The news broke today that Donald Trump leaked highly sensitive and classified information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. The White House has denied the allegation, calling the story “false”, but the astonishing revelation originally reported by the Washington Post, has now been confirmed by Buzzfeed, The New York Times and Reuters making it almost certainly true. When several media organizations with similarly credible journalistic practices verify the same story, it is reasonably safe to assume it isn’t false and should be taken very, very seriously.
The right wing media has been working over time to cast doubt on the story, labeling it liberal whining, false, and an overreaction — and one “news” organization in particular simply made up alternate facts to protect the president.
Sean Hannity immediately called the story “fake”:
Looks like more "Fake news". New installment of "Fake News Roundup" on Hannity 10 est FNC. Please watch opening and Mini monologues tonight! https://t.co/R8Ct9oYJdf
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) May 15, 2017
Fox News’s Charles Krauthammer declared that even if Trump did leak highly sensitive info, because he is an idiot it makes Hillary Clinton much worse, because, you know, emails or something. Tucker Carlson spent all night talking about Michelle Obama’s lunch program and Venezuela:
— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) May 16, 2017
And finally Breitbart.com went full InfoWars declaring that not only did the “Deep State” leak the highly classified info to the Post, but Trump didn’t actually leak anything, but he sort of did because he’s president and can do it legally anyway. The reporter, Kristina Wong, declared (with no evidence of course) in her headline that:
Deep State Leaks Highly Classified Info to Washington Post to Smear President Trump
The site also ran another defiant headline linking to the same story stating:
LOL: Reporters Negate Oversold Headline in 7th Paragraph
Here’s the intro to the story:
Current and former U.S. officials, supposedly concerned that President Trump had shared some “highly classified information” with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador to the U.S. last week, leaked that information to the Washington Post in an article published Monday.
However, the report admits that it is “unlikely” Trump broke any laws.
“As president, Trump has broad authority to declassify government secrets, making it unlikely that his disclosures broke the law,” the report said.
In addition, his national security adviser, who was at the meeting, told the Post nothing was shared that was not already publicly known.
“At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly,” said Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster.
The story is classic Breitbart — factually wrong and intellectually completely incoherent. Firstly, the “Deep State” (whatever that means) didn’t leak anything to the Washington Post — it was, as the Post described, “current and former U.S. officials”. That means the leak came from inside White House (and someone clearly trusted by Trump given the extent of the details), not members of the CIA, FBI or any other dastardly governmental organization in bed with Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. Secondly, after Trump reportedly blabbed to Lavrov and Kislyak, senior White House officials “took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency,” and have refused to comment on it publicly. So contrary to Breitbart’s reporting, the “Deep State” has in fact tried to help Trump with his monumental error, ostensibly in order to limit the damage.
It is worth remembering that Breitbart.com is the sacred space of all things Alt-Right, the politically dominant philosophy of our time and the new establishment media. For those of us who have followed the site for a number of years, this shoddy, misleading “reporting” is nothing new — it is standard protocol for the site founded by a frothing at the mouth blowhard and taken over by a pseudo white nationalist, fifth rate documentary maker (who is currently residing in the White House). It is no wonder half the country seem to believe the mainstream media is lying to them — when sites like Breitbart create a completely alternate reality, those without a decent education or any knowledge of how journalism media works will have a hard time discerning what is real and what is not. Of course Breitbart trades off of this and has now turned its blatant propagandizing into a real force in the American news media.
It would be funny if it wasn’t so utterly tragic.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.