November 4, 2017

Media Won’t Genuinely Describe Full Scope of Fusion GPS’s Work

Now that Hillary Clinton has admitted that her campaign and the Democratic National Committee — which we now know her campaign totally controlled beginning in August 2015 — paid Fusion GPS for the infamous Trump-Russia dossier, it’s long past time that people understand the full scope of what that firm, which has been serially misrepresented as just another “opposition research” outfit, has done to change the media landscape. Don’t count on the establishment press to do it, because, as we’ll see, Fusion has played a major role in corrupting their determination of what “news” is, how it gets covered — and how it gets covered up.

Katie Pavlich reported at Townhall on Thursday that Mrs. Clinton, in typical fashion, made her damning admission “by default” in a Wednesday evening interview with the Clinton-friendly Trevor Noah on the Daily Show. Noah teed up a softball question — which, based on its unnatural wording, appears to be have been written for him — designed to make her just-admitted campaign’s funding of the dossier appear relatively inconsequential:

Transcript (bolds are mine):

TREVOR NOAH: When you look at the conversations in the echo chambers, one popular narrative that has emerged in and around Russia has been “the Clinton dossier (make scare quotes with his hands), the document involving Donald Trump and pee, which has now come out as a document that the DNC and your campaign worked to pay for.

People say, “Hillary, is there a difference between your team paying for this opposition research and Donald Trump’s people working with the Russians to influence the election?” Is there a difference?

HILLARY CLINTON: Of course there is.

Noah framed his question so that Mrs. Clinton could tacitly admit to funding the dossier without having to utter the admission herself. Even then, Noah watered it down to “worked to pay for” instead of just saying “paid for.”

Noah’s question acts as if “Trump’s people working with the Russians to influence the election” is an accepted fact, even though to this point no evidence supporting that claim has emerged.

Noah also appears to have decided to call the document involved the “Clinton dossier,” complete with scare-quote hand gestures, to give Mrs. Clinton the opportunity to claim, as seen in a video of the full interview segment, that the work on the document originally began under the direction of a Republican donor.

Pavlich noted that this is not true, and also observed that Mrs. Clinton and the DNC, after having lied about funding the dossier for almost a year, only admitted the truth under duress:

Clinton misrepresented the original hiring of Fusion GPS by a Republican donor. That donor was Peter Singer, who hired the firm on behalf of the Washington Free Beacon to do research on all of the GOP candidates during the primary, including Trump. Fusion GPS did not employ Christopher Steele, a British spy, to do any of this work. When the Clinton campaign hired Fusion GPS after Trump won, Steele was hired and worked with Russian officials to come up the infamous and salacious dossier.

Keep in mind the Clinton campaign and DNC officials have denied paying for the dossier for nearly a year, but were forced into an admission after a subpoena from House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes revealed both entities had in fact employed Fusion GPS to create the dossier.

Finally, Noah’s question followed the now well-established talking point that Fusion GPS’s is merely an “opposition research” firm.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

A genuine opposition research firm digs up dirt on political opponents, relays it to their client, and leaves it up to the client’s communications people to figure out how to get media attention and coverage.

The scope of Fusion GPS’s work is far broader. The firm is best described as a collection of “communications operatives.”

What do communications operatives do? Several things, all of which have applied at various times to Fusion GPS.

One important element, as a left-leaning Tablet Magazine analysis described it in July, is “Manufactured News For Hire,” a by-product of the financial hollowing-out of long-established media outlets:

(Firms) like Fusion GPS became the news-rooms—with investigative teams and foreign bureaus—that newspapers could no longer afford.

As top reporters themselves, the principals of Fusion GPS knew exactly what their former colleagues needed in order to package and sell stories to their editors and bosses.

… And now … according to an anonymous) journalist. “they’re guns for hire. They were hired to dig up dirt on donors to Mitt Romney’s campaign, they were hired by Planned Parenthood after a video exposing some of the organization’s controversial practices.”

The news media is dead broke. Print advertising is washed up and all the digital advertising that was supposed to replace lost revenue from print ads and subscribers has been swallowed up by Facebook and Google. But the good news is that people will still pay for stories, and it’s an awful lot easier to bill one customer than invoicing the 1,500 readers of your blog. The top customers for these stories are political operations.

There is no accurate accounting of how many of the stories you read in the news are the fruit of opposition research, because no journalist wants to admit how many of their top “sources” are just information packagers—which is why the blinding success of Fusion GPS is the least-covered media story in America right now. There’s plenty of oppo research on the right, but most of it comes from the left. … Most journalists lean to the left, and so do the majority of career officials who staff the federal government. There are more sounding boards on the left, and more sources. It’s not ideological, it’s business.

Fusion doesn’t just hand over what it finds to its clients. It actively works to place stories with reporters desperate for scoops they’ll never find on their own. Their related dispatches almost invariably claim that their stories came from anonymous sources.

But the scope of Fusion GPS’s work is not limited to story placement, as a July item by Mollie Hemingway detailed at TheFederalist.com. It’s also about killing stories clients won’t like, or discrediting them and their authors if they appear (links are in original):

… Thor Halvorssen is the head of Human Rights Foundation, which focuses on defense of political rights in authoritarian countries. Halvorssen’s (congressional) testimony alleges that Fusion GPS operated a smear campaign against journalists who threatened to expose the laundering of proceeds from faulty Venezuelan electric power plants through American banks in a kickback scheme to pay off Venezuelan officials. It should have been big news, he said.

“Fusion GPS, however, was hired to spike these stories” (by the Venezuelan government — Ed.).

… “Fusion GPS understands how the media operates, how to kill a story, how to manufacture enough doubt to throw off a journalistic investigation, and what it takes for an editor to disqualify a journalist from pursuing a story,” he said.

… Fusion GPS’ methods of going after whistleblowers and journalists included “smear campaigns,” “dossiers containing false information,” and “carefully placed slanderous news items.”

(regarding the Venezuelan corruption) Fusion GPS is a group of highly paid smear experts who function(ed) as an accessory to the crimes committed.”

Daniel Greenfield summarized things in a Friday Front Page Magazine post:

What ties together the debate about Russian collusion, fake news and Fusion GPS is the implosion of the media.

The media markets its investigative journalism chops even as investigative journalism no longer fits into its business model. Companies like Fusion GPS … step into the vacuum by covertly providing them with the core product. Much of the media is really in the business of “story laundering” by rewriting talking points, smears and hit pieces from organizations like Fusion GPS.

The readers get talking points served to them without ever knowing who actually produced them.

The overarching point here is that when a political campaign or a client engages Fusion GPS, it is not merely looking for “opposition research.”

Hillary Clinton outsourced a key component of her campaign’s communications effort to a group of news manipulators and smear merchants. Her campaign concealed that arrangement, and intended to keep it permanently away from public scrutiny, by funneling payments to Fusion GPS through the campaign’s law firm. (In the Venezuelan matter noted above, “Fusion GPS says being paid by a law firm means all paperwork about their work … (was) covered by attorney-client privilege.”)

The very act of hiring Fusion GPS indicates that Hillary Clinton and her campaign intended to smear Donald Trump and his campaign with accusations — even if false — about their involvement or “collusion” with Russia. This determination, apparently shared by the lame-duck Obama administration’s FBI, continued even after she lost the general election a year ago.

Why doesn’t the press expose Fusion GPS’s true nature? As a Wall Street Journal observed on Tuesday, it’s because the firm is “its meal ticket.”

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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