When BuzzFeed, CNN, and several other media organizations published a series of explosive allegations claiming that Donald Trump was under the thumb of Russian President Vladimir Putin, they characterized it as being part of the intelligence briefing given to the president and the president-elect last week. And while that’s not exactly like saying, “This is what U.S. intelligence officials believe to be true,” it makes it seem like the allegations have more weight to them than they actually do.
In truth, as reported by NBC on Wednesday, the report was only used by intelligence officials to demonstrate the difference between garbage rumors and actual U.S. intelligence conclusions.
On MSNBC, Senior investigator Cynthia McFadden said she had spoke to a senior U.S. intelligence official about the report. This official told her “the president-elect was not briefed on this so-called two-page addendum of these allegations against him, that it was part of the briefing materials available to the briefers.”
McFadden said the material was included not because the intelligence community thought it had any substance to it, but only in case “they needed to explain to Mr. Trump the difference between analyzed intelligence, and what they’re calling unvetted disinformation. It was available for that purpose, and it never came up.”
So the leaders of the intelligence agencies go into this briefing last week knowing that Trump has expressed skepticism about their conclusions regarding the Russian hacks. So, expecting that the president-elect might challenge their assertions, they prepared this little summary of unfounded allegations to make clear the difference between good intelligence and bad intelligence. It was specifically included as an example of garbage!
But that didn’t stop BuzzFeed from throwing it out there like it was the scoop of the century.
McFadden and NBC, who apparently have a little more journalistic integrity, drove the point home for viewers who were understandably confused by the reports.
“I just want to say one other thing, according to a high-ranking senior US intelligence official, and I’m quoting, ‘Intel and law enforcement officials agree that none of the investigations have found any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government, period,’” she said Wednesday.
BuzzFeed and CNN should be ashamed of themselves for publishing this tripe, and their reputations will suffer greatly for it.
In the meantime, let this be yet another reminder of how unethical and dishonest many in the political press are, and how low they’ll sink to bring Trump down.