Politics

Comey Delivers Media an Anonymous Source Reckoning

Press struggles to respond after fired FBI director obliterates months of Russia-frenzy reporting

Former FBI director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Select Committee exposed the mainstream media as fake news peddlers — exactly as President Donald Trump has characterized them. Not only did Comey finally state unequivocally that the president was never under FBI investigation for Russian collusion, but he also eviscerated The New York Times story that served as progenitor of the Trump-Russia hysteria.

The lede of The Times story Comey debunked was, “Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.”

Comey, during his Senate testimony Thursday, said of the story, “The challenge — and I’m not picking on reporters—about writing stories about classified information, is that people talking about it often don’t really know what’s going on.” Translation: These people are fake-news pushers.

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So much for the Trump-Russia collusion narrative that Democrats and the mainstream media have been harping on for months. The Trump-Russia collusion narrative that has been the star of countless CNN chyrons. The Trump-Russia collusion narrative that has eroded the president’s approval rating. The Trump-Russia collusion narrative that has forced the president to spend political capital on fighting nonsense instead of on his America First agenda.

That narrative sleeps with the fishes. It has shuffled off this mortal coil. Only the little boy from “The Sixth Sense” can see it now. It’s dead. It’s so dead that any media outlet that continues to treat it as real news should be forced to place a giant tin-foil hat on top of its building. It’s so dead that conservatives are starting to seem like John Cleese’s description of the parrot he’s trying to return to the obstinate pet-store owner. “It’s passed on! This parrot is no more! It has ceased to be!” The Trump-Russia collusion narrative is 100 percent, six feet under, wearing-the-pine-overcoat dead.

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Good riddance to bad journalism.

In a world where the news media aren’t driven by Democratic Party talking points, Trump-Russia collusion would never have made headlines to begin with. But we live in a world of CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. We live in a world with people like Joe Scarborough and Rachel Maddow, who don’t mind being dead wrong as long as they have a daily pile of Trump-trashing material. The big mystery is not whether Trump colluded with the Russians but how these people were able to report it without clothespins on their noses.

Anonymous sources are now the Bernie Madoffs of journalism. Trust them at your own peril, and be prepared to look foolish when you get burned.

Anyone who cares about facts, logic and evidence already knew President Trump wasn’t under FBI investigation. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) told us a month ago. After they were briefed by Comey about who was under investigation, Grassley said, “The president’s letter said that Director Comey told him he was not under investigation. Senator Feinstein and I heard nothing that contradicted the president’s statement.” Then, Feinstein agreed with Grassley’s assertion.

After Comey’s testimony, even ultraliberal Chris Matthews showed up to the Trump-Russia collusion funeral, saying the narrative “came apart” and citing Comey’s statement that “Flynn wasn’t central to the Russian investigation” and Comey’s characterization of the president as being okay with an investigation of the “satellites” of his operation.

Meanwhile, during Comey’s testimony, CNN was correcting a story that had reported Comey would testify that he never told President Trump that he wasn’t under investigation. Oops! Turns out Comey told President Trump three separate times that he wasn’t under investigation — the one and only fact executive-branch bureaucrats managed to keep safe from the leak-happy deep-staters. And ABC was forced to correct a similar story based on false information from anonymous leaks.

Left-wing pundits and Twitter trolls excoriated anyone who wasn’t willing to blindly believe every anonymous leak the media rolled out. Then, we find out from Comey that the four leakers who provided the legs for the Trump-Russia narrative were total frauds. And — as if that weren’t enough to discredit the media’s “inside sources,” it turns out that the first leaker outed, Reality Winner, wanted to “burn down the White House” and “find somewhere in Kurdistan to live.” Ouch. The media have been abusing the use of anonymous leaks, and now the practice has been discredited in one fell swoop.

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This was bound to happen. It was clear all along that deep-state leakers sought to proliferate the fake Trump-Russia narrative, not because it was true, but because forcing President Trump to spend political capital fighting it was the best way to ensure that Obamacare didn’t get replaced, working-class people didn’t get a tax cut, and nobody would ever lay a single brick of President Trump’s border wall. Anonymous sources are now the Bernie Madoffs of journalism. Trust them at your own peril, and be prepared to look foolish when you get burned.

Comey dealt a death blow to the Trump-Russia collusion story and completely exposed the mainstream news media. This cements their worse-than-cockroaches reputation. Time magazine and its BS-meter-busting cover image of the White House merging with the Kremlin. Buzzfeed and their debunked Trump-Russia dossier. The New York Times and its fake exposé based on information from four anonymous leakers. Every echo-chamber outlet, Democratic politician, and progressive pundit who echoed The New York Times story. ABC and CNN, which issued corrections to their anonymous-leak-based stories about what Comey would say in his testimony.

Thanks to Comey, the Trump-Russia collusion narrative is dead, and anonymous-source journalism has been irreparably discredited.

Eddie Zipperer is an assistant professor of political science at Georgia Military College and a regular LifeZette contributor.

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