Any investment of faith in the Australian media’s reporting of events in Washington will not produce a dividend, as must be obvious after more than 12 months of monkey-see/monkey-cut-and-paste dispatches from our less-than-intrepid foreign correspondents. This is perhaps understandable, given the prevailing Left slant of all local newsrooms, especially the ABC and Fairfax. When their journalists leave for stints Stateside they pack their prejudices along with their socks. Having departed Australia imbued with their media colleagues’ prevailing view that Donald Trump is a scoundrel who must surely be impeached, they naturally turn for story ideas, if not enlightenment, to like-minded American outlets. Hence are Australians served served endless “scoops”about Russian chicanery, the First Lady’s alleged emotional estrangement from her husband and what are purported to be his white-supremacist sympathies.
How derelict is the Australian media in covering the US? Just ask yourself how much you have heard or read about, to name but two scandals, the Obama administration’s bugging of troublesome reporters and its weaponisation of the Internal Revenue Service against political opponents. More recently the coverage of Hillary Clinton’s hacked campaign emails always seem to mention the theft without detailing what was stolen. References to “spirit cooking” and the rigging of the primaries against Bernie Sanders don’t fit the narrative of the world’s smartest, most decent, honest and upright woman having been foiled in her ambitions by Russian perfidy don’t fit the narrative, so they get scant attention, if any attention at all.
Fortunately, unlike the bad old days, the internet makes it possible to keep tabs on developments from a distance and circumvent the media’s gatekeepers. Thus, when fallen-silent Fairfax Media correspondent Paul McGeough reports that Trump’s election unleashed a wave of horrific hate crimes, you can use Google to check the veracity of his story’s headline, “Make America hate again: how Donald Trump’s victory has emboldened bigotry “. Were you to cross-reference the litany of alleged assaults against this site, which tracks bogus “hate crimes”, you’ll find all but one or two incidents have been refuted by police. What you won’t find on the web or anywhere else is an Age, SMH or Canberra Times renunciation of the original reporting — an omission that brings me to the point I’d like to make about the current situation in the US, as understood by an interested layman.
Over the past three or four decades, but especially during the eight years of the Obama presidency, many of the most vital departments of the US government were taken over by what is being called the Deep State. Simply put, the agenda calls for the imposition of borderless edicts concerning the environment, “catastrophic climate change”, identity politics”, open borders and an endlessly expanding range of newly minted “human rights”, each and every one an assault on nations’ individual sovereignty. Perhaps some Deep State operatives actually believe what they preach, but their sincerity or otherwise is beside the point. What is certain is that, when Donald Trump appeared on the political scene, the Deep State was determined to eliminate him, that resolve strengthened mightily by the shock of Mrs Clinton’s “certain” victory being denied by American voters. Arrogantly confident to begin with, that sanguine appraisal of inevitability began to wilt as Trump demolished his rivals in the primaries one after another. Still, they refused to even consider the possibility of him taking the White House. Hillary was a shoo-in, don’t you know; those who fill the opinion pages had no doubt, possibly because they mix with their own kind, listen only to their own kind and repeat what their own kind say. Really, they should get out and about more, then upsets like last November’s election will not come as half the surprise it was.
Still, there were some who nevertheless laid contingency plans in the unlikely event of a Trump victory — you know, just in case. They called it an “insurance” policy, like “the one you might take out for the unlikely event of dying before age 40”, as was referenced in the text message to his over from the FBI agent looking into Mrs Clinton’s private email server.
When Trump won, the Deep State went into panic mode and activated their insurance policies. They had several. The one being hotly debated right now is variously known as the “Steele Dossier” or the “Russia Dossier”. It was compiled over the second half of 2016 by one Christopher Steele, a former British MI6 officer who bills himself as having extensive contacts in Russian security circles. You might remember the initial splash it made over a year ago: Russian hookers, kinky games in bugged hotel rooms, Trump campaign staff and allies meeting clandestinely with KGB assets and so on, etc after improbable etc. John Le Carre, be glad your best-selling plots aren’t so paper thin.
That document was shared between various entities, including the Democrat National Congress, the Hillary Clinton election team (which helped fund its production), plus the Department of Justice and the FBI. The thrust of its propagators’ spin being that Trump, the allegedly honey-trapped candidate, was ushered into the White House on the strength of Russian mischief and remains the Kremlin’s puppet. That none of Trump’s actions since his election — including his bombing of an airfield controlled and operated by Russia’s Syrian ally Assad — lend the slightest credence to this charge matters not at all. When reporters are Democratic Party functionaries with bylines, no surprise there.
The action and headlines of late have focused on the person of one Carter Page, a man who has been under surveillance by various federal security agencies, including the FBI, since at least 2013, due to his well known pro-Russian views and related activities. There is no suggestion he liaised between the Russians and the Trump camp. Nonetheless, he represents the basis of the reason for the alleged “Russian collusion”. The sources of the allegations in the dossier are unnamed, and the FBI’s then-director, James Comey, while testifying to a Senate committee in June, 2017, called the document “salacious and unverified.” Despite that dismissal, Comey’s FBI went on to seek and obtain further renewals of the FISA warrant issued on the strength of the Steele document. Amazing, no? Worth the mainstream media’s attention? Yes, but don’t be silly.
The latest development in the drama is the release of a memo, compiled by California congressman Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and his Capitol Hill colleague Senator Trey Gowdy. This memo is almost entirely devoted to demolishing the stated grounds for surveillance warrants on Carter Page. Such warrants are granted by the highly secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court as specified by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA and expire after 90 days unless a fresh application is submitted to the court with valid reasons reasons for surveillance on every occasion.
The memo asserts — correctly, it would see — that vital information concerning the Russia Dossier, the primary instrument of the application, was repeatedly withheld. It notes, for example, how the court was directed to review press reports of Trump campaign links to Russia as evidence that there was some basis for those suspicions. What it didn’t mention was that those reports were planted by Steele himself, via his network of press contacts. There are useful idiots and there are eager idiots. The journalists briefed by Steele to promote his own handiwork tick both boxes.
Several leading figures in the Justice Department and the FBI signed those applications. Some have seen been demoted, resigned or fired. Does it stop there? Who knows at this stage, but it’s reasonable to suspect Barack Obama was aware and at least tangentially involved. He was, after all, the president and received daily security briefings. Are we to imagine word of his security agencies espionage investigation of a Republican presidential candidate did not cross his desk?
The entire story, with all its byzantine twists, faux claims and media parroting of the worst of it, will undoubtedly fill many books yet to be written. In the meantime, readers can ‘get the latest update from National Review‘s Andrew McCarthy
Trump supporters, especially the authors of the Nunes memo, are calling for all the FISA applications to be made available for the scrutiny of the House Intelligence Committee, or even to the public. Instead, the Democrats have now compiled a “counter memo” which is to be publicly released in the next few days. It is worth noting that the Democrats, the Justice Department, the FBI and the MSM all fought tooth and nail against the release of the Republican memo, while there is not a dissenting voice to be heard against the releasing of the “counter memo”. Take all that as an indication one side has something it would prefer not to see the light of day.
As for the media, one suspects they have their own frustrated preference, in this case a very simple one: if only it had been a Republican president presiding over such a nest of dark doings, lies and malfeasance, they would be able to cover it boots and all.