Friday, October 27, 2017

The party press: Circular firing squad

The "buh-buh-buh-HILLARY!" storm hasn't quite blown over yet -- the top story at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network is still "Pressure mounts on Mueller to resign over FBI ties to dossier scandal"* -- but the evening's No. 2 story introduces an entertaining twist:

The opposition research project that ultimately produced the controversial Trump-Russia dossier was initially backed by the conservative Washington Free Beacon website, it was revealed** late Friday.

Free Beacon editor Matthew Continetti said in a statement that the publication had retained Fusion GPS to "provide research on multiple candidates in the [2016] Republican presidential primary," as well as Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

Continetti's statement denied that the Free Beacon "had contact with, knowledge of, or provided payment for any work performed by Christopher Steele," the former British spy who produced the now-infamous dossier. 


So who did all the revelating, anyway?

... Free Beacon's connection with Fusion GPS was first reported by the Washington Examiner. According to the Examiner's report, lawyers for the Free Beacon told the House Intelligence Committee that the website funded the opposition research project between the fall of 2015 and the spring of 2016.

At some point after that, Fusion GPS was retained by Mark Elias, an attorney representing the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign. Fusion GPS then hired Steele to compile the dossier.


Hard to tell about "first reported" -- the Examiner's report says 6:47 p.m., and I don't see a time stamp on the Times's version, which is sourced to "people briefed on the conversation." (One of the reporters involved tweeted a link to it an hour ago, by Twitter's reckoning, which would be around 7:20, and the Free Beacon's non-apology was posted at 7:02.) But either way, we have Fox fronting a report by one right-wing outlet calling out an even more reprehensible right-wing outfit, about which process you have to admit there's a certain charm. Back to Fox:

... "We stand by our reporting, and we do not apologize for our methods," Continetti added. "We consider it our duty to report verifiable information, not falsehoods or slander, and we believe that commitment has been well demonstrated by the quality of the journalism that we produce."

Can't wait to see what comes around on the guitar next.

Anyway, if you don't keep up with outfits like the Free Beacon, here's its editor a few months ago, holding forth on The Media at the National Review:
Pro tip? If you can't "separate the signal from the noise" in survey research, you shouldn't be writing about it in the first place.

* The tamer inside hed, "Mueller facing new Republican pressure to resign in Russia probe," demonstrates yet again that verb voice isn't the only thing affecting the demonstration of agency in headlines.
** The dummy-subject passive strikes me as especially British; UK visitors, is this the natural way of handling the attribution here?

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Ed Latham said...

Yes, "it was revealed ..." is a familiar technique in the UK (often with the time element omitted to make it "... it has been revealed"). It's useful where, as here, explaining the circumstances of the revelation would make the lede too long or unwieldy.

5:10 AM, October 28, 2017  
Anonymous Picky said...

Yep.

9:47 AM, October 28, 2017  

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