July 30, 2017

Headline at Deceptive NY Times Story Ties Trump(!) to Dems’ IT Scandal

The first news reports of House IT staffer Imran Awan’s Monday arrest “for attempting to flee the country and charged with bank fraud” came out on Tuesday. The New York Times did not file a related story until Friday afternoon, roughly 72 hours later, for Saturday’s print edition. Reporter Nicholas Fandos’s Page A18 item is one of the most obvious and disgraceful attempts at misdirection and reality avoidance one will ever see, starting with its headline, which, incredibly, makes it appear as if this scandal, which the Democratic Party entirely owns, involves President Donald Trump.

Here is that headline:

NYTheadlineOnAwanArrest072817

Any reader who was previously unaware of this scandal would surely believe, based on this headline, that it’s Republicans who have a problem, and that the I.T. person formerly worked for the Trump administration.

That the Times deliberately composed this headline to deceive isn’t arguable. The paper knows that this story is about Democrats, and the story’s URL, which reflects a headline used earlier Friday — “imran-awan-debbie-wasserman-shultz-pakistan.html” (nice touch there, misspelling the congresswoman’s name) — proves that a previous genuinely informative headline was suppressed.

The Times gave Trump headlined treatment only because he retweeted a Thursday morning Townhall.com tweet about the press’s failure to cover Awan’s arrest: “ABC, NBC, And CBS Pretty Much Bury IT Scandal Engulfing Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Office.” Townhall’s Thursday morning report referenced Curtis Houck’s Wednesday evening post at NewsBusters, which noted that only CBS mentioned the scandal at all, giving it 37 seconds of coverage.

In a largely substance-free report which was all about casting doubt on previous reporting on the scandal by center-right outlets, particularly the Daily Caller, Times reporter Fandos exposed the establishment press’s double standard relating to when stories are deemed newsworthy.

The Daily Caller alone has now published two dozen stories on the Dems’ IT scandal, producing mountains of damning evidence concerning potential compromises of sensitive information and obstruction of authorities’ investigations.

But as Holmes Lybrand at the Daily Caller noted Friday evening, the Times, which has spent month after month publishing anonymously sourced and frequently rebutted stories on alleged election-related and other collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, has raised the evidentiary bar in covering the Awan story, despite the existence of court and other records supporting the DC’s work.

Just a few of Fandos’s most self-damning paragraphs include the following (links are in originals and bolds are mine throughout this post):

The Daily Caller, with almost two dozen articles on the family, has led the pack in reporting the story, packaging new details that have dribbled out of the investigation into a growing web of material, even as few in the mainstream news media paid attention.

That is until Monday, when Mr. Awan was arrested by the F.B.I. and United States Capitol Police on seemingly unrelated charges as he tried to board a flight to Pakistan. In the days since, the story has raced down an increasingly familiar track at warp speed, from the fringes of the internet to Fox News and other established publications.

Since the Daily Caller, as noted, has been on this story for six months, Fandos is clearly attempting to marginalize it as a part of the “fringes of the internet.” This is a characterization the Times would never apply to the Miami Herald, the Seattle Times, the Boston Globe, or Philly.com, all of whose sites as of Sunday morning had lower traffic ratings than the Daily Caller at Alexa.com.

Continuing in Fandos’s fantasy:

But for all the publicity, few if any of the fundamental facts of the case have come into focus. The criminal complaint against Mr. Awan filed on Monday alleges that he and his wife conspired to secure a fraudulent loan, not to commit espionage or political high jinks. And Mr. Awan’s lawyer, Christopher Gowen, says the more explosive accusations are the product of an anti-Muslim, right-wing smear job targeting his client and his client’s family.

So is the family’s story the stuff of a spy novel, ripe for sleuthing and criminal prosecution, or simply an overblown Washington story, typical of midsummer? Many here are finding it hard to say.

The tale more or less began six months ago, when investigators for the United States Capitol Police started looking into allegations by unnamed House lawmakers that the Pakistani-Americans had executed some sort of scam. What, exactly, has not been clear. News outlets have alluded variously to a procurement scheme, outright theft of computers or unauthorized access to computer networks — in addition to more extreme crimes like espionage.

The Times has only needed one or more anonymous source to publish stories about Trump and Russia, but it won’t dignify the possibility that stories with much stronger evidentiary support concerning the crimes just identified have validity.

Lybrand’s response at the Daily Caller called out the refusal by the Times and two other online sites to provide or refer to a slew of relevant details:

Media Ditches Substance Of Wasserman Schultz FBI Boondoggle To Focus On Conspiracy Theories

… The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group reporter Luke Rosiak, who has covered this story extensively since it first appeared in February, broke the news Sunday that “FBI agents seized smashed computer hard drives from the home of Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s information technology (IT) administrator, according to two sources with knowledge of the investigation.”

The NYT and BuzzFeed fail to mention this and many other key facts in recent articles, and Snopes obfuscates the story by rating a claim from a no-name blog as false, requiring the reader to dig through the fact check to find the truth.

… A NYT article Friday dedicates the vast majority of its space to casting doubt on stories surrounding Awan by using his lawyer, Christopher Gowen, as a reputable defense for Awan. Not only does the NYT ignore Gowen’s deep ties to Clinton, which TheDCNF has reported in detail, but the article also attempts to cast doubt by citing theories from a no-name conspiracy theorist who supports Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (though NYT calls him a “right winger”).

The NYT complains that “for all the publicity, few if any of the fundamental facts of the case have come into focus,” but fails to mention some of those fundamental facts within the article. The article makes no mention of the official Fairfax court documents that Rosiak has repeatedly linked to in his multiple stories on the Awans …

Regardless of external noise, theories and blogs, the NYT, BuzzFeed and Snopes have made a perhaps unwitting effort to obfuscate information surrounding the Awan story.

One could go on and on chronicling the obfuscations, distortions, outright falsehoods in the Times writeup which clearly show how overly generous Lybrand’s description of Fandos’s work as an “unwitting effort” is. Here are just a few:

  • Though Awan and several of his relatives who managed office information technology for members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and other lawmakers worked for House Democrats and were relieved of those duties almost six months ago, Congresswoman and former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz kept Awan on her payroll until she fired him Tuesday evening. The Times described that firing as a choice by Schultz to “terminate a longstanding work arrangement.”
  • Fandos wrote that Awan and his family “contracted to work part time for more than a dozen Democratic members of Congress, including Ms. Wasserman Schultz.” He did not mention the House Intelligence Committee, and the known affected Democratic congresspersons, including Schultz, number 30, i.e., 2-1/2 dozen, not just one.
  • Fandos wrote that “Ms. Wasserman Schultz has been a favorite target of conspiracy theorists on both the left and the right since last July,” when WikiLeaks documents “showed party officials had conspired to harm the presidential candidacy of Senator Bernie Sanders.” Fandos somehow forgot to report that Schultz resigned as Democratic National Committee chairman as a result of those revelations — and the DNC’s determination to have the party nominate Hillary Clinton over Sanders “from the start” is reality, not a conspiracy theory.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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