DR’s entire foreign news division should be disbanded and rebuilt from scratch.
Trump’s investigation of FBI and Russia is still running — and there’s a there there.
Jakob Busk Olsen, DR.dk, Nov 5
The article is of course about the arrest of Igor Danchenko. It doesn’t get much play on DR’s website: it’s a smallish feature nestled well below the top of the page—given much less emphasis, for example, than a young high school dropout’s declaration that the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow was “a fiasco.”
The featured photo, by the way, is this one (image credit: screencap from DR, who credit “MARCOS BRINDICCI © Ritzau Scanpix”):
The caption accompanying the photo reads: “A private intelligence report from 2016 claimed that Russia had a squeeze on Donald Trump.” Note the absence of a modifier such as “discredited” or “debunked.”
Before I get to the real crime against journalism committed by DR in this case, however, I’d like to throw up some Anglophonic headlines about the same story—many of which are from establishment leftist organs:
BBC: Trump-Russia Steele dossier analyst charged with lying to FBI
CNN: Russian analyst who was source for Steele dossier arrested and charged with lyring to FBI
New York Times: Authorities Arrest Analyst Who Contributed to Steele Dossier.
AP News: Analyst who aided Trump-Russia dossier charged with lying
Washington Post: Igor Danchenko arrested, charged with lying to FBI about information in Steele dossier
The Guardian: First Thing: Russian source for Steele’s Trump dossier arrested
Wall Street Journal: Durham Unravels the Russia Case
New York Post: Arrest Illustrates how the Steele dossier was a political dirty trick orchestrated by Hillary Clinton
Take all those headlines into consideration—from the left and the right, from the US and the UK, and meditate upon DR’s headline: they call it “Trump’s investigation” and they want readers to know only that it’s still running and has some substance. And they’ve partly framed the story with that sinister image of Putin and Trump and its misleading caption.
Even leftist stalwarts like the NYT, WaPo, CNN, and Guardian understood that the salient fact of the case was Danchenko’s identity as the man who set the Steele dossier in motion—thereby launching the “Russia collusion” narrative that they ran with for years.
The WSJ and NY Post headlines are more candid because they have less to be ashamed of with respect to the whole “Russian collusion” fairy tale. They’re unafraid to state the obvious significance of Danchenko’s lies: the whole thing was a sleazy political hit job.
We can get quickly to the significance from the New York Post coverage:
Danchenko has been charged with five counts of lying to the FBI in interviews during 2017, as the bureau struggled in futility to verify outlandish allegations that Donald Trump and his campaign were clandestine agents of the Kremlin. Those allegations were compiled in the so-called Steele dossier, which the FBI relied on in obtaining surveillance warrants from a secret federal court.
The dossier was generated by the Clinton campaign. Its principal author was former British spy Christopher Steele. Steele’s main source was Danchenko, a Russian native based in the United States who worked at the Brookings Institution — a Washington think tank whose former president, Strobe Talbott, is a college friend of Bill Clinton’s who worked in the Clinton State Department.
It isn’t the fact of Danchenko’s lies that make this story so explosive: it’s what he lied about, and to whom, and what it all spells out. That’s why the leftist establishment is framing this as a process crime: “Danchenko lied, and that was bad of him, so a grand jury indicted him and he’s been arrested.”
But let’s move beyond DR’s misleading headline and get to their crime against journalism.
The article itself begins with two paragraphs reminding readers of the Mueller investigation:
When a “special prosecutor” is mentioned in connection with Donald Trump and Russia, the vast majority probably think of Robert Mueller.
In March 2019, the former FBI chief handed over a major report on Russia’s interference in the US presidential election in 2016. The report raised a number of criticisms of Trump and his staff’s relationship with Russia. Robert Mueller, however, found no clear evidence of a criminal conspiracy.
Only in the third paragraph are we given our first hint what this story is actually about:
But there is actually another special prosecutor looking at the same case—albeit from a somewhat different angle. His name is John Durham, and unlike Robert Mueller’s, his investigation is still running.
The problem is that between the second and third paragraphs, we’re distracted by a massive graphic. This one:
“Tidslinje” means timeline.
The big white text says “The red thread from Trump to Moscow.”
(A red thread is a Danish colloquialism for a throughline.)
The text in the blue box says “Read how it began.”
If you click on the blue box, you’re brought to a long feature article that was probably prepared by DR not long after the Mueller report was made public. With the knowledge we have today, however, it’s just a shameful example of how badly DR, and most establishment media, wanted to believe the whole Russian collusion narrative.
Significantly, clicking on the link doesn’t open that “background” article in a new tab or window: it just redirects the browser to that article.
How many readers, one cannot help but wonder, will read the vague headline on DR’s home page, click through to the article, read the two paragraphs about the Mueller investigation, click through to the background piece, and never make it back to the remaining paragraphs of the original article—the ones about Danchenko’s arrest and its implications?
Paragraphs, for example, like these (my emphasis):
But Special Prosecutor John Durham believes Igor Danchenko lied five times about where he got his information from when the FBI questioned him about the report later in 2017.
And a grand jury has found the evidence against the Russian so credible that it has indicted him. A prosecutor tells Reuters that the accused risks five years in prison per lie. He denies guilt.
According to the indictment, Igor Danchenko has, among other things, misled the FBI by denying that one of his sources worked as a volunteer for the Democratic presidential candidate in 2016, Hillary Clinton.
Sort of significant, that last bit, don’t you think?
More significant to the story than, for example, all the superfluous talk about Mueller in the opening paragraphs.
Taxpayer-funded DR didn’t just bury the lede: they cremated it and scattered its ashes.