September 21, 2018

What are you thinking, New York Times? How is this news? And I mean that in more ways than one.

First of all, how is this news if it is entirely based on anonymous second hand sources? I'm no doctor, but are sources so thin that we are relying on people who (a) weren't there and (b) won't give their names as having read accounts of people who were there? This ain't telephone, and it isn't a child's game, and you're running with it as if it is nailed down hard and fast fact, completely lacking nuance.

Several people described the episodes, insisting on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The people were briefed either on the events themselves or on memos written by F.B.I. officials, including Andrew G. McCabe, then the acting bureau director, that documented Mr. Rosenstein’s actions and comments.

"I wasn't there, but I read what someone who WAS there WROTE about it, and here is how *I* interpret what they wrote about the meeting." You're kidding, right? They didn't even TALK to the people who wrote the accounts to have gotten a sense of what happened? They just looked at the words on the page? Was it right after the meeting happened that they read it? Was it yesterday? Come on, this is sh*tty.

A Justice Department spokeswoman also provided a statement from a person who was present when Mr. Rosenstein proposed wearing a wire. The person, who would not be named, acknowledged the remark but said Mr. Rosenstein made it sarcastically.

Even the DOJ could find a person who was IN the actual meeting, and they said the comment was made sarcastically. But you decide to go with the second-hand anonymous sources over the person who was actually in the meeting, and print the following:

Mr. Rosenstein then raised the idea of wearing a recording device, or “wire,” as he put it, to secretly tape the president when he visited the White House. One participant asked whether Mr. Rosenstein was serious, and he replied animatedly that he was.

If not him, then Mr. McCabe or other F.B.I. officials interviewing with Mr. Trump for the job could perhaps wear a wire or otherwise record the president, Mr. Rosenstein offered. White House officials never checked his phone when he arrived for meetings there, Mr. Rosenstein added, implying it would be easy to secretly record Mr. Trump.

Here is the second way I wonder how this is news. How is it NEWS? As in, new information? Your reporters are trying to paint this as remarkable that the FBI, White House and DOJ were at odds in the early days of the Trump administration, but haven't we known that since, oh, I don't know, the early days of the Trump administration? Why are you blaring the chaotic nature of being taken over by our Trumpian overlords as something surprising and newsworthy at this point in the game? It's just not.

In the end, the idea went nowhere, the officials said. But they called Mr. Rosenstein’s comments an example of how erratically he was behaving while he was taking part in the interviews for a replacement F.B.I. director, considering the appointment of a special counsel and otherwise running the day-to-day operations of the more than 100,000 people at the Justice Department.

Okay, now that was just not necessary. I'd be worried if Rosenstein WASN'T feeling a bit oerwhelmed by what he was looking at in those early days after Comey was fired. And again, you're feeling pretty confident it's a good idea to spread the opinions of these second-hand sources who will not be named? Honestly. It's a terrible look.

Speaking of looking, let's review the week, as summarized by our Managing Editor, Karoli Kuns.

  1. Trump says he will declassify text messages and memos revealing methods and sources
  2. Trump blasts Sessions in an online interview with The Hill, says he has no attorney general
  3. Trump says, welllll, maybe I won't do the release thing anyway.
  4. NYT publishes a thinly sourced hit job on Rosenstein
  5. Gabe Sherman gets the rumor that Bill Shine is rolling out a media strategy for Rosenstein's firing

This, on a parallel track with the meltdown of his SCOTUS nominee.


Can you help us out?

For 18 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.