Media

Media hyperventilating over new Russian hacker story, but it SURE looks like more Fake News

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Image Credit: HypnoArt CCO Public Domain

MSNBC just wet their pants with excitement.

That’s because The Wall Street Journal has come out with an explosive story implying a Republican campaign official with ties to the White House was working with Russian hackers to steal Hillary Clinton’s emails.

According to the story, “GOP operative” and “longtime Republican opposition researcher” Peter W. Smith “reveled he assembled a group of technology experts, lawyers and a Russian-speaking investigator based in Europe” “to obtain emails he believed were stolen from Hillary Clinton’s private server.”

Smith also “implied he was working with retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, at the time a senior adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump,” the story notes.

The story goes on to make it appear he works within the Illinois Republican Party by noting “Emails he wrote about the 2015 contest to fill former House Speaker John Boehner’s seat were stolen from the Illinois Republican Party.”

It’s an explosive story that has top liberals openly accusing Trump of “treason” and popping champagne corks over his imminent impeachment and prison sentence.

“A very big deal: First reported evidence of *actual* attempts at collusion with Russian hackers by Trump allies,” MSNBC’s Chris Hayes smugged.

“Last fall, Republican financier Peter Smith assembled a team of computer experts to contact hackers connected with the Russian government,” tweeted a sweaty Robert Reich.

“Great @WSJ story comes close to suggesting @realDonaldTrump campaign colluded w/ Russians on emails,” oozed Money magazine’s Ian Salisbury.

It’s one of those stories that, for liberals, is too good to be true.

Probably because it largely is not true.

It’s Fake News.

Let’s unpack this.

“GOP operative” and “longtime Republican opposition researcher” Peter W. Smith

CLAIM: That is intentionally worded to make it sound like Smith is a Republican campaign consultant, who is actively working with GOP officials.
TRUTH: Smith was not a political consultant, but an investment banker.  At 81 years old, his only listed political experience in his biography is “former College Republican national chairman,” which would be about 60 years ago.  A list of past National Chairs does not list him.

Smith was, however, a donor to a project in 1992 to investigate Bill Clinton’s alleged misuse of Arkansas State Troopers.  He was also the 25th-biggest donor to a Newt Ginrgrich PAC, a quarter-century ago.  In fact, his last reported political contribution was a relatively measly $500…15 years ago.

He didn’t even donate to Trump.

“said he assembled a group of technology experts, lawyers and a Russian-speaking investigator based in Europe”

CLAIM: The story is intentionally worded to make it sound as though Smith quietly assembled a crack team of hackers, who were actively working to steal Hillary’s emails.
TRUTH: The only thing the story can turn up is Smith asked one guy in Atlanta to go to hacker chat room sites and ask people if any of them had seen Clinton’s emails.  Smith claimed he “assembled a group of technology experts, lawyers and a Russian-speaking investigator based in Europe” to execute the plan.  Smith provided no evidence to back it up, and is based entirely on Smith’s claims to a reporter, which are suspect.  Other than the one person in Atlanta posting in chatrooms, the reporter could produce no names of anyone supposedly on the crack team.

“campaign to obtain emails he believed were stolen from Hillary Clinton’s private server, likely by Russian hackers.”

Despite the implied claims in the story, Smith made no attempt whatsoever to get Clinton’s emails.  The person he tasked with reading hack websites noted “We told all the groups to give them to WikiLeaks.”

So this ” campaign to obtain emails he believed were stolen from Hillary Clinton’s private server” was in reality, one guy going into a chatroom and asking “If anyone’s seen Hillary’s emails, send them Wikileaks.”

“Emails he wrote about the 2015 contest to fill former House Speaker John Boehner’s seat were stolen from the Illinois Republican Party.”

CLAIM: This makes it sound like Smith is employed by, or consults, the Illinois Republican Party, on to-level issues like whom to elect to Congress, whose emails are so important they were targeted by hackers.
TRUTH: The story never describes the content of the emails.  A Chicago Tribune story published at the time of the hack does, however.

They were six emails, mostly forwarded Breitbart articles, suggesting the state party chairman endorse Illinois Congressman Peter Roskam to be the next Speaker of the House.  He didn’t even send them to the correct address.

But kudos to the Journal for making an older gentlemen who forwards random articles to the wrong email address sound like an official Party employee.

“implied he was working with retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, at the time a senior adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump”

CLAIM: That’s the part that has liberals breathing into paper bags.  This makes it appear as though Smith’s actions were known to and approved by top Trump officials
TRUTH: The reporter waits until two paragraphs later to note Smith can produce no evidence whatsoever that Flynn even knows he exists.  Smith claims he was “talking to Michael Flynn,” but later the reporter admits Smith was unable to provide any evidence whatsoever of any correspondence with Flynn and “What role, if any, Mr. Flynn may have played in Mr. Smith’s project is unclear.”

Based on descriptions of Smith’s random emails of conservative figures, Smith may be one of those people who uses the term “talking to” someone to describe “sending unsolicited forwards of website articles.”

I keep referring to Smith in the past tense.

That’s because he’s dead, on account of being 81 years old — which means the Journal published a poorly-sourced, flimsy story from someone who can’t debunk it.

Peter W. Smith seemed like a nice gentleman, but the story is completely disingenuous.

This looks like YET ANOTHER case of the mainstream media exaggerating a story to make Trump look bad, running with it like a football, only to have to later retract or heavily “correct” it.

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