Gee, Trump-Haters, Is Fox News Trustworthy And Reliable NOW?

 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…

Shep said, in part,

“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.”

Ugh.

  • 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.

Now here come de judge:

“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.”

Blecchh.

  • 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.

 

46 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

46 responses to “Gee, Trump-Haters, Is Fox News Trustworthy And Reliable NOW?

  1. adimagejim

    Someone please produce evidence of similar informants being used by opposing parties during election campaigns. If there is, I am willing to entertain my take on this series of events is wrong.

    Let’s face it, former President Obama as a candidate, with his known ties to Wright/Farrakhan, Bill Ayers, Frank Marshall Davis, should have had a whole roster of informants on his campaign. Maybe he did and we don’t know it.

    Anyone with specific knowledge of this sort of thing would be useful to inform us. So far, the media is AWOL on this important contextual question.

    • Other Bill

      Sheesh, this is weird. Trey Gowdy tells us everything is just peachy keen.

      https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/05/29/rep_trey_gowdy_on_spygate_fbi_did_exactly_what_we_hope_they_would_do.html

      I wonder whether he’s looking to get a job in the DOJ or FBI next year. Strange.

      • Gowdy is another bete noire of Democrats who is suddenly popular. He’s a prosecutor. That’s pretty much all you need to know.

        • Other Bill

          Ouch. Maybe so. Maybe he has short timer’s attitude as well. I thought he’d be prosecuting and cross examining the malefactors at the FBI and DOJ. Kind of depressing.

      • Aleksei

        Hey, James Clapper, everybody’s favorite former DNI and eternal partisan hack already told us, that the FBI didn’t spy on Trump, but Trump should be happy that they “didn’t” spy on him, and anyways, it was good for him and they were doing everyone a favor. Politifact confirms!

        • Behar asked: “I ask you, was the FBI spying on Trump’s campaign?”

          Clapper said: “No, they were not. They were spying on — a term I don’t particularly like — but on what the Russians were doing. Trying to understand were the Russians infiltrating, trying to gain access, trying to gain leverage and influence which is what they do.”

          That’s not logic Mr. Clapper, it’s bull shit spin meant to white-wash facts.

          A is the target of a investigation making it seem “reasonable” to spy on A. So when A is having a conversation B they are spying on the conversation because A is part of it, the fact remains that they are spying on the conversation between A and B. Now B claims that they were spying on “him”, it completely blows my mind that people can say with a straight face that B wasn’t being spied on when B was part of the conversation that was being spied on because A was part of the conversation.

          Bias slowly eats away the bearer’s logic and morals, hate completely eliminates them!

          • Andrew Wakeling

            So how should the FBI have tried to find out if the Russians were “infiltrating, trying to gain access” etc? Or do you think they should just have stood well clear? Do you think the FBI had no reason to be concerned? Or that after having become concerned they should have acted differently?

            • Andrew Wakeling wrote, “So how should the FBI have tried to find out if the Russians were “infiltrating, trying to gain access” etc? Or do you think they should just have stood well clear? Do you think the FBI had no reason to be concerned? Or that after having become concerned they should have acted differently?”

              Too many loaded questions in that comment and answering any of them doesn’t change any of the facts.

              What’s done is done; here’s what the investigators need to do right now.

              They need to openly admit absolutely everything about how and why the surveillance took place and all the people involved so measures can be put in place to fix anything that was clearly in error, address anything that was done inappropriately or illegally, and set in motion ways of dealing with future situations that may arise. As the left is always saying about anything related to investigating anything related to Trump, if they did everything appropriately then there’s nothing to hide, it’s out, why hide any of it at this point in time?

            • adimagejim

              How about directly interviewing the person, perhaps persons, who indicated contacts had happened and offering them reduced penalties for names, dates, communications (if any)? Then go out and pursue those offered up as foreign agents (if any), you know, like real investigative agencies do. (Unless you’re Hillary or Debbie, of course, then all procedures cease or are done off the record after the exoneration has already been written.) How about interviewing the people who paid for the unverified Russian dossier? (Oops can’t do that per above.)

              Please.

            • Aleksei

              I think an FBI investigation is not evil in of itself. For this particular case, what is troubling is why one was started. Was it the Steele dossier, was it George Papadopoulos gossiping with Alexander Downer, an Australian diplomat in London, is it the prior connection of Carter Page to Russia? We still don’t have a clear origin story as far as I know. And if Stefan Halper was brought on to attempt to infiltrate the campaign before any of the aforementioned, what prompted the federales to do that? Before even going that far back, having FISA court orders signed of based on the dossier, and then justifying it by newspaper article written by a friendly journalist, Micheal Isikoff, Yahoo News, is just circular logic. Perhaps saying it’s all biased on piece of funny business is stretching it, but if you take the whole of the observed behavior, it’s plausible to say something is amiss, let’s get to the bottom of this.
              Also, if I were to follow you long enough, I’m sure I can throw the book at you for violating some obscure federal law, when you go to visit your friend in the next state and take some daffodil from your garden. You would be violating the Federal Garden Plant Act of 1969 (I made that up) and we’ll make you cooperate so you can give up your gardener, your dept store clerk, and etc. We are supposed to investigate people based on the probable cause of a commission of crime, and not randomly choosing a name in the phone book and investigating that guy, until we get him. If you end up going after someone without and solid basis, you are going to be in trouble, your boss is going to be in trouble, and maybe even his boss for allowing the dept run free of the rules in place to protect citizens from arbitrary scrutiny by the fed govt.

              • Isaac

                When the official origin story switched from being about Page to being about George, that was a blatant lie. We still don’t have an origin story for the investigation that even checks out. Occam’s Razor suggests that the actual origin story involves some shady characters hammering out a safe way to impeach and/or disgrace Trump, under noble pretense and without provably breaking any laws. I doubt anyone’s going to jail for it, for the same reason Hillary will face no penalty for essentially selling the power of her office to foreign companies. They’ve got enough lawyers on their side to know what’s actionable and what’s not.

                • What we are seeing is a result of arrogant hubris. I am betting they quite bothering to check legalities and made actionable mistakes.

                  Because human nature is predictable, and does not change.

    • >>Someone please produce evidence of similar informants being used by opposing parties during election campaigns.

      Oooh, that’s an easy one. Nixon and the Watergate break-in. Lots of evidence there of people spying on the opposing party.

      Does that make it all ok now?

      • adimagejim

        Your answer seems to disingenuously avoid the actual question.

        The Obama administration justice machinery, via Hillary funded unverified information, misled the FISA court and used the FBI and CIA as weapons against Trump as their insurance policy against his victory and presidency. The news media has covered for Obama, Hillary. the DNC and the left’s behavior since day one.

        Nixon’s campaign, though clearly illegally acting, didn’t do that. They got busted for campaign operatives attempting to illegally wiretap. He resigned as a result of evidence collection after the break in had occurred. Good.

        If there’s evidence Nixon’s FBI and CIA spied on McGovern, lied to the courts and the news media covered it up. That would be a parallel.

  2. Phil Alperson

    Silly question. They should be praised when Fox (or anyone) gets it right, and condemned when they get it wrong or when their bias is overbearing. Thanks to Shepard Smith for hanging tough on that network.

    • Well, sure. But they are NOT praised when they get it right—only when they agree with the Left, even when, as in this case, they are embarrassingly, obviously, wrong.

      • Still Spartan

        Well, I am only praised here when I agree with the conservative position. I think that’s pretty normal.

        • Still Spartan wrote, “Well, I am only praised here when I agree with the conservative position.”

          I honestly don’t think that is a fair assessment of fellow commenters on either side of the fence.

    • adimagejim

      Phil:
      To be clear, having an informant or informants within the next Democrat candidate for President campaign because Trump or others accuse that candidate of some association worthy of investigation and put the power of the FBI and intelligence agencies upon that campaign, you’re good with it and won’t believe it’s partisan spying, right?

      • Because this is where we are headed, if there are no consequences (prison terms) for those who instigated this.

        Why not?

        • adimagejim

          Pretty sure where we’re headed in the current climate is a lot worse than that.

          • In the interest of unscientific polling, what do you see ahead, adimagejim?

            If riots do not break out, I think we see this as the new norm by those in power.

            • adimagejim

              Slick:
              This is not necessarily my desire, but more logical as I see things…
              The union will break up into parts a la the EU breaking back into its component parts due incongruous political and economic issues. Most likely:

              • California alone or Northern California with Oregon and Washington and Southern California alone
              • Texas alone
              • Many southern, midwestern and western states in another group (not including Minnesota and Illinois) with newly formed Western Pennsylvania
              • Illinois and Minnesota may go it alone
              • New York alone or with Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Vermont and newly formed Eastern Pennsylvania
              • Maine and New Hampshire paired
              • New Mexico is a wild card and could go several ways, including an unlikely alliance with Mexico
              • Arizona will be geographically precariously positioned, (unclear)
              • Colorado may go it alone

              If this happens, I hope it is peaceful and orderly. It is unlikely to be.
              Imagine the international meddling in this mess. Frightening, but potentially necessary to keep peace long term.

              Highly speculative, I know.

              • Follow up question: how will some of those proposed mini nation feed themselves?

                California, Texas, and heartland states might be able to do so, but the politics alone (blue states hate farmers) mean no one there can supply the food needed by the mega cities. California cannot provide enough water for themselves, and likewise have scorched the earth in the name of their eco warriors for the ability to build reservoirs.

                How will they produce power? Texas alone supplies all her own power: all other states rely on cooperation that falls across the lines you drew.

                Same question about oil: who has the refineries and production? Blue states have destroyed this internally as well.

                My view is that the blue states cannot survive such a balkanization without recanting their ways.

                • adimagejim

                  Remember how blind they are to so much reality.

                  Trade is the short version in answering almost all your questions.

                  Some with little to sell of value may become very third world like.

                  Maybe then reconciliation can happen.

                  • Trade requires both parties to agree to terms. In the aftermath of such a break up, I doubt the haves will be in a mood to deal with those who hate their guts enough to break up the USA.

  3. Rusty Rebar

    talking to people on the periphery of the campaign

    So now they were on the “periphery” of the campaign, but when Muller was looking at them, or the NYT was doing articles about them, they were not described as such. Funny how that works. Maddow and Co. have been going nuts over this kind of thing for months / years now, but suddenly they were on the “periphery”.

    • Other Bill

      But come on, Rusty, where there’s smoke there’s fire! They’re closing in on Trump. Manafort and all the others are going to turn state’s evidence and sing like canaries, I tell ya! James Cagney, I mean Comey, is about to shove a grapefruit right in Trump’s face! And in the movie, Mueller will be played by Robert Stack. “G-Men to the Rescue!” It’ll be boffo at the box office. Want to invest? I’ve got the rights all tied up!

      • Isaac

        Oh man, I hadn’t even thought about the plethora of awful movies that are going to made about this. If Weinstein were still at large there would probably have been a couple already.

  4. I think it being called Spygate is far more apt than all the other scandals since Watergate. This is an even skankier mirror of the original Watergate because the Dems were shouting their outrage for so many years over election cooking by the party in power. Every one of these people in media who claim their reactio isn’t partisan, should publicly apologize to Nixon and admit that he did *Nothing* wrong. That would at least show some integrity.

    I don’t think they could. But if it was wrong for Nixon, it was wrong for Obama. They are all doing no better at morals or fairness than Mr. Nixon, and that is an awfully low bar.

  5. DaveL

    While Stefan Halper was definitely spying on the Trump campaign, I don’t know that he can be considered a “mole”. A mole is an insider, and while Halper did interact with members of the Trump Campaign, I don’t think he himself was ever a member.

    • He had to be “inside” to have access. Is being inside not being an insider? He had to be considered inside to be trusted by those inside.

      • DaveL

        That seems rather thin gruel. Is every reporter who’s granted an interview an “insider?” If so, then a great many were insiders in both the Clinton and Trump campaigns. Congress asked questions of Carter Page, does that make them all insiders in the Trump campaign? No, access alone, at least on a scale like Halper had, doesn’t support the idea he was “inside” the Trump campaign. That would require he had something like an employment relationship, or that he took orders from superiors in the campaign, or some kind of authority to make decisions, speak on the campaign’s behalf, spend campaign monies, etc.

        • Wait a minute: reporters have to represent their status up front. That’s no analogy at all. Start over. An informant, or spy, must have insider status, or he or she is useless. It must be someone with access, who is trusted, and whose actual loyalties and motives are misrepresented. I’m not going to nit-pick with you about “insider/outsider” terminology: outsiders can’t be spies/informants, because they won’t be trusted. An informant must be considered “one of us” or he can’t get any information that anyone else couldn’t get.

          • Shades of Chris!

            Nitpick a minor point and divert the conversation there. Redefine the meaning of words when that helps your narrative, but resist such if it is being used against you.

            Alinsky 101

          • DaveL

            That a reporter represents his status up front is a separate issue, which bears on whether or not Halper was a spy, not on whether he was an insider. That the reporter gets access, even showing his credentials up-front, shows that access is an insufficient criterion for being considered an “insider”.

            Certainly, an insider would be more useful as a spy, but I have yet to see that Halper’s spying actually did produce any useful intelligence. If he had been given damning information to relay to the FBI, that would be something, but I haven’t seen that. It seems quite possible that he was useless as an informant.

            • “but I have yet to see that Halper’s spying actually did produce any useful intelligence.”

              100% irrelevant. Moral luck, either way. The fact is that a spy was planted in the Trump campaign to essentially surveil its activities. Motive? It doesn’t matter. Results? It also doesn’t matter. The act itself is the offense.

              • DaveL

                It isn’t irrelevant to your argument that a non-insider informant would be useless. If he was, indeed, a useless informant, then you can hardly claim that’s inconsistent with him not being an insider. The assertion that he must be an insider because a non-insider wouldn’t get useful information carries an implicit modus tollens argument: An outsider wouldn’t get useful information, he did get useful information (this is the unspoken premise), therefore he wasn’t an outsider.

                • You are blathering. No outsider would be recruited to gather information from a political campaign Again, if he’s trusted, then he’s an insider by definition. If he isn’t an insider, then he’s not an asset. But he was an asset, ergo he was treated as an insider, or the FBI assumed he would be.

                  Why are you tap-dancing like this?

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