A scandal bigger than Watergate is here. And today’s Woodwards and Bernsteins are missing in action
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were one of the great journalistic duos of the 20th century. Their ground-breaking investigative work for the Washington Post ultimately saw President Richard Nixon resign following the 1974 scandal known as “Watergate”.
What was Watergate? Unknown operatives broke into the Watergate building in Washington DC to photograph documents and bug the office of a Democratic Party hoping to defeat President Nixon at the upcoming election. On tracking down and arresting the criminals, authorities uncovered a chain of command that led all the way back to the upper reaches of the White House and to Nixon himself.
Watergate was so infamous that the English-speaking world has since borrowed the “-gate” suffix to portray any political scandal — serious or otherwise — with intrigue or grave criminality.
Now, a scandal worse than Watergate has just been laid bare in the Durham Report, a 306-page report released on Monday, following a four-year investigation led by Special Counsel John Durham.
However, journalism has moved on. The biases of a new generation of hacks mean that most Americans will never know the contents of the Durham Report. Were Woodward or Bernstein on the beat, most Americans would have known about the current scandal, and not just this year, but as it unfolded blow-by-blow from the summer of 2016.
So what did Durham uncover?
Known colloquially as the Russia collusion hoax or simply “Russiagate”, the scandal travelled in the opposite direction to its namesake Watergate. This time, it was high-profile Democrats upset with the 2016 election of Republican President Donald Trump who embroiled themselves in potentially criminal conduct.
The big takeaway from the report is that the Obama-era FBI launched a full investigation of the Trump campaign, codenamed Crossfire Hurricane, in the summer of 2016 despite having zero evidence of any collusion between Trump and Russia.
Officials at the highest levels of the U.S. government, including President Obama, knew that the entire false narrative that Trump was colluding with Moscow was completely made up by the Clinton campaign in an effort to weaponize the federal government against Trump and distract from Hillary Clinton’s own email server scandal.
The centrepiece of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation was a mostly fabricated document known as the Steele dossier. Its author was former British spy Christopher Steele, paid to compile the slapdash dossier by the Hillary Clinton campaign, who concealed their payments to Steele as legal expenses.
Nevertheless, the secret investigation spawned by so many lies gave the FBI powers to spy on Trump’s election campaign. It effectively shut down his administration for three years of investigation and prosecutions. And its central allegation that Trump was a Russian asset was laundered to an unquestioning media.
Writes Jonathan Turley for the New York Post:
The most essential player in this conspiracy was the media, which pumped up the dossier as gospel. On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow assured her viewers that “no major thing from the dossier has been conclusively disproven.”
CNN host Alisyn Camerota attacked Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and said the dossier “hasn’t been discredited, in fact, it has been opposite, it has been corroborated.” …
Former FBI special agent Peter Strzok was given a job by CNN.
Worst of all, the New York Times and the Washington Post were jointly decorated with the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting for their “work” on the story. Still today, the Pulitzer Prize website recounts their heroic feats:
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.
The world’s most prestigious journalistic outfits trafficked in bona fide disinformation and have been exposed for spreading conspiracy theories. But don’t expect any apologies. In the words of Federalist senior editor John Daniel Davidson:
None of them have recanted their fake stories, and nearly all of them reacted Monday to the Durham report by dismissing it as a “big fat nothing” or, in the words of CNN’s Nicolle Wallace, a “rabbit hole conspiracy” — without a hint of self-awareness that her own network was a chief purveyor of the very real Trump-Russia conspiracy.
Woodward and Bernstein, if retirement isn’t too cosy, we need you back.
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