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Mass media hammered on fake news coverage of Steele Dossier

By David Singer - posted Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Retribution has been quick in coming for the mass media since Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his report on December 9 blasting the dossier prepared for the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton in 2016 by Christopher Steele (Steele Dossier) for the purposes of digging up dirt on then Presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The Steele Dossier was used as the basis of four applications to the highly secretive FISA Court to surveil an American citizen Carter Page between October 2016 and October 2017. In the course of so doing an unknown number of e mails and other communications between members of the Donald J Trump for President Campaign and Page – a former member of that Committee - concerning campaign related matters were collected by the FBI. Their number and contents remain under wraps. Page has never been charged with any offence following his extensive surveillance.

Horowitz stated that the FBI had concluded in January 2017 that much of the material in the Steele Dossier:


...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.

Yet Page continued to be surveilled.

Erik Wemple – media critic at the Washington Post – has now written a devastating eight part (so far) expose on the way the media treated this unverified and uncorroborated dossier.

Three media giants alleged by Trump to have purveyed fake news based on the dossier – The New York Times, MSNBC and CNN – are among the many scrutinized by Wemple.

Adam Goldman of the New York Times tells Wemple in an interview:

Did you guys ever chase the pee tape?

Yeah, I briefly chased the pee tape.

What happened there?

I don't want to get into it, but it just didn't … [Editor's note: At this point, Goldman's voice trailed off.]


Wemple unmercifully targeted MSNBC host - Rachel Maddow:

When small bits of news arose in favor of the dossier, the franchise MSNBC host pumped air into them. At least some of her many fans surely came away from her broadcasts thinking the dossier was a serious piece of investigative research, not the flimflam, quick-twitch game of telephone outlined in the Horowitz report. She seemed to be rooting for the document.

And when large bits of news arose against the dossier, Maddow found other topics more compelling.

She was there for the bunkings, absent for the debunkings - a pattern of misleading and dishonest asymmetry.

Wemple writes of CNN – one of Trump's principal targets for fake news allegations:

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About the Author

David Singer is an Australian Lawyer, a Foundation Member of the International Analyst Network and Convenor of Jordan is Palestine International - an organisation calling for sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza to be allocated between Israel and Jordan as the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine. Previous articles written by him can be found at

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All articles by David Singer

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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