Imagine how much we would benefit as a nation from knowing that news organizations were telling us about real events and conveying objective facts without concern about who or what they might hurt or benefit.
That doesn’t quite fit the music of John Lennon’s fatuous song, but it’s a much more useful hypothetical to consider than “Imagine there’s no countries.”
Yesterday, a thoroughly Trump-Deranged relative who is otherwise reasonable, informed and perceptive, was telling me that one reason he was convinced President Trump had mishandled the current virus threat is that “he doesn’t read his briefings.” This is a press-driven trope, as I tried to explain, and like so much fake news, designed to undermine trust by people who are ignorant. My relative isn’t ignorant. He just wants to believe what he already had decided before the election; it’s confirmation bias.
I pointed out that 1) the briefings smear came from unidentified leaks in the Administration, from those who by definition were attempting to damage the President. 2) The sources have been anonymous, and of the same level of trustworthiness that led to so many false reports and headlines during the Russian collusion investigations. 3) A lot of people, including very successful executives, process information better aurally than visually. I worked for one. Reading was hard for him; he was dyslexic. I would send him a long, detailed memo on an issue, and he would call me into his office, hand the memo back, and say, “Tell me what it says—the important stuff.” He was, by furlongs, the best manager I ever worked under. My relative, a lawyer and a manager himself, gets all of his information from reading (and based on our arguments, isn’t all that hot at processing it aurally.)
He also believes what he’s told by his fellow Deranged, and they told him yesterday that the Washington Post had reported , in a story titled, “President’s intelligence briefing book repeatedly cited virus threat,” that…
U.S. intelligence agencies issued warnings about the novel coronavirus in more than a dozen classified briefings prepared for President Trump in January and February, months during which he continued to play down the threat, according to current and former U.S. officials.The repeated warnings were conveyed in issues of the President’s Daily Brief, a sensitive report that is produced before dawn each day and designed to call the president’s attention to the most significant global developments and security threats.For weeks, the PDB — as the report is known — traced the virus’s spread around the globe, made clear that China was suppressing information about the contagion’s transmissibility and lethal toll, and raised the prospect of dire political and economic consequences.
No sources were given, just “sources”—you know, like those sources during the Mueller investigation. A month ago, the same Post reporters submitted virtually the same basic story, headlined “U.S. intelligence reports from January and February warned about a likely pandemic.” It was also essentially the same story the New York Times had run earlier, “He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus,” and that ABC ran around the same time, “Intelligence report warned of coronavirus crisis as early as November: Sources.”
You know: “sources.” Those “sources” were immediately debunked by none other than the Director of DIA’s National Center for Medical Intelligence , who sent this out:
The Post reporter in both of its versions was Ellen Nakashima, whose breathless scoops about the Mueller investigation frequently proved to be wishful thinking.Nakashima, enabled by The Post, claimed that the latest version of the briefing book claim was headline-worthy because…
The frequency with which the coronavirus was mentioned in the PDB has not been previously reported, and U.S. officials said it reflected a level of attention comparable to periods when analysts have been tracking active terrorism threats, overseas conflicts or other rapidly developing security issues.
What “U.S. officials”? She doesn’t say. Nor are there any examples of the warnings, or hint of how many warning. Like the other stories, this one just asserts that Trump had been warned and refused to act. You don’t see the denial by the agency responsible for such briefings until paragraph 9:
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is responsible for the PDB. In response to questions about the repeated mentions of coronavirus, a DNI official said, “The detail of this is not true.” The official declined to explain or elaborate.
I’m sure my relative didn’t read that far, but he wouldn’t have believed it anyway. He wants to believe the “sources,” whoever they are.
In response to the latest story, Richard Grenell, the acting Director of National Intelligence, tweeted to the reporter,
Red State, a conservative commentary site with a lot of NeverTrumpers but no fan of the left-biased media, notes, “The only reason why the Post keeps recycling this dog is this:”
The warnings conveyed in the PDB probably will be a focus of any future investigation of the Trump administration handling of the pandemic. Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, in early April called for the formation of an independent commission analogous to the one created to investigate the Sept, 11, 2001, attacks.
Red State adds, after laying out the time-line showing that the administration was in fact acting during the period the Post accuses it of ignoring the alleged briefings,
So either the warnings claimed to have been made in the PDB didn’t exist, or if they existed they were totally superfluous as actions were being taken over several agencies to react to the emergence of Wuhan virus …
The Post and Nakashima are doing is something that would have made Goebbels ecstatic. They are peddling a lie that they know to be a lie, referencing their own previous lies to give credence to the current lie, in the hopes that their lie, like the lie about Bush and the bin Laden warning, become accepted history.
I am truly sick of this stuff.