New York Times Editor Dean Baquet Made Poor Eric Lichtblau Write Those Trump-Russia Lies
My goodness, has it been two years already since we started yelling at poor Eric Lichtblau (formerly) of the New York Times, for royally fucking "Investigating Donald Trump, FBI Sees No Clear Link To Russia"? (That link, helpfully, goes to us screaming our faces off at Lichtblau and the Times, not to the Times report itself since it was fucking garbage.) Well, almost, but why wait for the anniversary on November 1, when the New Yorker is here to shovel dirt on New York Times editor Dean Baquet's grave now? Should you use up one of your five New Yorker stories this month to read it? Presumably, yes! Since we're going to ignore all the nerd stuff (NERDS!!!!!!) and mostly contain our excerpts to yelling at Dean Baquet below.
In that steaming pile of New York Times, the Paper of Record had averred that there had been internet traffic between a Trump Organization server and a server at Alfa Bank (that's Moscow), but that the FBI had looked into it and it was probably just spam. This made us yell at the New York Times many many many times, thusly:
As you can see -- again -- your Wonkette is much better at journalism than is the New York Times, and you should give us all your New York Times money instead. (Hit the handy widget at the bottom of this post!) But we MAY have gotten it wrong our own selves in blaming the reporter, Eric Lichtblau, under whose byline appeared a whole load of sniffy, snitty Trump-exoneration seemingly in service only to the New York Times getting beat on a story. Because according to the New Yorker, it wasn't that Lichtblau got scooped by Franklin Foer of Slate on the servers and so decided to haughtily undermine it; it was his boss, Dean Baquet, wie so:
In August, 2016, Max decided to reveal the data that he and his colleagues had assembled. "If the covert communications were real, this potential threat to our country needed to be known before the election," he said. After some discussion, he and his lawyer decided to hand over the findings to Eric Lichtblau, of the Times. Lichtblau met with Max, and began to look at the data. [...]
As Lichtblau talked to experts, he became increasingly convinced that the data suggested a substantive connection. "Not only is there clearly something there but there's clearly something that someone has gone to great lengths to conceal," he told me. Jean Camp, of Indiana University, had also vetted some of the data. "These people who should not be communicating are clearly communicating," she said. In order to encourage discussion among analysts, Camp posted a portion of the raw data on her Web site.
Then the FBI asked to meet with Lichtblau and told him the opposite of "we are clearing Donald Trump of all Russian conspiracy crimes past, present and future." In fact, they told Lichtblau, they were very much investigating, but could he hold off for national security? FAIR.
At the meeting, in late September, 2016, a roomful of officials told Lichtblau that they were looking into potential Russian interference in the election. According to a source who was briefed on the investigation, the Bureau had intelligence from informants suggesting a possible connection between the Trump Organization and Russian banks, but no data. The information from Max's group could be a significant advance. "The F.B.I. was looking for people in the United States who were helping Russia to influence the election," the source said. "It was very important to the Bureau. It was urgent."
HOW WEIRD, considering the New York Times wrote "nah"! In fact, even in its own sorta-culpa a full 18 months after its garbage story, it seems the New York Times LIED. Let's go to the tape!
In the Clinton case, Mr. Comey has said he erred on the side of transparency. But in the face of questions from Congress about the Trump campaign, the F.B.I. declined to tip its hand. And when The New York Times tried to assess the state of the investigation in October 2016, law enforcement officials cautioned against drawing any conclusions, resulting in a story that significantly played down the case.
Except for that time in September, which, factcheck, is before October, when they told your own reporter all about it. But carry on while you still can, Dean Baquet! Back to the New Yorker!
The F.B.I. officials asked Lichtblau to delay publishing his story, saying that releasing the news could jeopardize their investigation. As the story sat, Dean Baquet, the Times' executive editor, decided that it would not suffice to report the existence of computer contacts without knowing their purpose. Lichtblau disagreed, arguing that his story contained important news: that the F.B.I. had opened a counterintelligence investigation into Russian contacts with Trump's aides. "It was a really tense debate," Baquet told me. "If I were the reporter, I would have wanted to run it, too. It felt like there was something there." But, with the election looming, Baquet thought that he could not publish the story without being more confident in its conclusions.
I bet if you put your mind to it, you could think of once or twice when the By God New York Times didn't need to be more sure in its conclusions. You are very, very smart!
But then Jim Comey decided he better make sure nobody released any information in the weeks before an election, because man, that would really be untoward.
Over time, the F.B.I.'s interest in the possibility of an Alfa Bank connection seemed to wane. An agency official told Lichtblau that there could be an innocuous explanation for the computer traffic. Then, on October 30th, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid wrote a letter to James Comey, the director of the F.B.I., charging that the Bureau was withholding information about "close ties and coordination" between the Trump campaign and Russia. "We had a window," Lichtblau said. His story about Alfa Bank ran the next day. But it bore only a modest resemblance to what he had filed. The headline— "INVESTIGATING DONALD TRUMP, F.B.I. SEES NO CLEAR LINK TO RUSSIA"—seemed to exonerate the Trump campaign. And, though the article mentioned the server, it omitted any reference to the computer scientists who had told Lichtblau that the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank might have been communicating. "We were saying that the investigation was basically over—and it was just beginning," Lichtblau told me.
Seems your Wonkette owes the disgraced Lichtblau a full-throated apology. We're sure there's one around here somewhere. Did Dean Baquet continue to Baquet all over the place? Oh, get a load of this fucking asshole:
A week after the Times story appeared, Trump won the election. On Inauguration Day, Liz Spayd, the Times' ombudsman, published a column criticizing the paper's handling of stories related to Trump and Russia, including the Alfa Bank connection. "The Times was too timid in its decisions not to publish the material it had," she wrote. Spayd's article did not sit well with Baquet. "It was a bad column," he told the Washington Post. Spayd argued that Slate had acted correctly by publishing a more aggressive story, which Baquet dismissed as a "fairly ridiculous conclusion." That June, Spayd's job was eliminated, as the paper's publisher said that the position of ombudsman had become outdated in the digital age. When I talked to Baquet recently, he still felt that he had been right to resist discussing the server in greater depth, but he acknowledged that the Times had been too quick to disclaim the possibility of Trump's connections to Russia. "The story was written too knowingly," he said. "The headline was flawed. We didn't know then what we know now."
No, that's not quite right, Dean Baquet. You in fact knew exactly then what you know now -- besides small matters like THE FBI IS STILL INVESTIGATING IT, and the Democrats SURE WOULD LIKE TO BE ABLE TO INVESTIGATE IT, and in fact the guys who had pooh-poohed the server connection as "spam" didn't actually have access to the [technical doohickey] that the [computer nerds] had. But as far as "the FBI has opened a counterintel investigation into Trump and Russia," they told your reporter that themselves.
Frankly, it's starting to sound to us like Moscow has on Baquet the same thing they've got on Lindsey Graham, whatever the fuck that might be.
Eric Lichtblau still wrote that one about the State Department NOT giving diplomatic passports to Clinton Foundation employees, though, where it was like 17 paragraphs of "QUESTIONS RAISED" before answering the question with "oh yeah, Foundation employees asked for passports TO GO FREE NORTH KOREAN HOSTAGES, and also Hillary Clinton said no." So, really, fuck him all the same.
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