Yes, Fusion GPS paid off journalists
Digging through court documents, the Washington Examiner has found an admission from Fusion GPS that it did indeed pay journalists who covered the Trump-Russia collusion "narrative" that Fusion GPS was "researching" and spreading for the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Newly filed court documents confirm that Fusion GPS, the company mostly responsible for the controversial "Trump dossier" on presidential candidate Donald Trump, made payments to three journalists between June 2016 until February 2017.
The revelation could be a breakthrough for House Republicans, who are exploring whether Fusion GPS used the dossier, which was later criticized for having inaccurate information on Trump, to feed anti-Trump stories to the press during and after the presidential campaign. The three journalists who were paid by Fusion GPS are known to have reported on "Russia issues relevant to [the committee's] investigation," the House Intelligence Committee said in a court filing.
Fusion GPS justified its payoffs by saying it paid these reporters only for "research" as if it couldn't get what it wanted any other way and somehow only these people could help research what the company wanted for its DNC and Clinton campaign clients. Kind of like the way they hired Christopher Steele?
It's an odd inversion of the fact that a media company, the Washington Free Beacon, paid Fusion GPS for "research" on Trump at the initial stage of the dossier's assemblage. Think of the weird implication: Media Company A can't get the info it wants, so it pays Fusion GPS to get it, since Fusion GPS supposedly has much better researchers than the Free Beacon's reporters. Fusion GPS in turn pays off reporters from either the same or another media organization for the research because those reporters are supposedly much better researchers than Fusion's hacks. Then, research in hand, it theoretically could have gone back to Media Company A.
What we are seeing here is excuse-making. Fusion GPS paid off journalists for "research" just as surely as if it had paid for commissioned stories. It represents a lawyerly deception to think otherwise. What likely happened is that Fusion GPS bathed these reporters in a "narrative" of "research" the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC wanted out there and then asked them their opinion or something to fulfill the "research" justification. With this media practice going on, and I doubt Fusion GPS was the only practitioner of such "research" with the journos, is it any wonder the press coverage narrative was so uniform?
And more to the point, did the public deserve this? The public was deceived into thinking the mainstream press reports it read about Trump and Russian collusion were reported without fear or favor. Turns out there's fear of exposure for what were a lot of favors in this Fusion GPS situation – in the ever consolidating and increasingly uniform mainstream media. Is it any wonder that with this the general practice, the public trusts the media less than ever? And that a major reason it turned to Trump was that it felt that the press was not giving Trump a fair shake?
The sooner the miscreants who took the Fusion GPS cash for research are exposed and their stories examined, the better. There's a reason Fusion GPS didn't want the reporters' names exposed, and that's the fact that the public would want these people fired if the truth got out about their side dealings. But if there is ever something the public has a right to know, it's the identities of reporters who take payoffs, decline to tell the public, and then go reporting on the very topics they claim to be objectively examining.