May 2, 2018

COLLUSION: Are NBC and CNN Paying Off Top Spies Who Leaked Info With On-Air Jobs?

CNN has never disclosed the close relationship between Evan Perez, one of the reporters on the Jan. 10, 2017 story, and his former Wall Street Journal colleagues who went on to start Fusion GPS, including the company’s founder Glenn Simpson. Nor did the Merriman Smith prize committee acknowledge how the dossier on which the leading lights of the news business have again staked their institutional credibility was disseminated to the public.

That story is now coming into focus with the recent release of seven government documents that together detail a working partnership between spy agencies and the press that helped a political attack meme go viral, even though the evidence on which it was based was demonstrably false. While this type of relationship—let’s call it collusion—may be routine in Third World countries, it does not bode well for the health of the American press, or our democratic institutions. . . .

Nor is Clapper the only source of misinformation to land a paying job with a news outlet he leaked to while ostensibly protecting America’s secrets. Former CIA head John Brennan, another spy chief at the Trump briefing, won a TV deal with NBC in what, if you look at it from the wrong angle—or the right angle—might appear to be a payment in kind for leaking politically charged information and perhaps even classified intelligence. It’s enough to make any real journalist nauseous—or would be, if there were any real journalists left in Washington, as opposed to people who give each other awards for printing stuff that’s spoon-fed to them by oppo shops and spies with clear political agendas. How embarrassing.

If it’s hard to see how the press is going to find its way out of this hole, that’s because the news industry has collectively decided to keep digging. The 2018 Pulitzer for National Reporting wasn’t awarded to a single story, or an individual reporter, or one newspaper’s investigative team. Uniquely, it went to the staffs of America’s two biggest newspapers, the New York Times and Washington Post. The citation congratulates them “for deeply sourced, relentlessly reported coverage in the public interest that dramatically furthered the nation’s understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its connections to the Trump campaign, the President-elect’s transition team and his eventual administration. . . .

It’s hard to imagine anything worse for a democracy than journalists coordinating with political operatives and spies who are paid by the press to leak information about American citizens. But that’s where we are. We have hit rock-bottom.

Oh, I think there’s more bottom to come.

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