By Jon Dougherty
The cable news organization most likely to ‘get it wrong’ or ‘make it up’ when it comes to reporting on the Trump administration and the Obama regime’s attempted coup against a duly-elected president is, by far, CNN.
Hostess Erin Burnett proved that again on Friday when she made multiple, um, errors, in referencing the infamous “dossier” written by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele.
For one, as Chuch Ross at The Daily Caller noted, she made the same, tired, oft-debunked claim that the salacious dossier was first funded by Republicans.
In addition, she also made the false claim that a newly released report produced for Buzzfeed News supported prior allegations that Steele made about Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian technology executive. And without evidence, Burnett said that many of the dossier’s wild claims have been verified (they haven’t).
“New tonight, President Trump slamming the Steele dossier on Twitter calling it the, quote, ‘fake dossier paid for by crooked Hillary,’” she began, referring to a tweet from the president earlier on Friday.
“Let’s just make sure we share the facts with you,” said Burnett. “It was paid for, right, by a conservative website funded by a Republican donor. That was the firm that paid for the dossier to get it started. As far as it being fake, we have a lot we don’t know. We do know several allegations in the dossier are true and tonight we’re learning more.”
First of all, the “website” was the Washington Free Beacon, and its funding GOP donor is billionaire Paul Singer. True, he hired opposition research firm Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on then-candidate Trump, but that contract ended when he became the party nominee.
However, Hillary Clinton’s campaign, working through a cut-out — the Perkins Coie law firm — hired Fusion GPS, who then hired Steele, who then produced the dossier specifically for use by Obama’s FBI as justification to launch a counterintelligence investigation into 2016 Team Trump, which included spying on the campaign.
Also, contrary to her claims about the dossier’s accuracy, virtually none of it has been substantiated in the two-plus years since Trump has been in the White House.
“And one of its most serious claims — that Michael Cohen visited Prague to pay off hackers — was disputed by the former Trump attorney during a sworn congressional hearing in February,” Ross wrote.
Burnett is just one in a long line of Left-wing journalists who have made the claim that the dossier is real when it isn’t. On her Friday show, the CNN hostess referenced a report by Anthony Ferrante, a former FBI agent who was hired by BuzzFeed as part of its legal battle with Gubarev.
Steele claimed in one of his dossier’s memos that Gubarev was recruited under “duress” by Russian spies and played a “significant” role in hacking Democrats’ computer systems. Gubarev sued Steele and BuzzFeed, which published the dossier Jan. 10, 2017, for defamation.
Ferrante’s final investigative report and deposition were unsealed Thursday along with a slew of other documents from the lawsuit.
Ferrante, who was paid $4.1 million by BuzzFeed, found no evidence supporting the key claim about Gubarev. Instead, he determined only that Gubarev’s companies “have provided gateways to the internet for cybercriminals and Russian state sponsored actors to launch and control large scale malware campaigns over the past decade.”
Ferrante, who joined CNN as a contributor in January, also dinged Gubarev for failing to “actively prevent cybercriminals from using their infrastructure.”
As for the dossier, even its early, ardent champions have had a change of heart.
Yahoo News‘ Michael Isikoff was one the first Washington journalists to write about and push its wild allegations, but he said in December the lack of evidence in the years since it was publicized mean they were “likely false.”
As Election Day drew close in September 2016, Isikoff wrote about Steele’s memos, focusing principally on the former British spy’s claim that Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page met with Russian operatives linked to President Vladimir Putin during a publicly announced trip to Moscow in July of that year.
But as noted by the Washington Times, Isikoff told Mediate columnist John Ziegler, “When you actually get into the details of the Steele dossier, the specific allegations, we have not seen the evidence to support them, and in fact, there is good grounds to think that some of the more sensational allegations will never be proven and are likely false.”
Here are some of the more sensational allegations Steele made in his dossier, none of which have been corroborated:
— “The Trump campaign was a partner in an ‘extensive conspiracy’ with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 election.” — No confirmed evidence of this has been made public, and it’s also noteworthy to mention that not a single Trump campaign official has been charged with this. And yet, this was the core reason special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed.
— “Then-Trump attorney Michael Cohen secretly traveled to Prague in August 2016 and met with Putin aides to organize cash payments to hush up hackers who infiltrated Democratic Party computers.” — Again, no evidence, though one mainstream media outlet, McClatchy DC, has published two stories claiming Cohen did go to Prague (despite his repeated denials). The most recent story claimed that a cell phone belonging to him pinged a signal tower briefly near Prague, but it turns out that claim was based on third-hand information and has not been corroborated by any other media outlets.
Also: Top national security reporter Greg Miller, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, said during an event in October that the FBI and CIA never did believe a key allegation contained in the widely debunked “dossier” compiled ahead of the 2016 election by former British spy Christopher Steele, The Daily Caller‘s Chuck Ross notes.
— “Carter Page met with two Putin operatives and discussed a brokerage fee in return for pushing an end to U.S. sanctions on wealthy Russians and businesses.” — The FBI, after obtaining FISA court warrants using the dubious dossier as justification, put Page under surveillance for a year. No evidence has been presented that Page met with Putin operatives; he told Congress under oath he did not; he’s not been charged.
— “Mr. Page and campaign chairman Paul Manafort worked as a team to coordinate election interference with the Kremlin.” — Again, nothing has been presented publicly to support this allegation, and Manafort has been charged by Mueller and convicted for unrelated crimes the special counsel would not have pursued if he had evidence of nefarious election collusion. In fact, Manafort attorney Kevin Downing said he filed a court document seeking evidence of his client conversing with Russian officials. He was told there wasn’t any.
— “The Trump team paid Russian hackers.” — No evidence if this has been presented, though Mueller has brought charges against Russian operatives he says did the hacking.
In an interview recently, Mediaite asked Isikoff whether the Steele dossier “has been somewhat vindicated.”
Isikoff said, “No.”
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10