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The Press Loves Fusion GPS
Politico fails to disclose that one of our critics works for Fusion.
By The Editorial Board
Oct. 31, 2017 2:46 p.m. ET
One reason so few Americans trust the Washington press corps is its pattern of groupthink that denigrates anyone who breaks from the conventional wisdom. A classic case is the criticism heaped upon these columns after we raised questions last week about special counsel Robert Mueller’s ability to fairly investigate the FBI’s handling of the Christopher Steele dossier.
The Beltway boys have lined up in unison to register their outrage that anyone would dare question Mr. Mueller or Fusion GPS, the oppo research shop that hired Mr. Steele to dig up dirt on Donald Trump in 2016. This is the same herd of independent minds who treated former FBI Director James Comey as St. Jim while he prosecuted people they didn’t like.
We warned when Barack Obama nominated him that Mr. Comey had a history of self-serving prosecutorial decisions. Only after his political interventions damaged Hillary Clinton did the idolators open their eyes to Mr. Comey’s methods. Now the same crowd wants to nominate Mr. Mueller for secular sainthood, but count us out of the protectorate. Mr. Mueller deserves as much scrutiny as anyone else in the governing class—especially given the amount of unchecked power he wields.
Our other sin against media decorum has been asking questions about the role played by Fusion GPS in the 2016 campaign. We learned last week that Democrats financed Fusion, which then paid Mr. Steele to come up with his dossier that included dubious information about Trump-Russia ties. Fusion tried to keep the names of its paymasters secret from Congressional investigators and even fought a subpoena.
One of the dirty little secrets in Washington is that Fusion is a longtime source for journalists, planting political hits that Fusion is paid by third parties to dig up. Now the press corps is defending its meal ticket, often without reporting honestly about Fusion and how it works.
One example is the story by someone named Jason Schwartz in Politico on Monday that attacked us for our Mueller editorial. This media enforcer quoted Neil King, identifying him as a former WSJ editor who slammed our work and said “I don’t know a single WSJ alum who’s not agog at where that edit page is heading.” Perhaps Mr. King is agog because Axios reported in January that he had joined . . . Fusion GPS.
So Politico quotes an employee of Fusion to attack The Wall Street Journal for criticizing Fusion. Even better, Mr. Schwartz didn’t tell his readers that Mr. King has worked for Fusion. Mr. Schwartz also failed to point out that Mr. King’s wife, Shailagh Murray, also a former Journal reporter, worked in the Obama White House. Perhaps Mr. Schwartz understands that this kind of political incestuousness is so routine in Washington that even to mention it would get him drummed out of the club.
The Trump Presidency has been disorienting for many people, as their antipathy causes them to lose sight of basic principles and standards. This includes many in the press corps. If reporters want to know why Donald Trump finds too many willing believers for his false anti-media tirades, they might consider the dishonest reporting of the kind practiced here by Politico.
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