Donald Trump, for reasons I’ve repeatedly pointed out, is an extremist, despicable, and dangerous candidate, and his almost-certain humiliating defeat is less than a month away. So I realize there is little appetite in certain circles for critiques of any of the tawdry and sometimes fraudulent journalistic claims and tactics being deployed to further that goal. In the face of an abusive, misogynistic, bigoted, scary, lawless authoritarian, what’s a little journalistic fraud or constant fearmongering about subversive Kremlin agents between friends if it helps to stop him?
But come January, Democrats will continue to be the dominant political faction in the U.S. — more so than ever — and the tactics they are now embracing will endure past the election, making them worthy of scrutiny. Those tactics now most prominently include dismissing away any facts or documents that reflect negatively on their leaders as fake, and strongly insinuating that anyone who questions or opposes those leaders is a stooge or agent of the Kremlin, tasked with a subversive and dangerously un-American mission on behalf of hostile actors in Moscow.
To see how extreme and damaging this behavior has become, let’s just quickly examine two utterly false claims that Democrats over the past four days — led by party-loyal journalists — have disseminated and induced thousands of people, if not more, to believe. On Friday, WikiLeaks published its first installment of emails obtained from the account of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Despite WikiLeaks’ perfect, long-standing record of only publishing authentic documents, MSNBC’s favorite ex-intelligence official, Malcolm Nance, within hours of the archive’s release, posted a tweet claiming — with zero evidence and without citation to a single document in the WikiLeaks archive — that it was compromised with fakes:
— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) October 7, 2016
As you can see, more than 4,000 people have re-tweeted this “Official Warning.” That includes not only random Clinton fans but also high-profile Clinton-supporting journalists, who by spreading it around gave this claim their stamp of approval, intentionally leading huge numbers of people to assume the WikiLeaks archive must be full of fakes, and its contents should therefore simply be ignored. Clinton’s campaign officials spent the day fueling these insinuations, strongly implying that the documents were unreliable and should thus be ignored. Poof: Just like that, unpleasant facts about Hillary Clinton disappeared, like a fairy protecting frightened children by waving her magic wand and sprinkling her dust over a demon, causing it to scatter away.
Except the only fraud here was Nance’s claim, not any of the documents published by WikiLeaks. Those were all real. Indeed, at Sunday night’s debate, when asked directly about the excerpts of her Wall Street speeches found in the release, Clinton herself confirmed their authenticity. And news outlets such as the New York Times and AP reported — and continue to report — on their contents without any caveat that they may be frauds. No real print journalists or actual newsrooms (as opposed to campaign operatives masquerading as journalists) fell for this scam, so this tactic did not prevent reporting from being done.
But it did signal to Clinton’s most devoted followers to simply ignore the contents of the release. Anyone writing articles about what these documents revealed was instantly barraged with claims from Democrats that they were fakes...
Read the rest of this article (with possible updates) at The Intercept.