Guilt By Association

One of the more common declarations by our ‘betters’ at the top levels of government, industry, media, and entertainment is that President Trump has some sort of great affinity for totalitarian dictatorships and is seeking to implement something similar in the Home of the Brave. It only takes the most cursory glance at the definitions of terms like ‘totalitarian’ to understand that those elites which go after Trump in that manner are projecting, and in a big way. Consider the following except from the book Political Participation in Communist China by James Roger Townsend:

Nevertheless, the Party does not expel them from the ranks of the “people” for their sin of omission and they need not fear physical punishment. At the same time they cannot escape some compulsion to conform. This compulsion normally takes the form of social pressure- intensified persuasion by cadres and activists, public criticism and condemnation, and perhaps some form of ostracism. It may also take the form of a justifiable fear on the part of the “passivist” that he is jeopardizing his future by acquiring a bad name, although this fear is much stronger among professional and technical strata than among the masses of workers and peasants for whom individual promotion and placement is less a meaningful question.

Here Townsend was describing the tactics used by the Communists to bully those, in this case those who weren’t sufficiently supportive of The Party and its aims, into compliance. It is not a perfect parallel, but this sort of bullying is increasingly rained down from On High upon dissidents in West – those who don’t enthusiastically swallow the TEPID (tolerance, equality, progressive, inclusion, diversity) ideology.

Earlier this week, Tucker Carlson’s show brought the plight of Darren Beattie to my attention. Beattie was speechwriter for President Trump, who was fired after CNN discovered that Beattie had attended the Mencken Conference in 2016. I’ll let CNN tell you why that was a bad thing:

A speechwriter for President Donald Trump who attended a conference frequented by white nationalists has left the White House.

CNN’s KFile reached out to the White House last week about Darren Beattie, a policy aide and speechwriter, who was listed as speaking at the 2016 H.L. Mencken Club Conference.

The Mencken Club, which is named for the early 20th century journalist and satirist whose posthumously published diaries revealed racist views, is a small annual conference started in 2008 and regularly attended by well-known white nationalists such as Richard Spencer. The schedule for the 2016 conference listed panels and speeches by white nationalist Peter Brimelow and two writers, John Derbyshire and Robert Weissberg, who were both fired in 2012 from the conservative magazine National Review for espousing racist views.

Other speakers from the 2016 conference are regular contributors to the white nationalist website VDare. Jared Taylor, another leading white nationalist, can be heard at the conference in 2016 on Derbyshire’s radio show along with Brimelow.

The White House, which asked CNN to hold off on the story for several days last week declined to say when Beattie left the White House. Beattie’s email address at the White House, which worked until late Friday evening, was no longer active by Saturday.

You see, Beattie’s great sin was being in the same room as some of the most unfancied dissidents in America, according to our elites. Note, Beattie is not accused of saying anything “racist” himself, or even being on record as saying nice things about one of the other Bad Thinkers mentioned. He merely breathed the same air as they did for a few hours. According to the press, this is now a disqualifying act.

It is really important to stress the fact that Beattie did, nor said anything objectionable, even in the context of the easily upset sensibilities of the day. After his firing was made public, Beattie published the text of the speech he gave. The word “white,” or “race” appear nowhere. The speech was merely a technical discussion of the intellectual underpinnings of a potentially burgeoning movement on the political right. It would not be out of place at any political science talk or lecture at any college campus in the world. Go ahead and read it if you don’t believe me.

None of that mattered however; Beattie was guilty by association. CNN’s behavior in the matter is textbook for totalitarians. Having become aware of Beattie it “reached out to the White House” to inform them that they had a Bad Thinker in its midst. The manner in which the article describes the White House almost pleading with CNN not to go public with a story about a White House connection to Bad Thinkers suggests it was afraid of a manufactured outrage campaign. Undoubtedly the author of the piece, Andrew Kaczynski, who has made a living out of this sort of blackmail journalism, intimated as much to the White House.

The cowardice shown by White House in caving in and firing Beattie is not lost on me. I mention it here to highlight that the White House playing nice did not abate the press. Robert Costa of the Washington Post first posed concerns over the vetting process accompanied with hiring White House staffers:

He then got the bright idea of wondering if anyone else in the administration had come in contact with Peter Brimelow. Brimelow of course is the exiled National Review editor who went off on his own to start VDARE.

Having smelled blood, the press moved in for another kill, and it seemed to find one in Trump’s senior economic advisor, Larry Kudlow.

Brimelow happens to be a long time friend of Kudlow, and was reported to have attended a birthday party in Kudlow’s honor last weekend. This egregious discovery was then reported on by Costa at the Washington Post.

Kudlow’s ‘defense’ was that he didn’t know that Brimelow held certain views (Brimelow is anti-immigration). I doubt that is the truth; as stated before the two men have been friends for decades and surely have had discussions on the topic at some stage. Kudlow was simply managing the PR. It seems to me that the two men have simply had a disagreement and left it at that while remaining friends. 

In our current age, such civility is unfathomable. The totalitarian leanings of the TEPID set are such that if one happens to hold an objectionable view, anyone who associates with that person must secretly hold that view as well. Thus, the person must be subject to ostracism and social pressure until he renders a nuclear disavowal of the objectionable individual he associates with. Failure to do so must result in a firing, boycott, ban, etc. Thankfully Kudlow has not been fired, at least not yet.

This is what our Free Press has been reduced to. Be mindful of who you invite to your birthday party in this totally Not Totalitarian Clown World. And on top of this, the legacy media has the cheek to frame itself as risking life and limb to “speak truth to power,” every time someone is slightly critical of that well-regarded pillar of democracy. It is more accurate to say that it powerfully speaks ill of the Truth.

Reality Doesn’t Care About Feelings, Vol. 8 – Urban Meyer vs The Mob

“I followed my heart, not my head. As I reflect, my loyalty to his grandfather Earle Bruce, who was my mentor, likely impacted how I treated Zach over the years.”

That was how Ohio State University football coach Urban Meyer attempted to do a little self-reflection during a press conference on Wednesday evening. He was addressing his failure to fire Zach Smith, his assistant coach and the grandson of his mentor, until July 23rd of this year despite a track record of poor behavior spanning nearly a decade.

The most egregious entanglements Smith got himself in were in regards to domestic violence allegations, the most recent of which cost him his job. If you pay attention to sportsball in any capacity, you’ve heard of this story; if you haven’t here is a nice summary of what happened:

The saga began in earnest on July 23, when Zach Smith was fired after the independent journalist Brett McMurphy reported on Facebook that Courtney Smith had requested a protection order against him. He also reported that Zach Smith had been accused of domestic violence in 2009, when he was an assistant to Meyer at Florida, and in 2015, when they were both at Ohio State.

Courtney Smith, who is now divorced from Zach Smith, had said that Shelley Meyer had extensive knowledge of the abuse allegations in 2015, McMurphy reported. Courtney Smith’s story was supported by text messages, according to the report.

A week earlier, at a news conference for the Big Ten Conference, Urban Meyer said that he had known of the 2009 accusations and that he and his wife had talked with the Smiths after a police investigation. But when confronted with questions about the 2015 allegations during the news conference, Meyer said he had learned of the accusations only the night before.

The next week, he retracted that denial, saying in his statement that he had failed to be “clear, compassionate and, most of all, completely accurate” in his previous comments.

At this point, the media frenzy went into overdrive, prompting Ohio State to put Meyer on administrative leave pending an investigation. That investigation concluded this past Wednesday, and the final conclusion was to give Meyer a 3 game suspension. The university released an independent, 23 page report about its findings:

It began by stating the relevant question:

In the hiring, retaining, supervising and firing of former Assistant Coach Zach Smith, did Head Coach Urban Meyer (“Coach Meyer”) violate any Ohio State University (“OSU”) policies or rules, Title IX, NCAA rules, Big Ten Rules, Ohio State Ethics laws, any other state or federal laws, or his contractual obligations to OSU in connection with Zach Smith’s alleged commission of domestic violence against his former wife, including any obligations to report the alleged domestic violence?

In 2009, while Smith and Meyer were at the University of Florida, Smith was arrested for aggravated battery of his wife, who was pregnant at the time. Despite this, no formal charges were ever filed by Smith’s wife, Courtney. The relevance to his hiring at Ohio State is discussed in the report as follows:

OSU performed a standard background check on Zach Smith prior to his being hired as an Assistant Coach at OSU in December 2011 by Coach Meyer; the background check did not call for or return arrest information, and Zach Smith’s arrest in 2009 was therefore unknown to others at OSU at the time he was hired.

Coach Meyer did not inform others at OSU about Zach Smith’s 2009 arrest. Coach Meyer has explained that he did not do so because no charges were filed and because he believed Zach Smith had not engaged in domestic violence in 2009.

In other words, because no charges were ever filed, Meyer felt no need to bring it up. After his hiring, Smith was involved with other conduct which is, at the very least, questionable. The report goes into detail, but here I will merely list the events, and whether Meyer knew about them, according to the report:

  • In 2013 Smith was Arrested for DUI – Meyer was not made aware
  • In May 2014 ran up a large strip club bill while on a recruiting trip – Meyer was made aware, and he reprimanded the coach, warning him that further behavior of this sort was a terminable offense. Meyer inserted a morality clause into the team Coaching Manual to reflect this.
  • From 2014-2016, Smith had multiple occasions in which his credit card was declined and in which he was delinquent in paying for travel and other expenses. The OSU travel office and higher ups in the administration were involved. The report says Meyer had a vague recollection of the incidents
  • In 2015, a domestic violence investigation into Smith was initiated by local police. Meyer noted that if it was discovered that Smith hit his wife, or that charges were filed, he would be fired.
  • In 2015-2016, Smith is described to have shown diminished job performance, being late to practices and other team functions, among other things. Meyer warned him that such continued behavior would lead to termination
  • During the 2015-2016 period, Smith was involved in a sexual affair with a member of the staff. Meyer was not made aware of this
  • In 2016, Smith was advised by Meyer to seek treatment and rehab for an addiction to ADHD mediation
  • In December 2017, Smith was given a trespass warning by local police for entering the premises of his now ex-wife. Meyer did not know about this
  • In May of 2018, Smith was charged with criminal trespass. Meyer did not know about this until July 20th, after a further civil protection order was made against Smith. Meyer found out about this through media reports.
  • On July 23rd, Meyer fired Smith.

On first glance, Meyer’s failure to act after this laundry list of problematic behavior is damning. It is much less damning when one considers the fact that Meyer was not made aware of everything. What Meyer did know in real time was about Smith’s hanky panky in the strip club, his financial issues, an apparent medication addiction affecting his job performance and an official suspicion of domestic violence by authorities.

Taking account of the sentimental nature of his relationship with Smith, the fact Meyer kept giving Smith a pass is understandable. Call it nepotism, preferential treatment or whatever, but that’s just what people do for their own. And excuse me for trying to read Meyer’s thinking here, but it’s entirely possible that knowing that Smith was in a trainwreck of a marriage, Meyer viewed all of Smith’s  issues as interrelated, and as such he was perhaps more inclined to cut him a few extra breaks.

Poor judgment? Sure. But was any of this in violation of OSU policy, or indeed federal, state or local law? The investigation answers with the following:

Under his employment contract with OSU, Urban Meyer had at all relevant times an obligation to “immediately report to the [Athletic] Director and to the Department’s Office of Compliance Services in writing if any person or entity, including without limitation, representatives of Ohio State’s athletic interests, has violated or is likely to violate or may potentially have violated any [applicable] laws,” including all federal, state and local laws. (Meyer Employment Contract §4.1.d)


Because they believed Zach Smith’s denials and because there was no charge or arrest in connection with the 2015-2016 events, neither Coach Meyer nor AD Smith believed that there had been a violation or a potential violation of the law and therefore neither had reporting obligations regarding what they knew about the law enforcement investigation of Zach Smith. In addition, Coach Meyer, because he was first informed of the investigation by AD Smith, believed that he had no further reporting obligations.

In assessing their reporting obligations, both Coach Meyer and AD Smith placed heavy reliance on the absence of formal law enforcement or court action. Neither made any report of the matter to Athletic Compliance or University Compliance for consideration of whether an internal investigation should be conducted. Under the broad language of their contracts, reporting obligations can be triggered in the absence of formal, external action.

Reporting requirements are intended to be both broad and redundant – in the case of Coach Meyer, they require reporting (in writing) to two places (to the AD and to Athletic Compliance) and the obligation to report is placed on each individual, an obligation not relieved by the knowledge or reporting by another individual. While we find that both Coach Meyer and AD Smith believed in good faith that they did not have sufficient information to trigger any reporting obligation, we believe that they viewed the issue too narrowly through the lens of law enforcement action.

Here’s where things start to get interesting. The investigative team ruled that Meyer had done nothing wrong based on the narrowest interpretation of his contractual obligations. Recall that Smith had not been formally charged with anything until May of 2018. So despite Meyer’s knowledge of Smith’s domestic issues going as far back as 2009, the lack of formal charges meant Meyer was technically not required to report anything to Ohio State compliance. Note that when Meyer did find out about the formal charges of May 2018 through the media two months later, he did fire Smith – which is consistent with the warning he gave to Smith during the 2015 period.

The investigators insert what can only be described as their personal lament that Meyer did not take the broadest interpretation of his obligations. Under that interpretation, Meyer should never even have hired Smith at Ohio State because of his 2009 arrest, but having done so, Smith should have been fired on several occasions because of the mere accusations against him. The lack of any charges, let alone convictions, are irrelevant. This is consistent with the moral attitude of the current day which places the outrage of the mob above fundamental conventions such as due process.

With this in mind, consider the following from the investigation about other obligations Meyer had:

Termination for cause is permitted based on the “Commission of or participation in by Coach of any act, situation, or occurrence which, in Ohio State’s judgment, brings Coach and/or Ohio State into public disrepute, embarrassment, contempt, scandal or ridicule or failure by Coach to conform Coach’s personal conduct to conventional and contemporary standards of good citizenship, with such conduct offending prevailing social mores and values and/or reflecting unfavorably upon Ohio State’s reputation and overall primary mission and objectives, including but not limited to, acts of dishonesty [or] misrepresentation . . . .”

Based on this, Ohio State easily could have fired Meyer, on two counts. First, the aforementioned failure to adhere to the modern day convention that allegations are functionally equivalent to convictions flouted the requirement to conform to such “prevailing social mores and values.” Beyond this, Meyer unquestionably lied to the media when he was asked the proverbial What did You Know and When Did You Know It question at Big Ten Media Day, after he had fired Smith. Meyer also deleted all of his text messages older than a year on his cell phone.

That OSU did not fire Meyer was ultimately a giant double barreled middle finger raised at both the media and the social mores and values it champions. Of course in the immediate sense, the decision was not made because of a principled opposition to mob outrage, but rather because Meyer is one of the best coaches in college football history and his departure would likely cause a loss of tens of millions of dollars over the next several years. The mere existence of requirements to adhere to whatever ephemeral values the Social Justice set would foist upon the rest of us shows Ohio State’s core belief in these concepts. But the fact Meyer got off with a slap on the wrist suspension is absolutely just.

The media engaged in its usual mob vigilantism when it charged, tried, convicted and sentenced Meyer, starting within hours after the first reports of the allegations against Smith, and his subsequent firing surfaced. It ballooned into a full scale crisis after it was shown that Meyer had lied about his knowledge of the situation.

Mind you, Meyer’s actions in this matter boil down to not firing a guy who hadn’t been charged with anything, until he had been formally charged with something. From observing the avalanche of outrage, impassioned sports radio rantings and grand proclamations about how this of all things, shows how broken society is, one would be forgiven for thinking it was Urban Meyer who had been battering his wife.

Indeed it is not even clear that anyone was being battered at all. Courtney Smith’s own mother has cast some doubt on the matter with her comments regarding her daughter’s marriage. The only thing we really know for sure is that Zach and Courtney had an extremely bad marriage. We’ll find out the rest definitively after it plays out in court, and only then.

For completeness, beating your wife is wrong. It should go without saying, but judging by all the sanctimonious finger wagging going on, it seems that men across the land have not learned that  being among the Accused is a grave sin. We must teach them.

Silliness aside, the modern rush to judgment in social matters does no one any good, apart from those who seek power for the purposes of lording it over others at will. What do those vilifying Meyer wish to see? With his Bad Personhood confirmed by the press, was he never to coach again, anywhere? If his judgment now precludes him from coaching young football players, what profession do these media adjudicators, in their infinite wisdom, deem acceptable for a Bad Person like Meyer to participate in? Or is he simply unfit to contribute to society, period?

The reality of it all is that the only thing Meyer did wrong was to brazenly lie to the press. Naturally, the media, highlighting its unbelievable arrogance, behaved as though Big Ten Media Day was some sort of Federal Court setting, and that Meyer had raised his right hand while placing his left on the Bible before answering questions.

It was wrong, yes. But no one in this Clown World age should be begrudged for attempting to head off an outrage mob at the pass. Particularly when one is in the right. In retrospect Meyer should have told the truth – that he didn’t, and thus intensified a media storm unnecessarily – renders his suspension just about fair.

John Brennan, Free Speech and The Swamp

If you’ve been taking the various legacy media reports regarding John Brennan’s security revocation by President Trump last week to be good faith reporting, the one thing you got from them was that Trump was engaging in a direct attack on the First Amendment. The argument holds that by revoking Brennan’s security clearance, Trump was punishing him for making extremely critical remarks about the President on television. The knock on effect is to signal to all government officials that maintaining one’s clearance comes with an obligation not to criticize Trump.

In order to make this argument, one has to hold the following things as true – first that John Brennan had done nothing but express a political opinion, and that security clearances are some sort of proxy for a constitutional right to free speech.

Regarding the first, the reality is that John Brennan has done a lot more to warrant the revocation of a security clearance than just bloviating in the media. At the very least, his lying to Congress, twice, about very damning behavior from the CIA is more than enough justification. In fact, much of the media had called for Brennan’s resignation and/or firing at the time of these incidents.

More pertinent to Trump, Brennan leveled a charge of treason at the President after his meeting with Vladamir Putin. That has serious implications when it comes with the gravitas of an ex-CIA director potentially having intimate knowledge of incriminating, but classified matters. Indeed there are various investigations ongoing, and Brennan’s comments are at the very least irresponsible in light of that.

The bottom line is that, were Brennan attempting to apply for a security clearance today, with all of that on his record, he would be rejected instantly. Therefore it is no big deal that he does not have his clearance.

Which leads us to another angle the legacy media Is running with – namely that these clearances are some sort of stand-in for first amendment political speech. In addition, they represent a layer of national security maintenance, given that former officials with clearances may be needed in short bursts for their expertise in dealing with the intelligence and/or national security matters of the present.

A much less noted consequence of a security clearance revocation is the subsequent inability to land roles with private sector contractors and consulting firms which deal in information requiring such clearances. Brennan himself confirmed as much over the weekend with Chuck Todd, after Todd asked what the ramifications of losing a clearance were generally:

Well for me, it probably does mean that, that I just can’t go into the agency and have conversations with people who may call me up and ask me for my thoughts and views, and that has happened in the last couple of months. But for others, former officials who are on that list, some of them serve on boards of directors that require security clearances because the companies involved deal with classified information, and this can have a very punitive, very financial hit against them, and so now if I was asked to be on a board that requires a security clearance, I couldn’t.

Here, Brennan gets at the crux of the matter. The US government spends roughly $500 billion annually on contracts to the private sector, which in turn hires career government officials who have developed security clearances to handle the sensitive information that is dealt with. This explains how “career public servants” like James Comey can end up multimillionaires. In his case he went from the DOJ to Lockheed Martin and Bridgewater and made vast sums serving as counsel to those firms. Undoubtedly his clearances were of great value in securing these roles.

The issue underpinned the viral exchange between Phil Mudd and Paris Dennard on CNN earlier this week. A visibly unhinged Mudd scoffed at the argument that his security clearance served as a golden ticket. A look at his bio suggests otherwise:

Mr. Mudd is the President of Mudd Management, a company specializing in security consulting; analytic training; and public speaking about security issues.  He is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and The George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute.  He now serves as Senior Global Adviser to Oxford Analytica, a British-based firm specializing in advising multinational companies.   He sits  on the advisory board for the National Counterterrorism Center and for the Director of National Intelligence, and he serves on the Aspen Institute’s Homeland Security Group.

The idea that Mudd’s security clearance status affects absolutely none of those roles is difficult to believe, to put it mildly. Indeed, his inability to remain cool and his over the top defensiveness in the face of Dennard’s simple acknowledgement of the monetary benefits to holding a security clearance is telling. But more generally, his indignation is perfectly representative of how The Swamp must feel at this moment.

Those government officials who are particularly vexed by this, along with their mouthpeices in the media are ultimately less angered about Brennan specifically than they are about the sunlight now being directed on the revolving door between the government and private contractors and consultants.

Trump’s actions are alarming to the Swap because they are a disruption of a bipartisan feeding trough for some government officials. In the good old days, these individuals could put in their time in the Institutions, and then have the option to cash out at a cushy consulting gig, with a contractor, or as a media contributor. The game was largely kept outside of political squabbling because both Democrats and Republicans benefited handsomely from it.

In this regard, to refer to Trump as attacking the First Amendment is to effectively declare that these exalted career government officials have a Constitutional right to high paying sinecures once their time in government is up. It is just as well, given the legacy media is itself part of that Swamp.

That stance is incorrect, of course, and insidious to boot given the actual threat to free speech currently being posed by social media companies, mostly at the behest of the very legacy media which defends Brennan – and indeed the other government officials who are potentially set to lose their security clearances – from Trump.

In those other cases, the rumored revocations are tied to the conduct of the individuals in question with respect to prior and current FBI investigations. The recently fired Peter Stzrok, for example, is under review for likely manipulating and/or withholding 302s, which are essentially FBI transcripts of subject interviews. The media has framed any and all censure of Stzok however, as being a result of his anti-Trump text messages, painting a picture of political retribution by Trump. This is not accurate.

In the end, this piece of the saga highlights the entrenched nature of The Swamp, and its inability to let go of the status quo. It is also confirmation of President Trump’s effectiveness. He was elected to take these fights head on, and his mere engagement in them reveals to the  public, bit by bit, the reality of the corrupted system in which we find ourselves.

Anatomy of Fake News: Downplaying Bruce Ohr

Last week, Michael D. Shear, Katie Benner and Nicholas Fandos wrote a piece for The New York Times titled “Embracing Conspiracy Theory, Trump Escalates Attack on Bruce Ohr.” It is presented as a stone cold, sober news story, yet even before the byline, the article has engaged in editorializing. This has become a go-to tactic of our “objective” news media of late, which cannot seem to report on anything without first framing it in a way that meshes with a preconceived narrative.

In this case, the narrative is that President Trump is using his power to silence political critics in government, as well as those who are or were involved in the investigation surrounding the 2016 election.

The New York Times piece starts as follows:

WASHINGTON — President Trump threatened on Friday to quickly revoke the security clearance of Bruce Ohr, a little-known Justice Department official, for the first time seeking to apply his power to cut access to sensitive information to a midlevel government worker rather than a prominent former national security official.

In mentioning the fact that Ohr is a “little-known Justice Department official” and even more crudely, describing him as “a midlevel government worker,” the authors of the piece are attempting to paint an image of an average stiff. We are to believe that Ohr was a hapless cog in a machine, thus framing the subsequent scrutiny levied against him by Trump as that of an out of control bully.

The reality is that as of his demotion in December 2017, Ohr was an Associate Deputy Attorney General – a position which is just subordinate to the Associate Attorney General, who is the third ranked official at the DOJ. (Later in the piece, it is noted that the DOJ is a body with 113,000 employees). Nowhere in the article is Ohr’s former lofty rank at the DOJ mentioned.

In addition, he held (and still holds) the role of director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces. Indeed, Ohr would probably take exception at being described as “midlevel” and a mere “worker” by Shear, Benner and Fandos because he was nothing of the sort.

But, for the sake of the narrative, Ohr’s pedigree was severely downplayed. A few paragraphs later, Shear, Benner and Fandos write:

Mr. Trump began this week to use his power to void security clearances to punish perceived adversaries in the Russia investigation. His revocation of the clearance of John O. Brennan, a former C.I.A. director who has emerged as an outspoken critic of Mr. Trump, drew condemnation from former national security officials.

But by targeting Mr. Ohr, the president moved beyond his bitter clash with high-profile antagonists like Mr. Brennan and reached deep into the bureaucracy. Mr. Trump also forced a difficult choice on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general: accept the actions of the president or defend a public employee’s right to the normal process of appeals.

Again, the narrative the Newspaper of Record is trying to promulgate is one of an Authoritarian President Trump wielding his power in facilitating the destruction of all of his political enemies, big and small. In Brennan, a former CIA director, we are given an example of a big enemy. In Ohr, the “little known,” “midlevel government worker,” we must take as a small enemy. The description of Trump having to reach “deep into the bureaucracy” to get to Ohr adds further color to the narrative being spun.

So too does the minimization of Brennan’s actions play into the narrative. The Times authors encapsulate the totality of Brennan’s behavior in this saga in the benign label “outspoken critic.” To describe Trump’s actions, they note his “power” and willingness to “punish perceived adversaries,” thereby creating a sense that the President is at the very least abusing his power.

However, as Andrew McCarthy wrote over the weekend, the President’s revocation of Brennan’s security clearance was indeed justified. This is because Brennan, in his new role as a media pundit, frequently went beyond mere political criticism and spoke with the insinuation that law enforcement has President Trump dead to rights, and his impeachment is imminent. He merely cannot be explicit because, you know, the pertinent information is classified.

Furthermore, Brennan does this with the gravitas of an ex-CIA director, specifically the one who was in charge during the time covered by the multiple, ongoing investigations into the events of the 2016 election and beyond. At the very least his comments are irresponsible.

Beyond this, there is the issue of Brennan’s history of lying to Congress about spying on US Senate staffers in 2014. On that basis alone, Brennan would not be granted clearance if he were to apply for it today from scratch. That he even remained in the job beyond 2014 was absurd. Indeed, many of the same left leaning outlets now championing this poor little “outspoken critic” had called for his resignation or firing back then (here, here, and here). However, in service of The Narrative, a little hypocrisy is no bother.

We continue:

Mr. Ohr, a career law enforcement official who has worked on antidrug and antigang initiatives at the Justice Department, has been targeted by conservative allies of Mr. Trump who have seized on the fact that Mr. Ohr was at the department at the same time that his wife, Nellie, was a contractor for Fusion GPS, a research firm that participated in compiling a dossier of damaging information about Mr. Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Ohr is portrayed again as some sort of stiff just working on drug and gang cases, who just happened to be married to a contractor for the firm which helped to produce the infamous Trump Dossier. That this ‘coincidence’ has been “seized on” by “conservative allies” is supposed to inform the reader that Ohr is a victim of a right wing conspiracy theory. Furthering that idea, Shear, Benner and Fandos write:

Conservatives have pointed out that emails show that in 2016, Mr. Ohr was in contact with Christopher Steele, the British former spy who compiled the dossier, in part by relying on Russian sources, and with Glenn R. Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS. Democrats have called the accusations ridiculous and overblown.

The phrase “conservatives have pointed out” deliberately muddies the waters, drenching plain fact in insinuations of politically motivated spin.

Mr. Ohr was in touch with Mr. Steele, a professional acquaintance whom he had known before Mr. Steele began working for Fusion GPS, through summer and fall 2016, including one conversation in which Mr. Steele said that he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.”

Mr. Ohr eventually told the F.B.I. about his wife’s work and about his conversations with Mr. Steele, passing along information given to him by Mr. Steele that the F.B.I. had already received directly from the former spy. Mr. Steele had worked with the bureau on past cases.

Shear, Benner and Fandos paint an innocuous picture here, but leave out a crucial detail. Steele had indeed worked with the FBI, but had those ties severed for leaking information to the media. Therefore, the FBI could no longer credibly use Steele’s information in its investigation. Given that Steele was essentially the only source of information, it would have left the investigation at a dead end.

Enter Bruce Ohr, whose wife Nellie worked with the same firm that Steele had been working with, Fusion GPS. Steele’s information passed through Nellie and Bruce Ohr to the FBI. The FBI was thus getting laundered information from Ohr, a “source” untainted by a leaking offense.

It was for this that Ohr was demoted back in December. This laundering aspect of the investigation was confirmed by Peter Stzrok, who testified last month to receiving Steele’s information from Ohr.

Now comes the obfuscation, lest the reader begins to veer towards the truth:

And no evidence has emerged showing that Mr. Ohr or his wife played a role in starting the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation. Rather, it was contacts between a former Trump foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, and Russian intermediaries that prompted the bureau to open the inquiry in late July 2016.

But Mr. Trump has embraced the theory, casting Mr. Ohr and his wife as central players in what he calls the “rigged witch hunt” and accusing the couple of having what he claims are indirect contacts with Russians — apparently a reference to Mr. Steele’s research.

And a few paragraphs later:

Republican lawmakers who strongly support Mr. Trump, mostly in the House, have circled Mr. Ohr and his wife for months, alleging connections to Mr. Steele and the Democrat-funded dossier they argue formed the basis for a politically motivated investigation into the Trump campaign.

No one is alleging that the Ohr’s were the reason the FBI started the Russia investigation, as the Times writes. What is suggested is that the Ohr’s played a role in ‘cleansing’ the Steele dossier for the purposes of presenting it to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, in pursuit of a FISA warrant which allowed for the monitoring of one-time Trump campaign participant Carter Page.

The scandal stems from the fact that Steele’s information was unverified, and furthermore his credibility as a source was damaged by his leaking to the press. The Ohrs facilitated the rehabilitation of the Steele information by presenting it to the FBI as though it was coming from the DOJ, thus providing a more credible source.

This is not “theory.” This comes from sworn testimony, as well as newly released evidence of contacts between Steele and Bruce Ohr. Yet the Times wants us to believe that it is Trump who is waging a politically motivated assault on dutiful government workers over political differences. Towards the end, Shear, Benner and Fados write:

Republicans who control Congress have shown little interest in directly challenging Mr. Trump on security clearances or his broadsides against investigators.

And in a letter released Friday, 60 former C.I.A. officials said they objected to Mr. Trump’s threats to remove clearances of former security officials, adding their names to the chorus of senior intelligence officers condemning the revocation of Mr. Brennan’s clearance. The letter argued that “the country will be weakened if there is a political litmus test applied before seasoned experts are allowed to share their view.”

Trump’s critical views of the actions of Bruce Ohr, and indeed John Brennan, are couched as “broadsides against investigators,” continuing the theme of ascribing to Trump’s actions a negative connotation and the implication that these actions are that of an authoritarian. It implicates Republicans as well, describing them as unwilling to challenge Trump, before quoting former officials lamenting the supposed weakening of the country thanks to Trump’s ‘tyranny.’

The reality is that Trump’s “broadsides” have been levied against people who have, at the very least acted unethically, if not criminally. They have not been mere political critics as has been implied.

Peter Stzrok was not fired for anti-Trump text messages but for likely manipulating and/or withholding information in the 302s (written memos of FBI interviews with subjects) of Hillary Clinton and Michael Flynn. Bruce Ohr was not fired for his political views. Indeed, the Times goes to great lengths to state how “little known” Ohr was, which suggests that logically the only way he could have made a name for himself was by doing something very severe. The Times own reporting mentions those severe actions actions, Ohr’s role in the information laundering effort, but tries to gloss over it. The Times then tries to reframe any criticism of Ohr on these very legitimate grounds as politically motived conspiracy theories, even using the title of the piece to hammer the idea home.

However one can hardly be accused of peddling conspiracy theories given that all of the criticism stems from on the record evidence disseminated in reporting on investigations by Congress and other internal government bodies, as well as sworn testimony by principle witnesses.

And with that, Michael D. Shear, Katie Benner and Nicholas Fandos completed an exercise in obfuscation, lying by omission and plain dishonesty in the service of the narrative that President Trump is a dictator using his power to silence his political enemies. The charge is patently false; Trump has not placed any restriction upon any individual or organization critical of him. That is an important thing to note in light of his battles with the Press, culminating in a coordinated, simultaneous attack by some 300+ news organizations against the President last week.

What Trump has done, in spades, is to be critical of his critics, in a particularly sharp and stinging manner to boot. There is nothing wrong with this, particularly when his critics engage in the tactics on display in the Shear, Benner and Fandos piece. Very little of what is written in the piece is an outright lie, which is to say factually incorrect.

What the piece does do is augment factual information with clever qualifiers and negative connotations to nudge the reader towrard the worst possible interpretation of events.

As mentioned, this process begins straight from the headline, leading by accusing President Trump of “embracing conspiracy theory,” yet burying the factual evidence which contradicts that accusation in the 8th and 9th paragraphs.

Its mischaracterization of Ohr and the omission of pertinent information regarding his situation lead the reader to believe the drastic moves the President makes are that of a petty tyrant, or alternatively, an act of desperation in saving his own skin.

The omission of Brennan’s catalog of bad behavior and portrayal as a mere political observer similarly leads one to the conclusion that Trump is being heavy handed in his response. So too does the mention of a letter released by dozens of ex-CIA officials, the purpose of which is to add a perceived layer of sober authority.

And with all of this done under the masthead of the New York Times, what is naked political propaganda is recast as objective news. It is this sort of thing that President Trump has raged against, and rightly so. The pushing of bias and opinion as down the middle factual reporting is the essence of “fake news” in the Trump era. The public at large still sees the NYT masthead and assumes objectivity, even if they are increasingly wary. In a bygone age, organizations like the Times had a monopoly on such objectivity.

In the age of the internet, and more specifically social media, this monopoly is gone. Articles such as the Shear, Bonner and Fandos piece which are supposed to form the public’s understanding can be taken apart and ridiculed for what they are. The president regularly does this from his Twitter bully pulpit, and on a smaller scale, conservatives on Twitter, YouTube, blogs and discussion forums are doing the same.

The press doesn’t like this, and true to form, label critiques of their offerings as “attacks on the Free Press.” They are nothing of the sort, merely necessary corrections to the record. It is my aim that the techniques dissected here will jump off the page the next time the reader should encounter such “reporting,” and armed with such knowledge, the reader will better understand it for what it is.

Unfortunately, the more frequently the reader consumes legacy media, the more frequently such skills will be required.