03/28/17

Trump Continues Obama Policies

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

The Heritage Foundation article, “We Don’t Have to Choose Between Putin and George Soros,” is a very effective rebuttal to claims in the media that conservatives who oppose the influence of billionaire George Soros in foreign affairs are therefore siding with another billionaire, Russian ruler Vladimir Putin. The author, Mike Gonzalez, looks into the global struggle playing out on the international stage between these two major figures, and how conservatives are smeared as members of the Putin camp by liberal media outlets like Politico.

Gonzalez focuses on the small country of Macedonia, where “Soros and the U.S. Embassy have thrown their support behind parties contending against the conservative party VMRO—imperfect as many political parties around the world no doubt are, but very much pro-U.S. and pro-NATO.” Gonzalez examines Soros’s far-left agenda of open borders, abortion on demand and homosexual/transgender rights, and comments, “If for lack of a conservative alternative, VMRO turns to Putin to counter this far-left agenda coming from outside the country, that is our fault—and Soros.”

It is “our fault,” he says, because the State Department continues to facilitate Soros operations to transform the culture and politics of foreign countries.

Of course, President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson can change this, but they have been resistant to putting conservatives in place to change the course of U.S. foreign policy.

Gonzalez had previously examined how Soros money was corrupting the political process in Macedonia, with the assistance of the U.S. State Department. He noted that the Obama-appointed U.S. ambassador in the capital of Skopje, Jess Baily, has shown a political bias against the Macedonian conservative party, VMRO, and was promoting a left-wing coalition.

Republican members of the U.S. House and Senate had asked Baily to explain reports that his embassy had selected Soros’ Open Society Foundations as the main implementer of U.S. Agency for International Development projects in Macedonia. The State Department’s response “was thin on details regarding funding for Soros’ foundation and groups it controls,” Gonzalez reports.

Gonzalez has put his finger on a dialectical maneuver that plays into Putin’s hands. In response to official U.S. support for “liberal progressive policies around the world,” conservatives and moderates in foreign countries believe they have nowhere else to go except Putin, the former KGB officer now operating undercover as a religious conservative touting traditional values and national identity.

The U.S., not Putin, should be promoting Western values. But Obama’s State Department promoted a form of cultural imperialism that reflected the “fundamental transformation” of the United States. That is, multiculturalism, gay rights, abortion rights and even the rights of prostitutes!

Then there is Soros’ long-standing pro-drug legalization agenda, as we documented 12 years ago in our special report, “The Hidden Soros Agenda: Drugs, Money, the Media, and Political Power.” The leftist billionaire is accelerating his activities in Latin America on behalf of pro-drug interests.

In Costa Rica, for example, conservatives are alarmed by the push to legalize marijuana under the cover that the drug supposedly has “medical benefits.” One of them told me, “What we fear is that drug traffickers will shield themselves under regulations included in the medical marijuana bill if it passes, making it easier for them to send illegal substances to other countries, including the U.S.” He said the U.S. embassy in Costa Rica has been alerted to how Soros-backed organizations are putting pressure on the country’s Congress to pass a so-called medical marijuana bill. “We hoped for a change of mentality from the U.S. Embassy since President Trump was elected,” this source added, “but these officials are from the Obama administration and they stopped communicating with us after we mentioned Soros.”

In his column, “Vetting Trump’s Foreign Policy Team,” my colleague Roger Aronoff examined some of Trump’s high-profile picks and concluded that “…Trump needs to do a better job of filling key positions and vetting the people who are making and carrying out his policies. Otherwise, his administration could turn out to be a disaster.”

Looking at various selections in the foreign policy and national security fields, Aronoff asks, “Are these rookie mistakes or does Trump not care if his campaign promises regarding Israel, combating the Islamic jihadis, and ripping up the Iran deal go unfulfilled?”

Incredibly, as Aronoff notes, Trump himself “has signaled his unwillingness to fill many of his political appointee posts” with committed conservatives.

By continuing Obama’s policies and keeping Obama personnel in place, as Mike Gonzalez of the Heritage Foundation demonstrates, Trump is actually furthering the foreign policy goals of Putin. If this continues, it will constitute a form of collusion between the Trump and Obama administrations.

Perhaps that was the goal of the so-called “silent coup” all along—to keep in place the Soros policies financed by the Obama administration. If so, it appears that Trump has lost another big battle that will make his health care defeat seem like small potatoes.


Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected] View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.

03/26/17

Free Judge Napolitano!

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

BuzzFeed, described by Wikipedia as “a liberal American internet media company based in New York City,” is in the “donor spotlight” at the national news museum in Washington, D.C., known as the Newseum. The “honor” demonstrates how the media have changed and how low they have sunk.

A virtual property of Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal, BuzzFeed has been a cog in the anti-Trump media machine.

The “donor spotlight” designation is strangely appropriate, since BuzzFeed disclosed the so-called “Trump Dossier” used by the intelligence community to smear President Trump. “The allegations are unverified, and the report contains errors,” the social media site acknowledged while spreading the dubious claims.

By contrast, the John Peter Zenger exhibit located in the Newseum highlights a printer whose publication used the weapon of truth. The Newseum tells us, “German immigrant John Peter Zenger became a free-press hero before there was a First Amendment. On Nov. 17, 1734, the newspaper publisher was jailed for printing truthful articles in his New-York Weekly Journal accusing British Colonial governor William Cosby of being corrupt.”

The “Trump Dossier” released by BuzzFeed was concocted by a former British intelligence agent, and turned over to James Comey’s FBI. Around that time, in July of 2016, notes columnist Lawrence Sellin, the FBI launched its investigation of the unproven connections between the Trump campaign and the Russians. Comey told Congress that the Bureau has been actively investigating possible links between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin since “late July” of 2016.

“What a coincidence,” writes Sellin, a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the U.S. Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. This means that “the FBI investigation was based on highly questionable evidence” for which former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele reportedly “paid intermediaries who in turn paid sources for the information he used in the report.” In other words, he says, they were third-hand rumors from unidentified individuals. Sellin adds, “Remarkably, along with Trump’s political opponents, the Obama-Comey FBI planned to pay Steele to continue his work.”

The British link is significant. While Fox News commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano has been suspended for suggesting that the British NSA, known as GCHQ, had access to the surveillance information used against Trump, the two organizations do in fact have a history of working closely together.

This is shaping up as an example of how the Deep State operates, writes Sellin. In this case, intelligence arrangements are made “that open the possibility for government officials to skirt inconvenient national laws in order to surveil citizens and then use the products of that surveillance for political purposes.”

For raising necessary questions about this arrangement, Napolitano was reportedly banned from Fox News. He is the modern-day John Peter Zenger. However, his March 16 column, “Did Obama Spy on Trump?” is still on his website and looks increasingly relevant every day that passes.

This has been a major black mark for Fox News. Still, Fox News personalities like Sean Hannity are trying to cover the deepening scandal involving Obama administration surveillance of Trump and his associates.

The role that has been played by Comcast and its properties in the anti-Trump campaign is a teachable moment that allows us to reflect on the meaning of the First Amendment and how modern media have left behind the legacy of John Peter Zenger.

In contrast to Zenger, who used the weapon of truth against public officials, BuzzFeed used lies that were apparently devised for partisan political purposes by a foreign operative.

Referring to Comcast and others, Trump adviser Peter Navarro said during the campaign, “Donald Trump will break up the new media conglomerate oligopolies that have gained enormous control over our information, intrude into our personal lives, and in this election, are attempting to unduly influence America’s political process.”

BuzzFeed has been forced to apologize to one of those named in the Trump Dossier, in preparation for a suit filed against them.

By contrast, Zenger was found not guilty of seditious libel after his attorney, Alexander Hamilton, said, “It is not the cause of one poor printer, but the cause of liberty.”

Rather than being given a distinction as a valued donor, perhaps an exhibit in the Newseum should highlight BuzzFeed as an example of the politically-correct corporate media that today makes a mockery of First Amendment values.

At the same time, the Newseum should consider embracing the cause of freeing Judge Napolitano.

There’s no money in doing so. It would just be the right thing to do. It would be a reaffirmation of First Amendment values.


Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected] View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.

03/25/17

Media Lose Another Round to Trump

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

On the same day that the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal warned that President Donald Trump was going to go down in history as a “fake president,” in part because of his “false tweet” about the “wiretapping” of Trump Tower, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee disclosed evidence of the wiretapping, also known as surveillance.

The Journal editorial, “A President’s Credibility,” will probably not be followed up by an editorial on the Journal’s lack of credibility.

The anti-Trump editorial followed “conservative” Fox News undermining its own commentator, Judge Andrew Napolitano, whose sources said that the surveillance was conducted by the British to give U.S. intelligence officials plausible deniability. Napolitano was apparently suspended.

But thanks to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the chairman of the committee, Trump has been vindicated, media credibility has suffered another blow, and the inquiry is taking a very interesting turn. It is now turning to the question of what President Barack Obama knew and when he knew it, and what role FBI Director James Comey has been playing in the cover-up.

At Monday’s hearing, Comey said, “With respect to the President’s tweets about alleged wiretapping directed at him by the prior administration, I have no information that supports those tweets and we have looked carefully inside the FBI. The Department of Justice has asked me to share with you that the answer is the same for the Department of Justice and all its components. The department has no information that supports those tweets.”

The evidence cited by Nunes suggests that Comey lied. Who is he protecting? It looks like Obama and/or his top aides.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) had asked Comey: “Did you brief President Obama on any calls involving Michael Flynn?” Comey replied, “I’m not gonna get into either that particular case, that matter, or any conversations I had with the President. So I can’t answer that.”

This is critical because Flynn’s name was improperly “unmasked” and was then illegally leaked to David Ignatius of The Washington Post, resulting in Flynn’s forced resignation as national security advisor.

When Gowdy asked Comey if he could assure the American people that the illegal leak of classified information in the Flynn case was going to be investigated, the FBI director replied, “I can’t but I hope—I hope people watching know how seriously we take leaks of classified information. But I don’t want to confirm it by saying that we’re investigating it. And I’m sorry I have to draw the line, I just think that’s the right way to be.”

Here was an obvious case of illegal conduct, but the director would not confirm an investigation. Yet he confirmed an investigation of Trump and his associates, without any evidence of wrongdoing, and won’t discuss what he told President Obama about the investigation.

“I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked,” Nunes said in his statement on the surveillance. He added, “To be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia or any investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team.” Nunes then outlined some of the key issues regarding the surveillance:

  • Who was aware of it?
  • Why it was not disclosed to Congress?
  • Who requested and authorized the additional unmasking?
  • Did anyone direct the intelligence community to focus on Trump associates? and
  • Were any laws, regulations or procedures violated?

The Journal’s editorial attacking Trump’s credibility has backfired. We now know, according to Nunes and the whistleblower who came forward with this information to his committee, that a massive cover-up has been underway involving the intelligence community, including the FBI. Unraveling the cover-up may lead into the oval office—not Trump’s, but Obama’s.

The Journal editorial said Trump’s claim about wiretapping or surveillance had been “repudiated by his own FBI director.” Now that FBI director has been repudiated.

The Journal also condemned the Trump White House for accepting “an unchecked TV claim that insulted an ally,” a reference to Napolitano’s report about British involvement in the surveillance.

What is “unchecked” is the “public denial” from the British Government Communications Headquarters. Why should the British be believed, when there have been decades of collaboration between the GCHQ and the NSA?

The Journal suggested that Trump was clinging to the claim of surveillance “like a drunk to an empty gin bottle.” Leaving aside the defamatory nature of this innuendo, it would appear that the bottle is not only full but that there is more to come.

At this stage in the investigation, responsible media should encourage more whistleblowers to come forward, so that former Obama White House officials, including possibly Obama himself, can be put under oath and grilled about their knowledge of the surveillance.

As for Comey, he joins the Journal’s editorial page writers on the list of people who have completely lost their credibility and can’t be trusted. He should resign and be replaced.

Regarding Fox News, the network should reinstate Judge Napolitano and establish a special unit to investigate the FBI and the intelligence community. Sean Hannity shouldn’t be the only Fox News personality trying to get to the bottom of this Watergate-type scandal.


Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected] View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.

03/23/17

Vetting Trump’s Foreign Policy Team

By: Roger Aronoff | Accuracy in Media

President Donald Trump fared much better in the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Monday than the left-wing, establishment media would have you believe. The American Spectator’s George Neumayr captured the essence of the findings: “…the core claim underlying Trump’s tweets is true: people acting on the authority of Obama opened an investigation into Trump’s campaign, then criminally leaked mention of it to friendly news outlets in an attempt to derail his election. When is Obama going to apologize for that?”

But for weeks now, CNN and MSNBC have been calling Trump a liar, saying that there is no evidence to support his tweets, and demanding that he back down and apologize for his accusations against former President Barack Obama.

But Trump is also taking hits from people who have generally supported him, but who feel he is failing to live up to his promises. One such example is a recent column by Ann Coulter, who criticizes Trump for supporting the Ryan-Trump American Health Care Act as the replacement for Obamacare, and for his slow start on getting control of the illegal alien issue and border security. Coulter says that “This is starting to look like every other Republican administration.” Yes, his administration is just two months old, so maybe it’s too early to judge on those issues.

Another issue that is raising concern is how Trump is doing on foreign policy and national security matters. Does President Trump need additional assistance in vetting his nominees to administration posts? An examination of his national security appointees raises the question of whether his team knows what questions to ask, and if they are properly vetting his staff.

The political activities of former Defense Intelligence Agency director Michael Flynn, who also served a short time as national security advisor to Trump, demonstrate the administration’s inadequate scrutiny. Flynn resigned for “withholding the full story of his communications with Russia’s ambassador,” reported The New York Times. But that wasn’t the end of the conflicts of interest. After leaving office, Flynn retroactively registered as a foreign agent working on behalf of Turkish interests; he had earned $530,000 for that work. If Trump’s team wasn’t aware of this, they should have been, just by paying attention to the public record, including a column that came out on Election Day that read like a paid advertorial for the Turkish government.

Although Flynn’s contract ended in November, the Times reported that a transition lawyer and a White House lawyer told Flynn that it was “up to him” whether to disclose his activities.

Trump’s pick for Defense Secretary, retired Marine General Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis, initially selected as undersecretary of defense for policy Anne Patterson, who inspired Egyptian protests due to her support for the Muslim Brotherhood. “She [Patterson] came under fire for cultivating too close a relationship with the regime and for discouraging protests against it—and White House officials are voicing concerns about those decisions now,” reports Politico. Criticism of Patterson, and an uncertain confirmation process, led Mattis to withdraw this nomination.

Personnel is policy, and Trump ultimately holds the reins of power in the administration—if he does not abdicate that responsibility. Calling on 46 U.S. attorneys to tender their resignation was a good first step, and in keeping with past presidents.

But President Trump has signaled his unwillingness to fill many of his political appointee posts. “A lot of those jobs, I don’t want to appoint, because they’re unnecessary to have,” Trump told Fox News. He continued, “You know, we have so many people in government, even me. I look at some of the jobs and it’s people over people over people. I say, ‘What do all these people do?’ You don’t need all those jobs.”

That’s clearly true, but unfortunately, when key personnel spots go unfulfilled, the administration is ceding power to the bureaucracy, which may, in turn, empower those still loyal to Obama and intent on crippling the Trump presidency. “If you don’t have a philosophy, if you don’t have a view, the risk is extraordinarily high that the bureaucracies at the State Department, the CIA, the Defense Department will co-opt the new secretary, the new head of the agency,” argued former UN ambassador John Bolton, speaking as a guest on the Breitbart News Daily show. “The bureaucracy’s policies will become their policy, and then if the White House doesn’t resist, they’ll become the administration’s policy.”

Lee Smith of The Weekly Standard wrote a much talked about piece last week for The Tablet titled, “Will Obama’s Foreign Policy Wizards Save Trump?” “What’s really bizarre is that the Trump team keeps blaming damaging leaks to the press on Obama holdovers—when the Trump team is hiring Obama holdovers,” writes Smith. “They may have caught Anne Patterson before she got past the velvet rope, but Obama people staff key positions elsewhere, on Israel, Iran, ISIS, and Syria issues. Which makes sense, since the policies they are tasked with carrying out are so far exactly the same as they were under Obama.”

By leaving in place Obama political appointees President Trump risks that these people will work to undermine his stated agenda. For example, Michael Ratney, former U.S. consul to Jerusalem, who Conservative Review describes as “one of John Kerry’s closest confidantes,” now heads “the Israeli-Palestinian portfolio at the State Department.”

Smith describes another Obama holdover, “Yael Lempert, a National Security Council staffer from the Obama administration that the Trump team decided to keep on.” Smith quotes a former Clinton official who said that Lempert “is considered one of the harshest critics of Israel on the foreign policy far left. From her position on the Obama NSC, she helped manufacture crisis after crisis in a relentless effort to portray Israel negatively and diminish the breadth and depth of our alliance. Most Democrats in town know better than to let her manage Middle East affairs. It looks like the Trump administration has no idea who she is or how hostile she is to the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Are these rookie mistakes or does Trump not care if his campaign promises regarding Israel, combating the Islamic jihadis, and ripping up the Iran deal go unfulfilled? On the plus side, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is doing great things to re-define America’s role in that institution, after eight years of Susan Rice and Samantha Power occupying America’s seat at the UN.

Trump’s new national security advisor, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, has stated that he believes that radical Islamic terrorism is a perversion of Islam—not an outgrowth of the principles contained within that religion. The New York Times reports that McMaster “told his staff” that “‘radical Islamic terrorism’ was not helpful because terrorists are ‘un-Islamic.’” That newspaper heralded this as McMaster rejecting “a key ideological view of other senior Trump advisers and signaling a potentially more moderate approach to the Islamic world.” Trump himself doesn’t hesitate to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism.” Shouldn’t they be on the same page?

What this demonstrates, in fact, is McMaster’s blindness toward the roots of Islamic terror. As long as he remains the national security advisor to Trump, his rhetoric should be considered sanctioned by the administration.

Even more disturbing are rumblings that Trump may renege on his promise to “rip [the Iran deal] up.” In an opinion column for CNN, “Why Trump won’t tear up Iran nuclear deal,” David Andelman argues that “you don’t hear that ‘rip it up’ language any longer. And you won’t.” Reuters reports that the Trump administration is using the same messaging to the Board of Governors as used under Obama: “Iran must strictly and fully adhere to all commitments and technical measures for their duration.” Lee Smith pointed out that “former National Iranian American Council (NIAC) staffer Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, Obama’s NSC director for Iran, is now on the policy-planning staff in Trump’s State Department.” NIAC is effectively the Iran Lobby in the U.S.

If Iran is supposed to honor their commitments in the unsigned deal, will Trump also uphold the misguided U.S. political commitments as well? Trump’s pick to head the CIA, former Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS), has called this agreement “nothing more than a press release and just about as enforceable.”

It is the media’s responsibility to hold Trump accountable for keeping his promises to the American people, instead of working to undermine his policies. But Trump needs to do a better job of filling key positions and vetting the people who are making and carrying out his policies. Otherwise, his administration could turn out to be a disaster.


Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.

03/21/17

Trump vs. Fox News on Wiretapping

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

President Donald Trump is usually a fan of Fox News, but his opinion may now be changing. Fox News has been caught misrepresenting its own interview with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) on the subject of alleged wiretapping of President Trump, in order to make Trump look bad. The cable channel also threw one of its own commentators, Judge Andrew Napolitano, under the bus for highlighting a possible British role in gathering intelligence on Trump and his associates.

After having Nunes on the network’s “Fox News Sunday” show, Fox News claimed that he said “that phones at President Donald Trump’s campaign headquarters in midtown Manhattan were never tapped during last year’s election campaign, contrary to Trump’s earlier, unsubstantiated assertion.”

But if you listen to the video clip or read the transcript, that is not what Nunes really said.

Nunes actually said, “…the President doesn’t go and physically wiretap something. So if you take the President literally, it didn’t happen.” But Trump has referred to “wiretap” in quotes, to refer to surveillance. Nunes went on, “I think the concern that we have is that are—were there any other surveillance activities that were used unmasking the names” (emphasis added).

Unmasking refers to acquiring the name of a U.S. citizen in a surveillance report, even though that citizen’s personal privacy is supposed to be protected under U.S. law because he/she was not the target of the surveillance that captured the conversation. Trump press secretary Sean Spicer said on Monday, “Before President Obama left office, Michael Flynn was unmasked and then illegally his identity was leaked out to media outlets, despite the fact that, as NSA Director [Mike] Rogers said, that unmasking and revealing individuals endangers ‘national security.’ Not only was General Flynn’s identity made available, Director [James] Comey refused to answer the question of whether or not he’d actually briefed President Obama on his phone calls and activities.”

Nunes explained, “…the one crime we know that’s been committed is that one, the leaking of someone’s name through the FISA system. That is—that is a crime that’s been committed.”

At Monday’s hearing, Nunes repeated in his prepared opening statement, “…it’s still possible that other surveillance activities were used against President Trump and his associates.”

The media highlighted FBI Director James B. Comey’s statement at Monday’s hearing that the FBI and the Justice Department had “no information that supports” President Trump’s tweets about wiretapping.

But where could these “other surveillance activities” have originated? We know that a former British intelligence agent was involved in gathering “intelligence” against Trump in the form of the fake “Trump Dossier,” and was paid by donors associated with the Hillary Clinton campaign. Parts of that “dossier” were passed on to Trump by the U.S. intelligence community.

As we note in our special report, “A Watergate-style Threat to the Democratic Process,” it is well-known that the British NSA, known as GCHQ or Government Communications Headquarters, collaborates with the NSA. In fact, a declassified document on the NSA’s own website confirms NSA/GCHQ “collaboration” dating back decades. Fox News senior judicial analyst and commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano said his sources confirm there was such an arrangement in the matter of the “wiretapping” of Trump and/or his associates.

Fox News immediately threw Napolitano under the bus. “Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano’s commentary,” Fox News anchor Shepard Smith said on-air. “Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-President of the United States was surveilled at any time, any way.”

The phrase, “knows of no evidence,” does not suggest any independent investigation of his information.

One of Napolitano’s sources, former CIA operative Larry Johnson, came forward to say, “I reached out to friends in the intel community and asked them about the possibility that a back channel was used to get the Brits to collect on Trump associates. My sources said, ‘absolutely.’ I later confirmed this via a cutout with a person who is a Senior Intelligence Service executive in the CIA.”

In the face of this evidence of collaboration, NSA Director Mike Rogers tried to insist at Monday’s hearing that the NSA never asked the British to conduct surveillance of Trump. So why did the intelligence community accept and circulate the Trump dossier?

In a letter to Comey, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) noted that not only was the former British intelligence agent Christoper Steele “creating these memos as part of work for an opposition research firm connected to Hillary Clinton,” but that The Washington Post had reported that the FBI had reached an agreement a few weeks before the 2016 presidential election “to pay the author of the unsubstantiated dossier alleging a conspiracy between President Trump and the Russians, Christopher Steele, to continue investigating Mr. Trump” (emphasis added).

Grassley said, “The idea that the FBI and associates of the Clinton campaign would pay Mr. Steele to investigate the Republican nominee for President in the run-up to the election raises further questions about the FBI’s independence from politics, as well as the Obama administration’s use of law enforcement and intelligence agencies for political ends.”

At the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Monday, Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) was still quoting from the discredited Trump dossier.

Although Comey confirmed to the House Intelligence Committee that the investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged relationship with Russian officials continues, there was no firm commitment to get to the bottom of the source (or sources) of the leaks to the media that are designed to damage the Trump administration.

Nunes said his committee wanted to pursue the matter, saying, “Numerous current and former officials have leaked purportedly classified information in connection to these questions. We aim to determine who has leaked or facilitated leaks of classified information so that these individuals can be brought to justice.”

As we argued in our column, “Investigate and Prosecute the Press,” there is a procedure to get to the bottom of at least one of these leaks. That is, to subpoena Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, the recipient of the illegal leak of the classified information naming or “unmasking” Michael T. Flynn.

Here’s what Ignatius, a known mouthpiece for the CIA, reported on January 12: “According to a senior U.S. government official, Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking.”

Subsequently, the Post revealed that, in regard to the Flynn matter, “Nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.”

All of this leaking is illegal, a violation of the Espionage Act. It is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Jeff Bezos, the owner of The Washington Post, has a financial relationship with the CIA and the NSA through the provision of computer cloud capabilities.

On “Fox News Sunday,” Nunes said that “still remaining out there is the unmasking of names and the leaking of names…we have a lot of surveillance activities in this country and I think the concern that the Trump administration has is, you know, were they actually using surveillance activities to know what they were up to, because we know that that happened with General Flynn. We know that his name was unmasked and we know that it was leaked out to the press.”

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was unable to get exact figures from Comey or Rogers on the number of people at these agencies able to “unmask”—and therefore leak—a name. Such a number is absolutely vital in any identification of the leakers.

Comey did admit that the heads of the intelligence agencies and various Obama White House officials could have acquired access to unmasked names. But as Spicer noted at the White House press briefing, Comey would not talk about any discussions he may have had with President Obama on the matter.

It looks increasingly like any serious investigation of the illegal surveillance and leaking will have to be led and conducted by Rep. Nunes. But in going forward, it appears that the Fox News Channel has decided not to pursue the line of inquiry already opened up by one of its own commentators, Judge Napolitano.

Predictably, there are now demands that Fox News fire its senior judicial analyst for offering his own informed opinion based on the facts and his own sources of information.

[UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times and other media are now reporting that Judge Napolitano has been suspended by the Fox News Channel.]


Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected] View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.

03/18/17

A Watergate-style Threat to the Democratic Process

Accuracy in Media


A special report from the Accuracy in Media Center for Investigative Journalism; Cliff Kincaid, Director.
(Editor’s Note: Public hearings on this controversy are scheduled for March 20 and 28 by the House Intelligence Committee.)

Senate Intelligence Committee leaders from both parties, Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Mark Warner (D-VA), have issued a disingenuous statement that “no element of the United States government” surveilled “Trump Tower.” They dishonestly evade the fact that media reporting two days earlier had said that British intelligence operating at U.S. behest had likely been implicated in wiretapping Trump and Trump associates, all at the instigation of the U.S. government.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said on March 16 that Fox News sources have reported through retired Judge Andrew Napolitano that then-President Obama had used two officials to arrange with the British NSA, called GCHQ or Government Communications Headquarters, to carry out the wiretapping of both Trump and Trump associates. (See this AIM guest column.) The British now dispute this claim.

This evasive use of British spying is done in order to leave no American “fingerprints” on the highly illegal operation, as the White House quoted Judge Napolitano. It is a long-standing practice under treaty-like intelligence agreements that British intelligence can use NSA facilities, and vice versa, for shell-game eavesdropping.

The trick is for the two agencies to swap places so that the NSA can deny they are wiretapping, and the GCHQ can deny that they are wiretapping. The Brits are trying to escape in between these moves of what a key expert has called the US-UK “wiretapping shell game.”

This is the first time that news sources have explicitly stated that Obama personally ordered the wiretapping of Trump himself, through Obama officials going to the British, though it has been implied in the past by the suspicious lack of any circumspect denials, even when The New York Times said on January 19 and 20 that “wiretapped communications” went to the Obama White House. No one in the article said “Obama White House—but not Obama personally.”

Consider how one important person—President Trump—got the clear media message that he was indeed the target of the spying: President Trump told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson that he read this New York Times story of January 20 before he tweeted about Obama “wiretapping” him. White House spokesman Spicer quoted from this article.

Continue reading

03/18/17

Obnoxious Liberal “Journalists” Caught on Tape

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

It’s no secret that the Trump administration has established a “new paradigm” in dealing with the press. It’s something we have advocated from the start of the new administration. One major aspect of the new approach is accepting the conservative media as legitimate members of the press. After this produced changes in how the press covers the State Department, the gnashing of teeth really began.

Liberal reporters weren’t interested in the anniversary of the conflict in Syria that has taken 500,000 lives. They wanted to know why a reporter from a conservative outlet was allowed on a State Department plane to Asia. They saw it as a challenge to their power and authority, and peppered the State Department spokesman with hostile questions.

“Can we move beyond this?” pleaded Mark C. Toner, the acting spokesperson, as reporters displayed their selfish attitudes on press access.

The liberal media were in meltdown mode over the decision to bring Erin McPike of the Independent Journal Review (IJR) on the official plane carrying Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Asia.

A Reuters story, “Conservative website only media on Tillerson plane to Asia,” captured the sorrow. In the briefing room, the sorrow erupted into grief and barely-controlled anger.

“This is a conservative outlet,” protested Michelle Kosinski, a Senior Diplomatic Correspondent for CNN, referring to IJR. She added, “For the White House, or whoever made this decision, to choose an organization that is not part of the pool and is an obviously conservative website or whatever you want to call it, doesn’t that narrow the message and not broaden it? And what message does this send to the American public and the rest of the world?”

The message it sends is that the old liberal media, also known as the “obviously liberal” media, are not as important as they once were. It means that the new Trump administration wants to accommodate the new media.

Please take a moment to watch or read a transcript of the State Department’s March 15 briefing. It is something to behold. Some reporters seemed on the verge of an emotional breakdown. Actually watching the briefing gives you an insight into the reporters berating the spokesman for the department. They are not identified by name in the transcript.

The State Department acknowledges trying to reach a new audience by including a conservative reporter. Toner called it looking outside the box. He explained, “I think it sends a message that we’re willing to look at new paradigms with our approach to the media, again, while at the same time ensuring that traditional media has full access, and non-traditional media for that matter.”

It is a realization that the liberal media monopoly is still in the process of disintegration.

The new way of doing business was not acceptable to CNN’s global affairs correspondent Elise Labott, who countered, “So does that mean that in your effort to include a broader participation of U.S. media, that the foreign policy journalists and diplomatic press corps that have traveled with the secretary for ages and are steeped in the issues of foreign policy and that are at this podium questioning about U.S. policy and the various developments every day are being kind of excluded?”

You get the point: only the established liberal media “steeped in the issues of foreign policy” have the credentials to cover the State Department and get special seats on a State Department plane.

Keep in mind that reporters can still take other flights to the destination to cover the secretary of state.

Labott’s foreign policy expertise was exposed in emails released during the presidential campaign showing that she worked with an aide to Hillary Clinton to discredit Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for his tough questioning of the then-secretary of state during a Benghazi hearing in 2013. AIM’s Don Irvine called Labott “nothing more than a shill for the Democrats, masquerading as a reporter.”

It appears that somebody in the White House and/or the State Department understands this as well.

Yet, the arrogant Labott insisted that the IJR reporter “does not know anything about these foreign policy issues.”

Later, at the briefing, another reporter protested the new “pick-and-choose system whereby you select individual reporters or news organizations, rather than going with what had previously been the practice, which is to include a wide array of news organizations, and at a minimum, a wire service reporter who would share the information with all the other regulars and whose news organizations have very wide dissemination of their reports?”

Of course, the fact is that conservative media are able to disseminate information as well, and their audiences count for something, too.

A new day is dawning.


Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected] View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.

03/17/17

Self-Appointed Arbiters of Fair and Balanced News

By: Roger Aronoff | Accuracy in Media

A recent Washington Post article by media reporter Paul Farhi raises the alarm that the White House Correspondents’ Association has not once, but twice, assigned a Daily Signal employee, Fred Lucas, to be the pool reporter, i.e., the reporter who serves as the “proxy for the rest of the press corps.” The Daily Signal is the “news and commentary site” founded by the conservative Heritage Foundation, he reports, labeling it an “advocacy organization.”

“In other words,” writes Farhi, “the news that reporters received about the vice president came from a journalist employed by an organization with a vested interest in the direction of White House and federal policy.”

The idea that the so-called mainstream press somehow stands above its own vested interests, or, put another way, against their own agenda, is laughable at best. The distinction between biased advocacy news organizations and the supposedly independent press has not only blurred—it has become obsolete. Organizations such as The Daily Signal and Breitbart are just as capable of speaking truth to power as media outlets such as The New York Times, the Post, ABC, CBS, NBC and MSNBC.

In fact, it is these supposedly impartial news organizations that have continued to lobby for the leftist agenda. When President Obama was in office, they not only worked to legitimize and enhance the Obama legacy, ignoring scandal after scandal, but they even tried to influence the Supreme Court to uphold Obama’s signature legislation, Obamacare.

The deceit of the media didn’t stop there. Under Obama, the media consistently portrayed the economy as recovering even though the labor participation rate remained at abominable levels. A vast number of the jobs supposedly created in the Obama years were part-time, many lasting for just weeks at a time. The unemployment rate dropped to under five percent only because millions of people gave up looking for work, not because the economy was booming. Moreover, Obamacare prevented millions of people from getting a full-time job based on the disincentives built into Obama’s signature program.

A case in point is the coverage of the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) report scoring the proposed Republican legislation intended to replace Obamacare. The headlines and stories focused on the “24 million” people who would “lose health insurance coverage by 2026.” But as The Weekly Standard pointed out, the CBO report doesn’t actually say that. What it does say is that “the total number of individuals insured under the Republican plan would eventually be 24 million fewer than the total insured under Obamacare” by that time.

Ironically, it was just a year ago that The Weekly Standard reported that the CBO had been off on another one of its projections on Obamacare by, you guessed it, 24 million people. That error was the average number of people who would have private insurance during any month in 2016, and it took just three years from the 2013 projection to show that the CBO overestimated it by 24 million. In addition, more than six years after the passage of Obamacare, there were still 29 million people who had no health insurance at all, even though the law required it. The price for not buying insurance is a fine, later re-defined as a tax, in order to have it ruled constitutional.

The point is that the so-called mainstream media will grab onto whatever they can to put Republicans and conservatives on the defensive, so they are forced to explain how they can be so cruel as to cause 24 million people to “lose their insurance.” They rarely offer anything close to the proper context to help people understand what the Republicans are trying to do. How many tens of millions of people have seen their premiums and deductibles skyrocket, or lost their ability to keep their doctors or their policies, or have been unable to find a full-time job because of the employer mandates imposed by Obamacare? Do those numbers matter? Apparently not.

The conservative media also have an agenda, but at least they are generally transparent about it. The leftist, mainstream media pretend to be neutral, biased only for a good story. But they rarely acknowledge that they deceitfully work to cover for the policies and scandals of the Democrats, while working to destroy conservatives and their policies, treating them as cruel and venal.

And in the heat of the 2016 campaign season, WikiLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 revealed the Democrat Media Complex, where reporters would have cocktails with the Hillary Clinton campaign. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos previously worked for the Clintons and later gave donations to their foundation without properly disclosing his actions. This is par for the course with the complicit media. The idea that “independent” news organizations somehow lack conflicts of interest is absurd.

Farhi expresses concern that “The Daily Signal’s inclusion in the pool could set a precedent for other advocacy organizations…” He even goes so far as to suggest that the “slope could become even more slippery if extremist or racist organizations sought similar status.”

It seems preposterous to assume that allowing a foundation’s publication to communicate with other reporters will somehow result in rampant racism and extremism. This is the same type of inflammatory rhetoric used against President Donald Trump and his senior advisor Steve Bannon.

Yet, even Farhi tacitly admits that there is no real need for concern when he writes that “there were no objections to Lucas’s pool reports on [Vice President Mike] Pence” and that Lucas’ reporting merely crossed a “symbolic” line.

The Post isn’t the only paper spewing vitriol about conservative’s newfound influence over the White House press corps. The New Yorker’s Andrew Marantz claims that the press sees the rising influence of conservative reporters, or “far-right sites,” as an “existential threat.”

Marantz writes, “Outlets that have become newly visible under the Trump Administration include One America News Network, which was founded in 2013 as a right-wing alternative to Fox News; LifeZette, a Web tabloid founded in 2015 by Laura Ingraham, the radio commentator and Trump ally; Townhall, a conservative blog started by the Heritage Foundation; the Daily Caller, co-founded in 2010 by Tucker Carlson, now a Fox News host; and the enormously popular and openly pro-Trump Breitbart News Network.” He goes on to quote an anonymous “radio correspondent” as saying, “At best, they don’t know what they’re doing…At worst, you wonder whether someone is actually feeding them softball questions…You can’t just have a parade of people asking, ‘When and how do you plan to make America great again?’”

Under Obama, the press consistently used administration statistics and reports in its friendly, fawning reporting designed to further the Obama legacy. Now that President Trump has taken office, the press has reinvested in oppositional journalism, fact-checking minutiae and claiming that Trump has colluded with Russia. This is a blatant double standard.


Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.

03/16/17

Media Kiss Brass as America’s Enemies Grow Stronger

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

With massive leaks of classified information, some of them stemming from undiscovered moles in the intelligence community, the media continue treating former officials of the CIA and NSA who have presided over this debacle with honor and respect.

The Business Insider article, “7 things the CIA looks for when recruiting people,” is one of the worst examples of this obsequiousness. It is a plug for a book by former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden, Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror. Hayden was once photographed with former CIA/NSA analyst Edward Snowden, who fled to Moscow after disclosing classified information that helped our enemies. Snowden posted the photograph on his Twitter page.

Hayden can’t be personally faulted for Snowden’s betrayal, but the series of leaks from the intelligence community certainly has cast doubt over hiring practices within the CIA and the NSA. Ironically, this is the subject that Business Insider wanted to know more about. In a video interview with the publication, Hayden “explains what the Central Intelligence Agency looks for in a candidate.” He listed the following characteristics as being attractive in a candidate: a second language, life experience, success, foreign travel and living in a foreign country.

He failed to mention love of country and living a moral lifestyle. He did say that the CIA goes to college fairs looking for candidates, and “We go to Arab-American week up in Dearborn, Michigan.” He explained, “Have a big tent up there where we talk to Americans of Arab descent. We recruit just like any other enterprise.”

The recruitment of Muslims during an “age of terror” involving radical Islamic terrorism is obviously problematic. But the idea of recruiting college students is also questionable. I asked former CIA intelligence officer Michael Scheuer who was behind the most recent leak of classified information from the CIA and he suggested it might be a product of our “rotten educational system that offers nothing in civic education or loyalty to the country.”

Scheuer, who ran the Osama bin Laden unit and retired in 2004 after a 22-year career, told me in an interview that when he joined the agency he was interrogated over potential background problems such as homosexuality and narcotics. By contrast, Obama’s CIA director John Brennan said he joined the agency after voting for the Communist Party USA ticket and got accepted anyway. Under Brennan, Scheuer noted, the CIA held a month-long celebration of LGBT “nonsense.” He added, “They’ve staffed the whole agency with it. The Obama administration definitely salted our security services and military services with people who felt like the Democrats are their protectors.” The implication is that these people may be behind the anti-Trump leaks coming out of the intelligence community.

The intelligence community is spared serious scrutiny for the obvious reason that journalists depend on their “anonymous sources” for news, leads and tips. In this case, the name of the game is taking down Donald Trump. But they could take America down with him.

Hayden wrote his own anti-Trump piece, “Donald Trump Is Undermining Intelligence Gathering,” for the March 9, 2017 New York Times. Interestingly, his book thanks Vernon Loeb, formerly of The Washington Post, for proposing that Hayden write his book. Loeb was supposed to be his collaborator but took a job with the Houston Chronicle instead. Loeb had covered the CIA and the Pentagon for the Post before becoming its metro editor.

With people like Hayden so clueless about the failures of U.S. intelligence in “the age of terror,” we have to wonder if the Trump administration will seek major changes and budget cuts in the intelligence community, which spends $50 billion a year.

Since President Trump first expressed reservations about the work of the intelligence community, the problems have only gotten worse. Scheuer told me that the recent CIA leak gives terrorists the ability to evade hacking tools that were used on their methods of communication.

But rather than examine the hiring practices at the CIA and other agencies, the House and Senate intelligence committees are mostly looking at allegations launched by anonymous sources from within the intelligence community against Trump and his “Russian connections.” These leaks appear to be the fulfillment of what Scheuer alluded to—the revenge of the Democratic staffers and sexual minorities put in place by the Obama administration. They have taken the offensive against Trump in order to protect their privileged positions.

Going beyond this dreadful possibility, the leaks could be a way to divert attention away from moles for Russia or China in the CIA and other agencies. This would be a classic case of communist-style disinformation.

Meanwhile, we can expect more damaging leaks, leading to possible terrorist attacks or blindness regarding the nuclear capabilities or intentions of countries like North Korea and Iran.

If this traitorous conduct within the intelligence community continues, and Congress spends its time on other matters, the only alternative Trump might have is to drastically cut the intelligence community’s $50 billion budget. Perhaps that would get their attention.


Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected] View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.

03/14/17

The End of Taxpayer-funded Public Broadcasting?

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

The liberal media have always had an advantage over conservative media because of their billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies. But now, if the Trump administration has its way with the budget, the liberal media may be reduced significantly in size.

“Public Radio and Television Stations Face New Threat of Budget Cuts” is the headline over a Wall Street Journal article about proposed Trump administration budget cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and public broadcasting. These cuts “are being considered to offset the Trump administration’s proposed increase in defense spending,” the paper said.

Almost $13 billion has been spent by Congress on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) since 1969.

The Heritage Foundation’s “Blueprint for Balance: A Federal Budget for 2017,” proposes the complete elimination of the CPB, saving the taxpayers $445 million in fiscal year 2017. The CPB funds public radio and TV.

Accuracy in Media, the oldest media watchdog group, has long argued for the elimination of taxpayer subsidies for public television and radio. “There was a time when non-commercial public broadcasting may have offered an alternative that people couldn’t find elsewhere,” we pointed out back in 2005. “With the rise of cable television and talk radio, however, U.S. taxpayer underwriting of television and radio is no longer needed. The public should not have to subsidize public broadcasting through tax dollars or tax breaks.”

Since then, many more options have become available, including Internet-streaming television services such as Roku, which enable consumers to bypass cable and satellite TV.

Earlier this year Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) introduced two bills, H.R. 726 and H.R. 727, to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio (NPR). In a statement he declared, “With the national debt nearing a staggering $20 trillion, the government cannot continue to subsidize private organizations that are more than capable of being fully privately-funded. This is not about content, as CPB certainly airs some quality programs; the point is that it is perfectly capable of standing on its own two feet and not on the financial shoulders of the American taxpayers.”

Examples of biased public radio and TV programs are numerous. In his December 16, 2016 AIM Center for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) report, “Ken Burns: Student of History—or Left-Wing Gasbag?,” writer Arne Steinberg documented how PBS documentary creator Ken Burns is “a significant cog in the left-wing propaganda machine,” based on his service to the Democratic Party and opposition to Donald Trump.

The Heritage Foundation’s Hans A. von Spakovsky drew attention to this year’s scheduled participation by PBS vice president Toby Chaudhuri in a “partisan gathering intended to organize political resistance to Donald Trump and Republican legislators.” The anti-Trump event was titled “The Rise Above Conference.” Sponsors included the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU.

Speakers included Dawn Laguens of Planned Parenthood on “Activism 201: Sustaining a Movement,” and Mark Schauer of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee on “The Reality of 2018 and the Hope for 2020.”

Having served as deputy press secretary to Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign, Chaudhuri worked with President Obama’s administration on “race-based initiatives and democracy and governance projects around the world for the U.S. State Department.” He also worked for then-Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

After word of his participation in the anti-Trump event leaked out, PBS issued a statement saying that Chaudhuri had been notified last year that his employment was ending and that he was due to leave PBS prior to the controversial partisan event. “His participation in this event was not approved by PBS,” it said. “His role as described would be a violation of our commitment to nonpartisanship.”

Chaudhuri had served in the position of Vice President for Strategic Communications and National Partnerships at PBS.

With the new federal budget proposal scheduled for public release on Thursday, one can anticipate that officials at public broadcasting will be putting on their non-partisan faces, in order to avoid proposed cuts. We at AIM have heard this song many times before.

The media will play their familiar roles, as The New York Times is already out with a story about how Trump is proposing to “slash” areas such as public broadcasting, and how poor people will suffer as a result.

Perhaps Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire who underwrites the operations of the Times, can pick up the projected decline in funding for public broadcasting.

The largest stockholder in the paper, Slim’s net worth is $50 billion, according to Forbes. He could easily fill the void of $445 million that would be eliminated in taxpayer subsidies for public TV and radio. Or perhaps another billionaire, Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, could write a check.

Then, of course, there’s always George Soros.


Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected] View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.