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As an admittedly partisan writer, my bias shows up in the subjects I cover, not in the facts I report. I want to know what the other guys know. It is always helpful, often essential.
Reporters in the political center and on the left seem to feel no such obligation. Writing for audiences that know no more than what Big Media has chosen to tell them, these “journalists” are inclined to write politically useful fiction and often get away with it.
Such is the case with Edward-Isaac Dovere in his new bestseller, Battle for the Soul: Inside the Democrats’ Campaigns to Defeat Trump. Although no great fan of Barack Obama, Dovere accepts uncritically Team Obama’s collective amnesia about the Russian collusion plot.
As the former Chief Washington Correspondent for Politico, Dovere has no excuse for his ignorance. Despite his time in Washington, he seems totally unaware of the serious reporting done on Russian collusion by people like National Review’s Andrew McCarthy, Gregg Jarrett, and Sara Carter of Fox News, John Solomon of Just the News, Mollie Hemingway and Margot Cleveland of the Federalist, Kimberley Strassel of the Wall Street Journal, Lee Smith of the Hudson Institute, syndicated columnist Diana West, and Peter Schweizer among others.
In the way of example, Dovere has great sport with President Donald Trump’s tweet on March 4, 2017: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found.” According to Dovere, Obama thought the claim “totally absurd.”
Writing from Obama’s perspective, Dovere continues, “Still, to have been accused of misusing power in a way he never would have, to have one president say this about another president, offended and enraged him.” It shouldn’t have, and Dovere should have been savvy enough to say so.
Although Trump’s phones were not literally “tapped” in the mechanical sense, at a subsequent press conference Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, explained why he saw fit to warn Trump about government surveillance:
So first, I recently confirmed that on numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition. Details about persons associated with the incoming administration, details with little apparent foreign intelligence value were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting. Third, I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked. And forth and finally, I want to be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia, or the investigation of Russian activities, or of the Trump team.
To write without context in 2021 that Obama was “offended and enraged” by Trump’s accusation four years earlier is a symptom of Big Media’s terminal myopia. That myopia is aggravated in Dovere’s case by his choice of sources, one of whom was Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice. It was she who related the national security team’s reaction to the Trump tweet. “That was when I think everybody went, ‘What the . . . ?’” she told Dovere.
Partisan writers like myself remember Rice as the Obama operative who famously told the same Benghazi lie on five different shows one Sunday morning. “Mainstream” writers like Dovere take her at her word.
Like her boss, Susan Rice had a gift for being surprised by information she already knew. On March 22, 2017, soon after Nunes’s initial revelations, “PBS NewsHour’s” Judy Woodruff asked Rice about his disclosure that Trump “and the people around him may have been caught up in surveillance of foreign individuals and that their identities may have been disclosed. Do you know anything about this?”
Said Rice, “I know nothing about this. I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today,”
Two weeks later, however, Bloomberg’s Eli Lake busted Rice’s bubble, writing, “Rice requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.” She would not have done something this provocative without Obama’s approval.
A day later, a visibly nervous Susan Rice was interviewed on MSNBC by Andrea Mitchell. No longer claiming ignorance, Rice began with a lengthy, disingenuous explanation of the unmasking process. “I leaked nothing to nobody,” Rice volunteered much too eagerly.
In an interview with Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman of the New York Times published two days after the Bloomberg story broke, Trump expressed his concern about Rice’s unmasking activities. “I think the Susan Rice thing is a massive story,” said Trump. “I think it’s a massive, massive story. All over the world, I mean other than the New York Times.”
Haberman claimed the Times had written about Rice, but Trump knew the Times had missed the big picture. “The Russia story is a total hoax,” he told a disbelieving Haberman. “There has been absolutely nothing coming out of that. But what, you know, what various things led into it was the story that we’re talking about, the Susan Rice [story].”
Later in the interview, Haberman and Thrush prodded Trump into saying more about Rice, ideally something the Times could use to confirm his recklessness and his general unfitness for office. Here is the best they could do.
THRUSH: Do you think she might have committed a crime?
TRUMP: Do I think?
TRUMP: Yes, I think.
Here is how Dovere recounts that interview: Trump “mused” that Rice “should be prosecuted for seeking to discover the identities of the Americans whom intelligence had been tracking for contact with the Russians.”
Dovere then quotes an unnamed aide for Team Obama’s reaction to Trump’s muted accusation, “We have now entered the realm of the insane. Something that is totally dishonest, complete fiction — but you still have to deal with it.”
Rice knows something about fiction. During her MSNBC interview, she spoke of the “intelligence community” as though it were some sort of objective arbiter of her many requests to know the name of a given “U.S. Person.” Thanks to another Rice misjudgment, we know it wasn’t.
Obama’s trusted scribe and factotum, Rice made a note “to self” about an unusual meeting that took place in the White House on January 5, 2017. In conference with Obama was his national security team including all the usual suspects: the FBI’s James Comey, the CIA’s John Brennan, Vice-President Joe Biden, DNI James Clapper, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, and Rice.
Following the meeting, Obama asked Yates and Comey to stick around along with Rice. Obama had a reason for singling out Comey and Yates. Unlike the others, they were staying on in their jobs. Two weeks later, on the very day at the very moment Trump was being inaugurated, Rice sent a peculiar email to herself. It read:
President Obama began the conversation by stressing his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue is handled by the Intelligence and law enforcement communities “by the book.” The President stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book.
In 2021, it is frightening that the media are still willing to believe that Obama and his team played “by the book.” In his book The Plot Against the President Lee Smith offers a concise summary of how that team really played.
The first component of the plot against the president, “a political espionage campaign,” involved senior Obama officials from the law enforcement and intelligence communities. Using electronic surveillance and confidential human sources, they attempted to spy on and entrap Trump’s associates. They also leaked classified information to the press “to portray Trump and his circle as compromised by hidden ties to the Russian government.”
The second component, Smith writes, “was the media campaign.” The media published leaks of classified intelligence as well as political dirt served up by the Clinton campaign and the DNC — the Steele dossier most notably — “to build an echo chamber smearing Trump as a Russian agent.” Although designed to prevent Trump from becoming president, the operation continued, after he won, its goal now “was to bring down the president.”
“The Russia story is a total hoax,” President Trump told the Times four years ago. Although a few in the major media have caught on, Edward-Isaac Dovere is embarrassingly not among them.