WaPo media critic says Durham indictment is ‘bad news’ for those who made noise about Steele case
Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple has targeted the media that peddled the infamous Steele case following recent revelations from the Durham Inquiry.
Last week, Special Advocate John Durham, who was appointed by the Trump administration to investigate the origins of the Russia inquiry, indicted Steele’s sub-source Igor Danchenko for making false statements to the FBI. The indictment shed light on Danchenko’s ties to Democrats, casting doubt on the validity of past media coverage of the case.
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“Danchenko’s indictment doubles as criticism from multiple media that covered Steele’s reports in 2016 and after its publication by BuzzFeed in January 2017,” Wemple wrote Monday. CNN, MSNBC, Mother Jones, the McClatchy newspaper chain and various experts gave credibility to the case without corroboration – and found other topics to cover when a forceful debunking came in December 2019 via a report from the Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz. “
Wemple, who has long been critical the hype of the Steele case, highlighted the involvement of Democratic agent and Clinton ally Charles Dolan Jr., one of Danchenko’s main sources according to the indictment whose credibility was also undermined by Durham . Yet Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the controversial memo, recently told ABC News: “I support the work we did, the sources we had and the professionalism we applied to it.”
Several news outlets, including the Post, ABC News and the Wall Street Journal, told Wemple they were “reviewing” their past and potentially questionable reporting on the involvement in the case of Sergei Millian, the former chairman of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce.
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“News organizations may face a lag when placing their reporting next to the indictment. When the indictment relies on emails, interviews and other media, powerful investigation, the Journal’s first scoop cited a single anonymous source. The source of the Post’s report on Millian’s alleged conversation is unclear, as ABC News attributes its main claim to “someone familiar with the intelligence” raw materials supplied to the FBI, “Wemple wrote.” These news outlets now face a daunting journalistic challenge – that of returning to their source (s) in an effort to substantiate the original claims that Millian was a unintentional source for the folder. If this effort does not produce enough evidence to overcome the allegations in the indictment, there is only one option: remove the stories. Allowing one version of events to awkwardly sit next to another – and letting the reader decide – won’t cut it. “
Wemple also called out MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who he noted had previously announced Steele’s “secret sources in Russia,” for downplaying the findings of Danchenko’s indictment and suggesting that the goal of the Durham investigation was to “discredit the entire investigation into Russia by arresting various sources for this investigation, to discredit the Steele case because so many people were made to believe that was the reason for the investigation . “
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âJust as Durham cannot use the file to deviate from the larger Trump-Russia picture, however, people like Maddow and others cannot use the larger Trump-Russia picture to deviate from their coverage of the dossier for years. late, “Wemple wrote.