Another 'master-canine' relationship: NYT runs interference for the FBI

With the Twitter files revelations, we learned that the FBI had a "master-canine" relationship with the tech barons of Twitter to censor conservative accounts. When the FBI said 'fetch,' Twitter came running.

Well, now we see something probably even more embarrassing from the New York Times and we don't need secret Twitter files to know about it.

The Times has taken to running near-press-releases from the embattled federal agency now under fire for its violations of the First Amendment, with no effort whatsoever to cover its tracks at all. The Times report is full one-sided reporting, packaged in the language of its 'client's' spin.

Here's the headline and subhed:

Historically, the F.B.I.’s critics have come from the left. But the bureau’s array of inquiries into former President Donald J. Trump has turned the tables.

The old "Republicans pounce." 

Note that the headline at the favicon at the top of the tab, if you scroll over it, suggests that the headline had been changed -- it reads 'Former FBI Agents Lodge Accusations of Bias Against..."

Which is a far more significant story. Wonder why the headline was changed?

Well, if you read it, you can probably surmise a guess. The bias accusation is the real story, involving a group of on-the-outs FBI agents calling themselves "The Suspendables" who have objected to the politicization of the agency and been acting as whistleblowers to the incoming GOP Congress, just as Democrats had Eric Ciaramella of the CIA during the first Trump impeachment. They decided to go with "Republicans pounce." 

The Times notes that the "Suspendables" wrote a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray outlining their grievances, but the TImes never printed any of it, nor did it provide a link to the letter, nor did wriggle out of doing either by saying the letter was necessarily secret. They just regurgitated their version of it, which is to say, they brushed it off as a scurrilous accusations.

A majority of the attacks laid out in the Suspendables’ letter to Mr. Wray, who was appointed by Mr. Trump, echoed those by the Judiciary Committee. The panel’s report also condemned the bureau for using counterterrorism tactics to investigate conservative parents at school board meetings — an allegation that seemed to have come from a mischaracterization of the F.B.I.’s plan to track threats of violence against school board officials.

The report further accused the agency of “helping Big Tech to censor Americans’ political speech” — a claim that misrepresented the way the F.B.I. has sought for years to curb online disinformation, especially when it comes from foreign actors. Long before the House report or the letter to Mr. Wray was released, Mr. Trump and his allies in Congress and the news media were already targeting federal law enforcement officers and demonizing those who scrutinized the former president.

 What were their charges? That's the "what" a reader wants to know, in addition to the "who, where, how" and all that.

We don't know. What we can tell by the snide sentence at the bottom of that passage is that their best argument against it is that if Trump said it, it can't be true. Ooh, rimshot!


Two other passages highlight the ad hominem nature of this piece, so characteristic of public relations when the idea is to take the reader's attention off the facts. There's a nasty bid in this story to discredit the agents, which is what the FBI public relations office must be up to, and none of these attacks answer the question posed by the original headline, which is whether the FBI is hounding agents out of its service based on their political registrations.

The first ad hominem is the opening sequence howling about the Suspendables' criticism of a now-retired agent in Florida named George Piro, who they say was involved in the unprecedented raids on President Trump's residence at Mar-a-Lago last August.

The group’s letter also falsely suggested that Mr. Piro, who once ran the F.B.I.’s office in Miami, had played a suspicious role in the bureau’s search this summer of Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald J. Trump’s private club and residence in Florida.

“These claims are absolutely false,” Mr. Piro said in an interview. “I dedicated my life to the country and the F.B.I. I am disappointed that former agents would spread lies about me.”

So the guy wasn't involved in those raids? Or was he involved, and he just doesn't think his role was disgraceful? There is no way of telling from the defense the Times gives. The paper of record wheels out Piro's medals from past service, much the way Alexander Vindmann once did at Trump's first impeachment hearings as if that excuses all bad behavior since. Sorry, Times, you have already been to that well before, it's gotten old.

The point here is that we can't tell if he was involved in the raids or not, the Times didn't want to say. Just the denial, though, unwittingly lets the cat out of the bag that the raids really were disgraceful, disgraceful enough that nobody would want to put their name on them. The Times didn't realize that.

After that, the Times tries to discredit the Suspendables themselves, sounding as though it was carrying water for the embattled agency:

The Suspendables’ letter and the House Republicans’ report were both apparently drawn from statements by former F.B.I. agents who left the bureau under a cloud and then came forward as self-described whistle-blowers. Among them is Steven Friend, a former agent from Florida, who refused to take part in a SWAT raid this summer of a Jan. 6 suspect facing arrest on misdemeanor charges.

“I have an oath to uphold the Constitution,” Mr. Friend, a 12-year veteran of the bureau, told his supervisors when he declined to join the raid on Aug. 24 in Jacksonville, Fla., which he deemed an excessive use of force. “I have a moral objection and want to be considered a conscientious objector.”

Left the bureau under a cloud? That's a broad brush, boys. Were they caught stealing suitcases at airports? Or were they unjustly suspended for attempting to keep the bureau apolitical and focused on crime and national security threats, rather than shutting down conservative Twitter accounts, and investigating parents as terrorists for complaining about the rape of their daughters at school board meetings, or busting small fry involved in petty crimes or simply being in the wrong place during the January 6 crowd-control incident?

This failure to cite specifics has the odor of a smear. What was the "cloud"? The Times didn't say what that "cloud" was. The "self-described" whistleblower modifier is a one-sided smear, too. It sure wasn't a modifier they applied to Eric Ciaramella, was it?

Scott Johnson at Power Line has some important observations about this skeevy account, noting that the Times reporter, Adam Goldman, has quite a history of carrying water for the FBI's political meddling agenda:

Adam Goldman was one of the national security establishment’s go-to reporters for promotion of the Russia hoax. Indeed, Goldman “was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for national reporting on Russia’s meddling in the presidential election.” That’s the way the Times puts it. Those of us who don’t only get our news from the Times now know that it was the FBI more than any foreign government that meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

Today Goldman channels the FBI’s response to the exposure of its role in the Twitter Files. With Alan Feuer, Goldman gives us the “Republicans pounce” variations in “Republicans Step Up Attacks on F.B.I. as It Investigates Trump.”

How bad is it? The story is so bad it has been picked up by the Star Tribune, which of course has yet to inform its readers of the Twitter Files revelations.

Anyone familiar with the news industry can surmise that Goldman is carrying water for his sources because they are hisFBI  sources and he wants them to keep feeding him news tidbits that other reporters can't match, as well as help him fill books with juicy deets for his book deals. That would explain the public relations nature of this lousy report. His sources are likely high level officials on the politicized side of things at the FBI, guys like Andrew McCabe and his ilk. (McCabe, recall, got drummed out of the FBI for lying about his contacts with the press and leaking stories, until he managed to reverse that and get his pension back.) Goldman would know all about these guys.

It's embarrassing enough for a journalist to be seen effectively copying press releases in his reportage. What's astounding is that he keeps going back to them for info, even though they burned him on the Russia collusion hoax with bad information. A normal reporter cuts ties with a source who gives him bad information. Not this guy -- he just keeps going back for more. He seems to like being on the 'dog' side of the master-canine relationship, taking his biscuits from the bureau.

What an embarrassment.

Image: Pixnio // CC0 

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