Using Fake News To Demean Trump Is Wrong

by James M. Wall220px-united_states_intelligence_community_seal-svg

One week before his inauguration, President-elect Trump was dealt an irresponsible, “warped and self-destructive” blow by the CIA and its allies in the media.

This conclusion was reached by Glenn Greenwald, in The Intercept.

Greenwald was quick to point out that the “serious dangers posed by a Trump presidency are numerous and manifest. There is a wide array of legitimate and effective tactics for combating those threats: from bipartisan congressional coalitions and constitutional legal challenges to citizen uprisings and sustained and aggressive civil disobedience”.

But, as Greenwald also noted, “cheering for the CIA and its shadowy allies to unilaterally subvert the U.S. election and impose its own policy dictates on the elected president is both warped and self-destructive”. . .

This subversion involved the granting of official credence to a salacious, unsubstantiated document by a former British MI6 operative which claimed to have proof of conduct in a hotel room by President-elect Trump while he was in Moscow.

The document, which became known as the Trump dossier, originated from “opposition research” funded by enemies of Trump, first by Republicans who opposed his nomination, and then by Democrats who wanted him to lose to Hillary Clinton.

The salacious document, Greenwald writes, “was just an anonymous claim unaccompanied by any evidence or any specifics.”

Of course, the anonymous claim was of a sexual nature. Sex and violence are media’s bread and butter.

The document was circulated through unofficial channels during the presidential race, but on Thursday, January 12, it received a guaranteed ticket to public attention. Greenwald wrote:

At some point last week, the chiefs of the intelligence agencies decided to declare that this ex-British intelligence operative was ‘credible’ enough that his allegations warranted briefing both Trump and Obama about them, thus stamping some sort of vague, indirect, and deniable official approval on these accusations.

What prompted this move from the dark corners of rumor and innuendo, to the glaring sunlight of media attention? Why did the salacious document become sufficiently “credible”?

If you want to believe “the chiefs of the [American] intelligence agencies”, the document was moving so rapidly through social media and other internet channels, that it was necessary to brief both Trump and President Obama.

The intelligence chiefs thus stamped “some sort of vague, indirect and deniable official approval” on what could be pure fiction conjured by a retired British spy now doing political dirty work.

Or, the spy’s document may be rooted in reality. Take your choice. Give it credence, or not. But remember, if there are video or written proofs of the alleged hotel hanky-panky, it has yet to surface or be verified.

So here we are, one week before the inauguration, and our next president is being harassed by unsubstantiated allegations of sexual conduct in Moscow. The harassment continues in the unholy alliance between intelligence agencies and media outlets, initially BuzzFeed and CNN.

What could be behind that alliance? Greenwald offers his answer:

It is not hard to understand why the CIA preferred Clinton over Trump. Clinton was critical of Obama for restraining the CIA’s proxy war in Syria and was eager to expand that war, while Trump denounced it.

Clinton clearly wanted a harder line than Obama took against the CIA’s long-standing foes in Moscow, while Trump wanted improved relations and greater cooperation.

In general, Clinton defended and intended to extend the decades-long international military order on which the CIA and Pentagon’s preeminence depends, while Trump — through a still-uncertain mix of instability and extremist conviction — posed a threat to it.

What changed was the intelligence community’s resolution to cause this all to become public and to be viewed as credible. 

Greenwald opened his piece on the CIA and Trump by recalling the farewell January, 1961 address by outgoing President Dwight Eisenhower. He wrote:

Dwight Eisenhower delivered his farewell address after serving two terms as U.S. president; the five-star general chose to warn Americans of this specific threat to democracy:

‘In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.’

That warning was issued prior to the decadelong escalation of the Vietnam War, three more decades of Cold War mania, and the post-9/11 era, all of which radically expanded that unelected faction’s power even further.

This is the faction that is now engaged in open warfare against the duly elected and already widely disliked president-elect, Donald Trump. They are using classic Cold War dirty tactics and the defining ingredients of what has until recently been denounced as ‘Fake News.’

Greenwald traces the arc along which this “Fake News” traveled from the former spy’s oppo research document to the intelligence agencies and then to the decision by those agencies to brief Obama and Trump.

Once the spy’s document reached the current and next president, Greenwald writes: 

Someone — by all appearances, numerous officials — then went to CNN to tell the network they had done this, causing CNN to go on air and, in the gravest of tones, announce the “Breaking News” that “the nation’s top intelligence officials” briefed Obama and Trump that Russia had compiled information that “compromised President-elect Trump.”. . .

Was the decision to give a vague form of “credibility” to the Trump dossier, well-intentioned? I doubt it. The intelligence agencies have  made what they may consider part of their assignment: Alert the nation on the character of the president-elect.

Is this their governmental role? Wikipedia offers this official definition of the task of the intelligence agencies:

Intelligence is information that agencies collect, analyze, and distribute in response to government leaders’ questions and requirements. Intelligence is a broad term that entails:

Collection, analysis, and production of sensitive information to support national security leaders, including policymakers, military commanders, and Members of Congress.

Safeguarding these processes and this information through counterintelligence activities.

Execution of covert operations approved by the President. The IC strives to provide valuable insight on important issues by gathering raw intelligence, analyzing that data in context, and producing timely and relevant products for customers at all levels of national security—from the war-fighter on the ground to the President in Washington.

Does the deliberate release of negative data on the President-elect during this transition period, fall within that mandate?

That is a question we must all answer honestly. This is no time for lazy, partisan, biased thinking. 

Intense dislike of Trump is not an excuse to merely sanction the actions by our intelligence agencies because we do not like Trump.

Glenn Greenwald is not a lazy thinker. He closed his piece with these words of caution:

There are solutions to Trump. They involve reasoned strategizing and patient focus on issues people actually care about. Whatever those solutions are, venerating the intelligence community, begging for its intervention, and equating its dark and dirty assertions as Truth are most certainly not among them.

Doing that cannot possibly achieve any good and is already doing much harm.

President-elect Trump was elected as our 45th President. He deserves careful scrutiny, and unwavering attention. His public persona is new to the White House. We cannot avoid noticing what he says and how he says it.

Donald Trump will soon be our president. He deserves a fair judgment on what he does once he is in office.

About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years. James M Wall died March 22, 2021 at age 92. His family appreciates all of his readers, even those who may have disagreed with his well-informed writings.
This entry was posted in Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Media, Politics and Elections, Television. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Using Fake News To Demean Trump Is Wrong

  1. Sami Joseph says:

    My understanding from what I learned here in the UK is that the ignominious John McCain was the conduit for the fake dossier. I am inclined to believe that McCain may have even commissioned the dossier. Anyhow, it worth reading Paul Craig Roberts’

  2. Jack Graham says:

    Donald Trump is hated by party-line Democrats, and the major media doing the bidding of a banking cartel on Wall Street acting as the de facto government of the United States since 1913, together with the likes of Meryl Streep, the likes of George Soros, and disloyal Americans who want war or belligerence threatening war with Russia. But Trump, who wants peace with Russia, has been elected President, and will take office in seven days, and he is not hated Americans who elected him. If Hillary Clinton had been elected, there probably would have been something like an armed revolution, so it is not surprising that forces on the left are likewise prone to extreme measures. We now need the truth. Did Trump have business dealings in Russia that might compromise his Presidency? I daresay there will be no evidence forthcoming that he did. Do the Russians have evidence which can be used to blackmail Trump? I daresay they do not. Is there any credible evidence that the Russians hacked our election? I daresay we shall find that the information making Hillary look bad was leaked from the DNC or produced by the FBI or the CIA. Who is willing to wait until we get the facts? I am. — J. R. G.

  3. carol quinn says:

    Unfortunately, our president elect in not behaving in a presidential way is giving tacit approval to much of the outrageous behavior we are witnessing in many quarters. Of course, we must wait. If the CIA is implicated in false news, it is truly reprehensible. But there is much going on that does not in any way inspire confidence in the future of our democracy. And obstruction of passage of any of President Obama’s proposals by the Republican Party over the past eight years has led to the extreme partisanship and deep divisions in our once proud society. Who are the adults here?

  4. AWAD PAUL SIFRI says:

    Great article, analysis, and conclusion, Jim.
    Let the coming weeks and months sift through reality, truths, and untruths.
    That’s when we can start judging, based on facts..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s