On Friday, ThinkProgress published an article authored by Rebekah Entralgo claiming that there is “growing public evidence of collusion with Russia.” The article cites what it claims to be “connections” that link President Trump with Russian hackers.
There’s one problem: It’s fake news, and we have evidence.
For starters, Entralgo accuses Michael Sainato (one of the co-authors of this article) of being part of what she called “The Jared Kushner Connection.” Entralgo claims:
In September of 2016, a freelance writer named Michael Sainato wrote an article for the New York Observer (whose publisher was Jared Kushner from 2006 until 2017) which detailed that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) had coordinated with Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2015, citing an internal DCCC memo leaked to Sainato by Guccifer 2.0, who published an article on the memo for the Observer, one of the outlets he contributes to as a freelancer.
Russian hackers now leaking directly to Jared Kushner's paper. Trump campaign not even being subtle anymorehttps://t.co/cJMdr63xKd
— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) September 6, 2016
When reached by Mother Jones, Guccifer 2.0 stated he provided Sainato with exclusive documents but denied knowing Sainato was working on an article for the paper owned by Jared Kushner.
ThinkProgress insinuates that Sainato was the link that connects Trump with Russia, a baseless claim started by the Clinton Campaign Press Secretary Brian Fallon, who now works for the pro-Clinton Super PAC, Priorities USA. Essentially, the publication claims that Russian operatives worked directly with Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. In such a contrived scenario, Kushner, or one of his connections, would ’have instructed or tipped Sainato to contact Guccifer 2.0 and publish the leaked documents in the Observer to harm the former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
The author didn’t contact Sainato for a request for comment, nor cite Mother Jones’s comment from Sainato.
But in reality, Sainato contacted Guccifer 2.0 through Twitter and the hacker agreed to send the leaked documents to him. This wasn’t a unique relationship by any stretch. Salam Morcos (co-authoring this article) also contacted Guccifer 2.0 via Twitter and twice published leaked DCCC documents in the Progressive Army. The Hill, Daily Caller, the Intercept, and several other outlets repeated this scenario. The authenticity of the documents was never seriously called into question, and the content provided information that was in the public interest. Sainato and other reporters did not release the documents in full but rather reported on the information within those documents that demanded to be reported on. Notice that information, in which Democratic Party organization memos specifically referred to Hillary Clinton as the nominee before the primaries began, are never included in these Russia narratives. Omitting this part of the story implies this information was either false or were not worth reporting on, except neither of those scenarios rings true.
If we stick to ThinkProgress’s editorial integrity, or lack thereof, would Morcos be another “bombshell” connection that proves the Trump-Russia connection? After all, Morcos not only lived in Russia but has close family ties who live in Russia’s capital. There’s a xenophobic driven Neo-McCarthyism at play in these narratives that attempt to imply anything remotely connected to Russia is nefarious.
Shifting the Narrative
If you take a step back, and look at the ThinkProgress article, the author attempts to shift the narrative by putting more weight on “The Flynn connection” than actually exists. For example, this is how she sums up the Wall Street Journal article:
In sum, there is evidence that individuals connected to the Trump campaign were seeking stolen emails from Russian hackers and evidence that Russian hackers were trying to provide them to a top Trump adviser.
You’ll notice throughout her reporting that she refers to hackers as being from Russia, but not the “Russian government.” By not stating the facts, the author attempts to trick the reader into reading more into her article than actually exists, namely, the Russian government hacked the DNC. Just because a person is purported to be from a certain country does not, by any means, make that person an official of the government. They don’t have the evidence to fill in the gaps or voids in the narrative, so they are drawing their own conclusions to compensate.
Mr. Smith, who was the center of the WSJ report, himself makes the distinction, stating “he believed Russians were likely among those who tried to steal Mrs. Clinton’s emails, [but] he dismissed intelligence agencies’ conclusion that the Russian government meddled in the election to discredit Mrs. Clinton and to help Mr. Trump.”