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Dems Struggle To Change The Conversation, So They Change The Meaning Of Barr’s Words

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Virginia Kruta Associate Editor
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Democrats appear to be going all-in on a new strategy: changing the meanings of certain words when they don’t like the direction the conversation is moving.

Fox News analyst and author Dr. Gina Loudon raised the issue amid the furor over Attorney General William Barr’s claim that “spying did occur” on the 2016 Trump campaign and its members.

“If someone told you that men aren’t men, women aren’t women, storms aren’t weather, babies aren’t babies, votes aren’t votes, spying isn’t spying, socialism isn’t socialism, fake news isn’t fake news & winning isn’t winning…” Loudon tweeted.

Never has that dramatic shift been more apparent than in the recent conversation regarding spying and whether politically-motivated surveillance was a factor in a concerted effort to discredit or even undermine President Donald Trump.

When Barr said during a Monday hearing that he believed Trump’s campaign had been spied on, Democrats and many in the media drew a collective breath and recoiled in shock. CNN was quick to point out that Barr had “no evidence” to support his claim, something they never did for any Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff’s many appearances.

CNN’s anchors and guests quickly joined the pile-on, downplaying Barr’s use of the term as simply a means for the new attorney general to make a show of being on the president’s side.

  • Anderson Cooper called the use of such terminology “loaded.”
  • Chris Cuomo appeared to acknowledge that surveillance had occurred but said that calling it “spying” was a “defamatory way to refer to surveillance.”
  • Don Lemon called the claim that Trump was spied on “outrageous.”
  • Jeffrey Toobin argued that the “paranoid lunacy of the right wing” had taken over the Justice Department.

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper also weighed in, telling CNN, “I thought it was both stunning and scary. I was amazed at that and rather disappointed that the attorney general would say such a thing. The term ‘spying’ has all kinds of negative connotations, and I have to believe he chose that term deliberately.”

Clapper had previously used the term himself, however, when claiming that the intent of any surveillance of Trump was to determine “what were the Russians attempting to do” and not to “spy on the campaign, per se.”

Former FBI Director James Comey chose his words carefully, as well, arguing that he never considered “electronic” surveillance and “spying” to be the same thing. But as former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer pointed out, the difference is often in the eye of the intended target of the “spying.” (RELATED: James Comey ‘Has Never Thought Of Electronic Surveillance As Spying’)

And as the examples began to flood Twitter, it became readily apparent that many of those same outlets had thrown the word “spying” about with abandon when the targets had been anyone other than those associated with the Trump campaign.

So when is a spy not a bad spy?

Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham made the case that what happened to Trump during the campaign and transition certainly was spying — but pointed out that not all spying was necessarily “unlawful.” That, he said, is why investigating the investigators in this particular case is necessary.

“They didn’t do this to Clinton — they did this to Trump. We’re going to find out why,” he said.

Barr has indicated his intent to pursue an investigation into the FISA Courts and the beginnings of the investigation into Trump, his campaign and alleged connections between them and Russian officials.

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