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Friday, December 20, 2019
Why Didn't CNS Writer Tell Readers She Had Answered Lindsey Graham's Question The Day Before?

When you're dedicated to mindlessly and uncritically repeating pro-Trump Republican talking points like is, you forget that sometimes you've already answered some of the questions you've been dutifully writing down, and you forget to tell your readers that.

Susan Jones wrote in a Dec. 11 article about Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham ranting that the Horowitz report exposed a "massive criminal conspiracy" (though not that the report also found that political bias didn't motivate the FBI into investigating Russian connections to the Donald Trump presidential campaign). She went on to write:

Graham also raised the issue of defensive briefings – in other words, the FBI warning people, such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), that one of her employees had ties to a foreign government.

"From the time they opened up Crossfire Hurricane until this debacle was over, they never made any effort to brief Donald Trump about suspected problems within his campaign," Graham said. "Why didn't they tell Trump? We'll figure that out later. But I think it's a question that needs to be asked."

Jones didn't tell her readers that she answered Graham's question in an article just the day before. Under the helpful headline "IG Explains Why FBI Didn't Warn Trump Campaign About Suspected Russian Interference," Jones wrote:

Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he wants to know why Donald Trump wasn't told about the FBI's concerns that individuals associated with his campaign were coordinating, wittingly or unwittingly, with the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.


The inspector general's report addresses the question of "defensive briefings," as they are called.

Former Counterintelligence Division Assistant Director E.W. "Bill" Priestap, the FBI official who approved the launch of Crossfire Hurricane, told the IG that "he considered whether the FBI should conduct defensive briefings for the Trump campaign but ultimately decided that providing such briefings created the risk that 'if someone on the campaign was engaged with the Russians, he/she would very likely change his/her tactics and/or otherwise seek to cover-up his/her activities, thereby preventing us from finding the truth.'

"On the other hand," Priestap said, "if no one on the Trump campaign was working with the Russians, an investigation could prove that. Because the possibility existed that someone on the Trump campaign could have taken the Russians up on their offer, I thought it wise to open an investigation to look into the situation."


The IG report notes that President Barack Obama did suggest that the FBI give Trump a defensive briefing:

"According to McCabe's notes of what he had been told by (FBI Director James) Comey, President Obama stated that the FBI should think about doing 'defensive briefs.' The notes do not provide any further details about what Obama said regarding defensive briefings, and McCabe told us he did not recall that any further details were provided to him. However, McCabe said he surmised from his notes that the briefings under discussion were to be given to the Trump campaign."

Jones could have told her readers this in her Dec. 11 article; after all, the information was fresh in her mind, given that she had provided a detailed explaination of it the day before. Instead, she chose not to because furthering a Republican narrative of raising suspicions about any investigation into Trump -- never mind that the facts are much less sinistser -- was more important than her journalistic duty to tell readers the truth.

Lazy stenography is the worst kind of journalism, and CNS is becoming an increasingly egregious offender.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:09 AM EST

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