January 11, 2019 – 12:30 PM EST
BY JOHN SOLOMON, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR
Counterintelligence investigations are by their very nature complex, nuanced and methodically slow, all facts that today’s news media outlets seem to ignore as they chronicle the Russia collusion probe.
The past week provided fresh examples of how journalists endlessly seeking to portray the Russia probe in black-and-white terms can misinform the public through omission, cherry-picking or lack of context.
On Wednesday, for example, CNN and others ran speculative reports suggesting Russians or Republicans could be involved in a mysterious grand jury subpoena fight involving special counsel Robert Mueller.
The inference was drawn because Alston & Bird was believed to one of the law firms involved in the closed-door litigation. To bolster their case, the media outlets noted the firm had represented Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska (back in 2003) and some conservative clients since.
What the media omitted, however, was that the same firm also represented (in 2017-18) Orbis Business Intelligence and Christopher Steele, the British intelligence operative whose uncorroborated political opposition research document, paid for by Hillary Clintonand the Democratic Party and known as “the dossier,” was essential to the origins of the Russia collusion probe.
If a reporter is going to cherry-pick old clients in a story about Mueller, Steele is just as big a name as any Russian. Yet, zero mention.
Here’s another one. The New York Times – which considers itself a bastion of journalism but whose work of late was questioned by its former editor – wrote a story this week on the federal obstruction-of-justice indictment of Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
The Times connected the indictment’s information about Veselnitskaya’s ties to the Kremlin and her role in a now infamous June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with the president’s son, Donald Jr., and then-Trump presidential campaign manager Paul Manafort.
What the Times omitted, however, was that Veselnitskaya also was working at the same time with Glenn Simpson and Fusion GPS, the opposition-research firm that hired Steele to produce his dossier on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
If Veselnitskaya’s ties to the Kremlin were important to mention for her Trump meeting, then why wouldn’t they be just as important to the guys who helped create the dossier that spurred the Russia probe?
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