Journalists are downplaying news that the DNC and Clinton campaign were behind the funding of a salacious dossier alleging Trump ties to Russia, which The Washington Post revealed Tuesday.
According to WaPo, Marc E. Elias, a lawyer for the Clinton campaign and DNC, and his law firm, Perkins Coie, hired Fusion GPS last April to investigate Trump with the help of Christopher Steele, a former British spy. The Steele dossier was reportedly used by the FBI to form part of its investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. (RELATED: BOMBSHELL REPORT: Clinton Campaign And DNC Funded Trump Dossier)
The most salacious details in the dossier remain unconfirmed, and the partisan backing of the document raises questions about its credibility. But, journalists are now redirecting the conversation away from who paid for its contents and spreading mistruths in the process.
Dan Gillmor, a journalism professor, tweeted that “GOP started” the funding for the dossier, which is inaccurate. An anonymous GOP donor paid Fusion GPS for standard opposition research, but bowed out before Fusion ever hired Steele to create the dossier alleging Trump ties to Russia.
Re Steele dossier funding: Republicans want you to think it’s a scandal that Democrats picked up a project the GOP started first.
— Dan Gillmor (@dangillmor) October 25, 2017
Brian Fallon, a CNN contributor and former Clinton spokesman, also conflated the payment for opposition research with the funding of the dossier. In further tweets, Fallon insisted the contents of the dossier were the important part of the story despite the fact that most of it remains unconfirmed.
Some of the Republicans pouncing on dossier story tonight are surely in for a self-own when we learn who funded project during GOP primary.
— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) October 25, 2017
An executive producer for MSNBC’s Velshi & Ruhle was desperate to pedal as far from the DNC and Clinton funding as possible in a tweet she sent to the president. She also incorrectly claimed the dossier was first funded by Republicans, and pointed out that Donald Trump Jr. once met with a Russian lawyer in the hopes of getting “dirt on Clinton.”
#1: Republicans first funded the dossier.
#2: Your son, son-in-law & campaign manager met with Russians claiming to have dirt on Clinton.
— Christina Ginn (@NBChristinaGinn) October 25, 2017
Jim Roberts, a former New York Times editor, insisted that the “real issue” is Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, which, again, remain unconfirmed.
The GOP will use this relentlessly to escape the real issue: Russia’s deep ties to Trump. That’s the story. It isn’t going sway.
— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) October 25, 2017
On MSNBC, Megan Murphy of Bloomberg insisted that journalists should avoid worrying about who paid for the dossier or even the dossier itself and instead should focus on whether or not the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia. But it’s hard to separate alleged collusion from the dossier, as the dossier is an increasingly central part of the Mueller’s investigation.
“It’s kind of a dream Trump talking point now,” she said. “It doesn’t change the fact of the matter that what’s important here… is what were the campaign’s connections to Russia?”
CNN’s John Berman made sure to remind his viewers that some parts of the dossier have corroborated the Russia investigation, although he does not mention that the parts of the dossier that are most damning to Trump have yet to be confirmed.
“The intelligence community has corroborated–whoever paid for it–has corroborated a lot of the information that has been in there to begin with,” Berman asserted.
Adam Entous, who is a CNN contributor and broke the story about DNC and Clinton funding, called the dossier “standard practice.”
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow also made the false claim that a GOP donor was funding Steele’s dossier project even though Fusion did not contract with Steele until after that donor stopped paying them. Maddow also pointed to the fact that the salacious parts of the dossier have not been “publicly disproven,” seemingly taking the burden of proof off of the people making wild accusations.