Two Fox News stalwarts, chief Fox News anchor Shep Smith and “Judge” Anthony Napolitano (he’s not a judge, not any more) took issue on the air with criticism of “Spygate.” Let’s take the two individually…
“President Trump has also claimed that Feds spied on his campaign with an informant,” Smith concluded. “The President calls it ‘spygate.’ Fox News can confirm it is not. Fox News knows of no evidence to support the president’s claim; Lawmakers from both parties say using an informant to investigate suspected ties to Russia is not spying, it’s part of the normal investigative process.”
- Smith is not the least bit sympathetic to Trump, though Fox-bashers like to ignore this when they accuse Fox of being blind shills for the President. He tries to be objective, but slants left like most of his colleagues at other networks. So this is not, as it is being represented to be, a stunning rejection by a media ally of President Trump.
- This popular semantical defense of the FBI using a mole in the Trump campaign remains desperate and silly. The FBI recruited an individual to seek out contacts within the Trump campaign and pass along information learned thereby to the agency. An undercover informant is a spy—it’s just that spy is a pejorative term.
- “Lawmakers from both parties say using an informant to investigate suspected ties to Russia is not spying, it’s part of the normal investigative process” is a horrible, unethical sentence. First, if some lawmakers from both parties say Trump is a rutabaga, it doesn’t make him a rutabaga—this is naked appeal to authority. Bad Shep.
Second, who is so certain “ties to Russia” is all the “informant” was investigating? Why are they so certain? Because the FBI says so?
Third, having an agent of an investigative agency operating within an organization that doesn’t know of that agency is, by definition, “spying.” Here is the definition of spy: “a person who secretly collects and reports information on the activities, movements, and plans of an enemy or competitor.” Russia is an enemy, the Trump campaign was a competitor. It was spying.
Fourth, a Democratic administration spying on a Republican Presidential campaign, for any purpose, is not “normal.” It is extraordinary, and refusing to acknowledge that makes Smith’s opinion useless and dishonest.
“The allegations by Mayor Giuliani over the weekend which would lead to us believe that the Trump people think that the FBI had an undercover agent who inveigled his way into the campaign and was there as a spy on the campaign seem to be baseless. There is no evidence for that whatsoever. But the other allegation about this professor whose name we are not supposed to mention, talking to people on the periphery of the campaign, that is standard operating procedure in intelligence gathering and in criminal investigations.”
- How can the statement that the FBI had an undercover agent spying on the campaign be “baseless”?
Was Stefan Halper working for the FBI? Yes. Was he interacting with members of the Trump campaign? Yes. Did the campaign know he was working for the FBI? No! Then he was spying in the campaign. Was he spying on the campaign? We don’t know that. But he was spying.
- Saying that there is “no evidence whatsoever” is a flat out falsehood. The fact that there was an FBI operative misrepresenting himself to members of the campaign is itself evidence.
- “Talking to people on the periphery of the campaign”...nice sophistry there, “Judge.” People “on the periphery” are still part of the campaign. Spying on them is still spying on the campaign.
- “That is standard operating procedure in intelligence gathering and in criminal investigations.” Except that an administration “gathering intelligence” using the FBI to spy on the opposition party’s Presidential campaign is not, as many smarter legal analysts than “the judge” have correctly pointed out, “standard operating procedure.” In fact, it is presumed to be improper, and a dangerous breach of democratic norms.
And here is my favorite botch from “the judge” yesterday. Bill Hemmer asked him why he didn’t regard the “spying” tactic as unfair, and Napolitano burst out with this:
“It’s not the prosecutor’s job to be fair! The judge decides what’s fair!”
Wrong, clearly wrong, horribly, unethically wrong, and therefore misleading.
Here is the ABA’s most recent standards for prosecutors. I count 24 mentions of the duty of fairness, and it should be no surprise: if the prosecution isn’t fair, the trial is less likely to be fair, and the right to a fair trial is a core right of citizenship. The document also emphasizes a prosecutor’s duty to “protect the innocent,” which one cannot do by using unfair tactics.
The mainstream media are now exulting over the inept and misbegotten opinions of these two sudden authorities whom they have routinely derided in the past. That’s all it takes today to redeem yourself in the eyes of “the resistance”: a lazy, incompetent opinion that sides with the President’s opponents.