The media swallowed Christopher Steele’s lies whole. Now a few journalists are mulling over the reasons for this enormous malpractice. Bill Grueskin, a former academic dean at the Columbia Journalism School, asks, “How Did So Much of the Media Get the Steele Dossier So Wrong?”
The answer isn’t very complicated: the media was hopelessly biased against Trump. In its feverish paranoia, it cast him as an agent of the Russians — a charge that made no sense given Trump’s open nationalism and patriotism. That the charge was coming from former admirers of the Soviet Union — John Brennan, who pushed it as hard as anyone, had voted in the 1970s for Gus Hall, a Soviet plant in American politics — made the charge even more preposterous.
Grueskin’s thumbsucker isn’t particularly enlightening. He says in an excusing tone that journalists had to “deal with the fact that many of the denials came from confirmed liars.” Never mind that the claim against Trump — a Democratic Party dirty trick from beginning to end — was generated by confirmed liars on Hillary Clinton’s payroll. Why did it take over a year for reporters to admit that Steele was not an objective investigator but a paid dirt-digger for Trump’s opponent?
They must have known. After all, Steele was pitching his tissue of lies to reporters all across Washington, D.C., before the election. Did none of them inquire as to why he, a non-American, was so involved in an American election? Did they really think he was running around Washington on his own dime?
It was obvious that Christopher Steele belonged to a circle of liberals and Democrats fulminating against Trump. His dossier was a product of that echo chamber, reflecting nothing more than the rumors and wild speculation of partisans.
Trump was the victim, not the villain, in this farce. Yet Grueskin strains to blame the media’s bogus coverage of it in part on him.
“The situation also became complicated because some reporters simply didn’t like or trust Mr. Trump or didn’t want to appear to be on his side,” writes Grueskin. “He had been berating journalists as charlatans while seeking their acclaim; calling on legislators to ‘open up our libel laws’ to make it easier to sue news organizations; and launching personal attacks, especially on female reporters of color. In a perfect world, journalists would treat people they don’t like the same way they treat those they do like, but this is not a perfect world.”
The media has become an annex of the Democratic Party. That is the fundamental reason for its uncritical treatment of the Steele Dossier. An overwhelming percentage of reporters vote for the Democrats. But Grueskin makes sure to avoid any discussion of that bias.
Consequently, the media, even as it pretended to fret over foreign election interference, became a conduit for Steele’s form of it. He meddled in the election on Hillary’s behalf to great effect. It was his collusion with Hillary that introduced Russian disinformation into the race, sparking not only an FBI investigation of her opponent but also a probe that marred the beginning of Trump’s presidency.
It was the Democrats, not Putin, who wreaked this havoc on our democracy. Rep. Adam Schiff hawked Steele’s lies for years. Yet the media rolls out the red carpet for him as he promotes his book on threats to democracy. Most of the propagandists for the Steele Dossier remain on television, which shows that the media has no remorse for its role in disseminating it. John Brennan frequently turns up on MSNBC to comment on the very scandal that he caused.
That the New York Times and Washington Post won Pulitzer prizes for serving as stenographers to Steele tells you all you need to know about the meaninglessness of those awards. They are simply rewards for liberal propaganda. They go not to the skeptical but to the credulous — reporters who rely almost exclusively on the word of Democratic sources.
Grueskin’s rationalizing piece inadvertently makes reporters look like the most immature partisans, jumping to conclusions on the thinnest of pretexts. In the dominant media, the wall between “opinion” and news completely collapsed, which turned most of the press corps into anti-Trump pundits. Christopher Steele knew that he could capitalize on this prejudice against Trump, and he is still reaping the benefits of it. Fearing a Trump run in 2024, the press continues to give Steele a platform to inveigh against him.
What cries out for correction the most in the media’s stories about the Steele Dossier is not their inaccuracies but the liberal bias that drove them.