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When The New York Times Helped Trump
When The New York Times Helped Trump
January 17, 2017 11:41 AM EST
A shorter URL for the above link:
Talk about strange bedfellows joining forces to produce an unlikely media alliance.
Thats what happened when The New York Times reported on October 31, 2016, that FBI officials had not been able to uncover any evidence that Russian operatives, through allegedly hacking Democratic emails, were trying to help elect Donald Trump.
Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia, read the October 31 Times headline which relied on unnamed law enforcement officials.
Acting as an almost unofficial time-out, and one that came with the Times seal of approval, the article helped put the media brakes on the unfolding Russian hacking story; the same Russian hacking story that has now morphed into a full-scale Trump scandal.
The message on October 31 from the Times sources was unmistakable: Theres no conclusive connection between Trump and the Russians, and the Russians efforts were aimed at disrupting the presidential election rather than electing Mr. Trump. (Question: How do you not pick sides in a two-person election if you only undermine one of the candidates, the way Russian hackers only undermined the Democrat?)
The Times piece set off audible cheers within the conservative media, which usually holds the Times in contempt for its supposed liberal media bias.
In fact, pointing to the newspapers alleged Democratic leanings, conservative claimed that if even the liberal New York Times determined there was no Trump-Russia story, then it definitely must be true.
And as far as liberals are concerned, the Democrats are concerned, when the New York Times clears you, you are cleared, Rush Limbaugh told his listeners on November 1. The New York Times carries as much weight as the FBI, and if the New York Times says theres nothing to see between Trump and Russia and Putin, then theres nothing to see.
All across the conservative media landscape, the Times report was held up as putting the Trump-Russia story to bed.
However, to suggest the Times influential October 31 report hasnt aged well, as MSNBCs Chris Hayes recently put it, may be an understatement, as the unfolding hacking scandal continues to gain momentum and more evidence tumbles out regarding claims that Russians were trying to help Trump. (Hayes also correctly recalled that “At the same time the FBI was leaking like a sieve about Clinton, people around it went out of their way to dampen the Putin talk.”)
The problems with the Times article are many. First off, Sen. Harry Reids spokesman claimed that Reid had been interviewed for the Times article, pushed back against its timid premise about there being no connection, and that Reids comments were omitted from the story.
More recently, weve seen all kinds of information revealed that contradicts the Times often-quoted October 31 report. For instance, FBI Director James Comey testified in December that Russia had hacked into Republican state political campaigns and old email domains of the Republican National Committee, but did not release information from those hacks. As Reuters pointed out, that allegation may buttress the U.S. intelligence view that Moscow tried to help Trump against Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 campaign.
More recently, the BBC reported that a joint taskforce, which includes the CIA and the FBI, has been investigating allegations that the Russians may have sent money to Mr Trump’s organisation or his election campaign. Also last week, the Guardian reported that FBI investigators were so concerned with a possible Trump-Russia connection that they asked for a foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) warrant to monitor Trump aides during the campaign. (The warrant request was reportedly denied.)
The complete article may be read at the URL above.
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