.
Trust me, we have them scared. It’s one reason the elites are desperately trying to channel the rage and discontent into non-class non-empire issues like trans stuff. Let’s remember that BLM (an almost totally ID politics trip) was funded and supported by Wall St and many of the giant defense [sic] contractors.
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” — Upton Sinclair
In newsrooms, careerists know which way the wind blows. It’s that simple.
I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat, and NOT a Trump supporter, but it is amazing that, given the facts carefully laid out in this article, Federal District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks not only threw out Mr. Trump’s lawsuit against the Clintons, et. al. in this matter, but then fined Mr. Trump and his attorneys almost a million dollars for daring to bring the suit. Judge Middlebrooks is a prime example of the politization of the Judiciary by the Deep State and its cronies which has led so many decent Americans to question all aspects of government and politics, and especially, the legitimacy of federal elections.
It must be understood that we do not have a rule of law in the U$, Guillermo, we have rule by those who have power within the “legal” system.
The functional purpose of that system is, and always has been, the protection of the status quo of wealth, power, and privilege.
I believe that journalists, who have extensive contacts with the State Dept., military and intelligence agencies, have been told they are information warriors on the front lines of a new information war. Their job is to wage a war of disinformation, not report all of the details as they know them. Everything that the corporate media report can be understood in this light.
A fantastic piece, as usual. We are spoiled on this website. This is what a news site can be.
Ray McGovern is a national treasure for many reasons. A somewhat minor reason is his identification of MICIMATT as a useful shorthand for the enemy. Note that the M in the middle stands for Media … without whom the Deep State would never be able to rule through control of the national narrative.
Well, if there were still wonderings why the American mainstream
press so abandoned Julian Assange your piece ended the wonder,
and what a heart-felt gift to Ray McGovern who so deserves it.
There won’t be any reckoning. The paid shills for corporate-militarism will simply move on to their next major topic to mislead about. Just like they did with Saddam’s WMD.
Oh, and The Nation (I see Katrina’s quoted here) had a couple of their writers, by no means all, peddle Russophobia too.
Considering that Stephen Cohen was Katrina’s husband, I have always wondered why Russophobic articles were to be found at the Nation, unless it was mostly that, somehow, such articles were considered to add “balance” as a sop to “fairness”.
Considering that all of us of a certain age, grew up in an atmosphere, in the U$, of inculcated fear of Russia, obviously intended to foster unreasoning hatred for Russia, that war with that nation was not only “thinkable”, but very likely “inevitable”, it is no wonder that the best and brightest of the Hillary contingent absolutely believed that Trump could be vilified sufficiently as to ensure a Clinton victory.
Frankly, that a member of my generation, the Boomers, would resort to
such dangerous and dishonest behavior without serious pushback, makes clear that the psychological manipulation that generation experienced was terribly successful.
Especially when the majority of the Boomers will, very likely, claim not only that they are “free” but have never been influenced by any of the pervasive and ubiquitous narrative control to which they were subjected.
As Mark Twain suggested, it is easier to fool a person (populous) than to convince them that they have been fooled.
I would suggest, Drew, that a society premised upon unexamined assumptions, is neither “free” nor “democratic”, it is captive and controlled.
Excellent commentary DW!
Professor Steven Cohen was ignored by the Nation and sometimes vilified as a Putin apologist, etc. I listened to many of his broadcasts. He was a true diplomat and patriot along and is sadly missed, funny how his wife didn’t and doesn’t have the same moral courage.
“The caker in the Foer case is what happened to this punk after everything he wrote about the Dossier proved false.”
Can anyone tell me what a “caker” is when used in this context? I’ve never seen that word in my entire life.
as in: “This takes the cake.”
vinnieoh – that could be American? – in England we (used to) say, ‘that takes the biscuit’, but I haven’t heard that for 50 odd years.
Tom, among my friends from Canada, that term is used to denote someone known for poor judgment (and “bad taste”) in most everything.
Whether this is the definition Patrick has in mind, must await his description of the term.
A fair question. “Caker” is my word. I bend the lexicon sometimes. Vinnieoh has it right. Shorthand for taker of the cake.
You are immortalized in the summer cocktail, I take it.
Re: ” … Clinton and her husband were ass deep in their obscured and multiple complicities with various Russians.”
How could they NOT be “ass deep” in Russian affairs, the dynamic duo having directed a virtual army of, first, US financial advisers in Moscow to “modernize***” the economy of the new Russia left after the breakup of the USSR, then political election experts running Boris Yeltsin’s 1996/7 presidential campaign from Yeltsin’s MOSCOW (just to be clear, re “meddling”) office. See “Failed Crusade” by the late Stephen F. Cohen
*** That is, give the US access to Russian assets and resources. The shutting down, by Putin, of this almost decade-long, give-away party thrown by Yeltsin being the only identifiable “complaint” the US has against not-so-mad Vlad.
What a great piece. Thank you.
The apparently invisible elephant in the room even in a great piece such as this, however, is Seth Rich. I end up feeling that it dishonors his memory not to acknowledge what was probably an act of immense courage and sacrifice. Yes, one can say that it is not absolutely proven that he downloaded the contents of Clinton?s emails from the DNC servers onto a thumb drive or that this is at all connected to his murder a few days later with a shot in the back of the head on the streets of Washington DC. True, but neither is it absolutely proven that the CIA assassinated Kennedy or that the FBI assassinated Martin Luther King. Come on. Let?s at least acknowledge strong probabilities.
Agreed, I really wish someone would take up the Rich story and follow it through to its conclusion. It is a giant hole in our collective understanding of the events of Russiagate. Unfortunately, there be dragons here for anyone so bold.
Good reminder Jan, and “strong possibilities” is giving
the deep state far more than it deserves, but thanks
for the reminder
Thanks for paying due respect to Seth Rich, the forgotten one. We need journalists of the highest caliber to investigate his murder.