Scams, Big and Small
George Neumayr
by

The media claims to have learned its lesson after the Jussie Smollett and Covington cases. But, of course, it hasn’t. It can’t resist stories based on anti-Trump prejudice, starting with its favorite one, the allegation that Trump and Russia colluded in the 2016 election.

While browbeating Smollett for his bogus and staged tale of having been beat up at the hands of two Trump supporters, the media listened with bated breath to Andrew McCabe this week as he engaged in his own form of crying wolf: he continues to claim that Trump “may be a Russian asset.” What is his evidence for that? He hasn’t provided any on his many book tour stops.

McCabe’s sensationalistic speculation that the president of the United States is a possible foreign agent is a far more consequential and damaging story to the common good than a half-baked hoax orchestrated by a Hollywood actor. Yet the media shows McCabe’s claim no skepticism whatsoever. They let McCabe speak vaguely about his reasons for authorizing an investigation into Trump. They never ask him about the FBI’s reliance on Hillary Clinton’s opposition research. They never ask him about the Inspector General’s findings that he lied to investigators and engaged in criminal leaking. They let him smear the president without hesitation.

Were it not for the media’s detestation for Trump, McCabe’s book tour would have been embarrassing and rocky. Instead, he regales hosts with a self-serving account that is based upon a series of false assumptions, such as, that Trump’s firing of James Comey constituted an act of obstruction of justice. The media has yet to ask McCabe how that act, which falls within Trump’s constitutional authority, met the FBI’s criteria for treating a president as a probable foreign agent.

Smollett’s hoax no doubt wasted police resources and he will pay a price for that. But will the peddlers of the Trump-Russia collusion claim like McCabe be held accountable for the millions of dollars they have cost taxpayers for a politicized investigation? We’re told that Mueller is finally wrapping up his probe and will shortly send his report to the Justice Department. Judging by the absence of any leaks about Trump-Russia collusion up to this point, the report is likely to disappoint the media and Democrats. Even James Clapper, the stridently anti-Trump former intelligence director, is bracing for the possibility it will come up short in proving collusion.

“I think the hope is that the Mueller investigation will clear the air on this issue once and for all. I’m really not sure it will, and the investigation, when completed, could turn out to be quite anti-climactic and not draw a conclusion about that,” Clapper told CNN. But no sooner had Clapper said that than he threw out the same irresponsible speculation as McCabe about Trump as a possible Russian agent owing to his foreign policy. Clapper said, “The strange thing I think that has bothered a lot of people both in and out of the intelligence community is this strange personal deference to Putin by the president. I’ve speculated in the past that the way Putin behaves is to treat President Trump as an asset.”

A responsible media would call former intelligence officials out for trafficking in such thin claims, not hire them as pundits. But at a time when reporters pride themselves on rejecting “neutrality,” the Clappers, Brennans, and McCabes can count on an uncritical audience. The media has always been overwhelmingly liberal, but as Lara Logan of CBS points out it is now completely free of any journalistic restraints to mitigate that bias even slightly. News and opinion have collapsed into each other, she told podcaster Mike Ritland: “Although the media has always been — historically always been left-leaning, we’ve abandoned our pretense, or at least the effort, to be objective today. That means we’ve become political activists in a sense and, some could argue, propagandists — and there’s some merit to that.”

As a consequence of reducing their profession to a left-wing political party, journalists have become suckers for all manner of anti-Trump stories, no matter how outlandish. They promise to avoid hoaxes in the future and jumping to hasty conclusions, but it is hard to take them seriously when they continue to humor the McCabes in the most misleading story of all.

George Neumayr
George Neumayr
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George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author of No Higher Power: Obama’s War on Religious Freedom.
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