It is the job of oppo-researchers and ratf*ckers to exhaust the country's patience through the techniques of scandalization. It is the job of the other candidates to try and take advantage of that. It is not the job of journalism to play along, or to despair of the effects on "us" of their own creations. -- Charles P. Pierce
In a story breathlessly headlined, "Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation as Russians Pressed for Control of Uranium Company," the New York Times has doubled down on the clever insinuations of a masterful piece of right wing Truthiness.
Look: I was a reporter. It's not difficult to (intentionally or unintentionally) construct a story that is filled with facts, but does not actually tell the truth. People do it all the time, and here's a textbook example.
Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (this one) is a multi-agency committee chaired by the US Treasury, not the State Department:
Let's look at all those agencies, shall we?
The Secretary of the Treasury is the Chairperson of CFIUS, and notices to CFIUS are received, processed, and coordinated at the staff level by the Staff Chairperson of CFIUS, who is the Director of the Office of Investment Security in the Department of the Treasury.
The members of CFIUS include the heads of the following departments and offices:
Department of the Treasury (chair)
Department of Justice
Department of Homeland Security
Department of Commerce
Department of Defense
Department of State
Department of Energy
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
Office of Science & Technology Policy
The following offices also observe and, as appropriate, participate in CFIUS’s activities:
Office of Management & Budget
Council of Economic Advisors
National Security Council
National Economic Council
Homeland Security Council
The Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Labor are non-voting, ex-officio members of CFIUS with roles as defined by statute and regulation.
All righty, then! So we're actually living in a Third World banana republic, and the real power, Hillary Clinton, is cleverly camouflaged by her role as Secretary of State. She used her magical powers to force every single one of these agencies to do her nefarious bidding -- and override the security interests of the United States to allow these evil Rooskies to have access to uranium?
You know, the harmless substance used to make nuclear weapons.
And not one of those people ever made a peep. It's a conspiracy! Because Clinton!
Of course, they cover their ass with this:
Whether the donations played any role in the approval of the uranium deal is unknown.
You're goddamned right, it's "unknown."
What really pisses me off about stories like this is, it's so easy to destroy reputations. I was always wary of whether my stories were fair -- so much so, I'd be throwing up the night before they were published. I took that power seriously, goddammit.
This story (and the ones that will surely follow) has no solid evidence. It is nothing but innuendo. The Times has taken a book written by someone who is quite specifically paid to bring down Democrats, and has a long history of distorting and making up facts, and they're using it as a template -- adding no informed context (like the number of agencies who had to sign off on this deal) and no evidence that Hillary Clinton did anything to get this deal passed.
And this is the problem when the public sees the Wall Street bankers go unpunished. It leads to such mistrust of the government that any wild tale, factual or not, seems plausible.
This is why blogs like this are so important during an election cycle. You will not get context from the corporate media. They're no longer impartial bystanders, and this "story" proves it.
P.S. Apparently the Times took the bait because a 2008 story they did implying the same sort of thing with the regional players was already debunked. And if there's anything we know about the Times, it's that they hate admitting they were wrong.
I remember reading that Times story at the time and going, “Wow, that does look bad.” But then I also remember reading this Forbes (yes, Forbes!) debunking of the Times story, which was headlined “Clinton Commits No Foul in Kazakhstan Uranium Deal.” By the time I finished reading that piece (and please, click through and read it so that you are forearmed for the coming Times hit job), I was marveling to myself: Golly, that Times piece looked so awful at the time. But it turns out they just left out some facts, obscured some others, and without being technically inaccurate, managed to convey or imply that something skuzzy happened where it in fact hadn’t. How can a great newspaper do such a thing?