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I’ve now waded through 34 of the 53 transcripts. Still no evidence of collusion or conspiracy. For my prior post go here.
We’ve often talked at Ricochet about how the media and progressive echo chamber works and its power in the public imagination. Reading the transcripts provides yet another example. The interview of Evelyn Farkas (June 26, 2017) has already made news, at least in non-progressive circles (it appears to have been blacked out elsewhere). Ms. Farkas is a Democrat, a long-time national security policy person and a staff member of Senate Armed Service Committee and Deputy Asst Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia during the Obama Administration, and is now running for Congress in New York. Like so many Obama refugees she became a commentator, in her case, on MSNBC. In March 2017, she made headlines by urging all her former colleagues to get out all the information they had, even if classified, on Russian election interference and implied she had evidence of collusion with the Trump campaign.
Conservative commentary has focused on her responses to questions at the Intelligence Committee interview that she actually had no information regarding any collusion or conspiracy by the Trump campaign with Russia (see page 12 of transcript). In other words, she knew nothing of substance despite her claims on MSNBC. She even went further, telling the committee, “Russia has not interfered in our elections in the past” (p.16) despite the Intelligence Community Assessment of January 2017 which stated Russia had interfered in the past.
But what really caught my eye was this back and forth between Rep Trey Gowdy and Farkas (p.27):
Gowdy: You also didn’t know whether or not anybody in the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia, did you?
Farkas: I didn’t.
G: When then, why did you say what you said?
F: Because I had a strong suspicion.
G: Based on what?
F: Based on the media reports –
G: Dr Farkas.
F: – and reporters calling me.
. . .
G: What did you know at the time?
F: I knew what the public knew from reading the newspaper.
That is how it works. Someone is hired with the correct political views and credentials but who does not know anything more than the public. People inside the government leak things about their enemies and friendly media, with no interest in investigating accuracy, act as stenographers, and once one publication prints or airs it everyone else jumps in, and then the “credentialed expert” can act like it is real news. Soon, everyone is just repeating the same story to each other, and because that’s all they hear, it becomes the obvious truth. Economists talk about the multiplier effect of spending but this is the real multiplier effect in action.
The success around these narratives can be seen in the interviews of several witnesses regarding the alleged “softening” of the Republican Party platform on Ukraine, in order to supposedly appease Russia, a story that was an obsession with the minority members of the committee. It’s simply fake news that was planted in the media and became the accepted truth to such an extent the FBI referenced newspaper reporting on it as part of the Carter Page FISA warrant application, a subject I wrote about in January on Ricochet.
Unfortunately, the price of fake news can be heavy. Jeffrey (JD) Gordon, a member of the Trump campaign, and the staffer at the heart of the alleged Ukrainian platform controversy testified on July 26, 2017, “It’s an urban legend that the Trump campaign changed the platform . . . it was false” (p.83) as can be proved by examining the language as I did in my January post. Nonetheless, Gordon went on to say that his life had been destroyed by the allegations. Because of the investigations he had been unable to get a position in the administration, his reputation was damaged, and career prospects limited.
We may despise what the media is doing but cannot ignore the power they wield, particularly the New York Times and the Washington Post which set the agenda and tone for much of the rest of the media. If you don’t live in the Northeast it is easy to underestimate the impact their coverage has on everyone. Even Jared Kushner in his testimony (July 25, 2017), spoke of his father-in-law’s attention to the Times:
“I’d have discussions almost every day with the candidate saying, look: If the New York Times mattered you’d be at 1 percent”. (p.70)