“REPORTING” IS NOT “AGREEING”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Mar. 6, 2017) — On Monday, The Post & Email noted an article published by Politico featuring an interview between ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in which Stephanopoulos contradicted Sanders’s statement that Trump’s claim that his office was “wiretapped” in October was “discussed in The New York Times, BBC, Fox News and we believe that it should be looked at by the House Intelligence Committee.”
A short video of the exchange is embedded at the top of the article containing one such contradiction, although Politico’s Louis Nelson reported that Stephanopoulos “stopped Sanders five times to correct her over the course of their five-and-a-half minute interview.”
“As he would wind up doing multiple times throughout their interview, Stephanopoulos interjected at that point to tell Sanders that what she had said was incorrect and that none of the media reports to which she referred actually backed up Trump’s accusation. All told, the ‘Good Morning America’ anchor stopped Sanders five times to correct her over the course of their five-and-a-half minute interview,” Nelson wrote.
However, Sanders had not said that the news sources “backed up” Trump’s allegations that Barack Hussein Obama specifically ordered a computer server at Trump Tower to be wiretapped, but only that they reported the story.
Just after Trump issued his tweets early on Saturday morning alleging that his office was wiretapped, many mainstream news outlets reported what he said. Reporting on a subject does not signify agreement with whoever is making a claim, and sound journalism presents two or more points of view on any given subject as soon as they can be obtained.
Later on Saturday, a spokesman for Obama denied that Obama had “ordered” surveillance of Trump Tower. According to the FISA law, the president himself does not make application to the FISA court for approval of a warrant to conduct wiretapping. Rather, the request to conduct wiretapping is normally approved by the attorney general and application made to the court by a member of the intelligence community.
As was reported on Saturday evening on Fox News’s “Watters’ World;” The New York Times on January 19, 2017; on January 11, 2017 by National Review; and on November 7, 2016 by HeatStreet, investigations into several Trump associates’ alleged ties with Russia requiring FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court approval had been ongoing since sometime last year.
The Times article, titled “Intercepted Russian Communications Part of Inquiry Into Trump Associates, reported that “The F.B.I. is leading the investigations, aided by the National Security Agency, the C.I.A. and the Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit. The investigators have accelerated their efforts in recent weeks but have found no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing, the officials said. One official said intelligence reports based on some of the wiretapped communications had been provided to the White House.”
A report from The New York Times on Sunday stated that FBI Director James Comey asked the Justice Department to deny Trump’s claim that Obama was behind the wiretapping. “The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones, senior American officials said on Sunday. Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement,” Times reporters Michael S. Schmidt and Michael D. Shear wrote.
Schmidt also helped to author the January 19 piece.
On March 5, Breitbart reported that “The New York Times has inadvertently attacked the credibility of its own reporting on the Obama Administration’s investigation of Russia and now-President Donald Trump,” referring readers to a tiny editor’s note at the bottom of The Times’s January 19, 2017 article which states, “A version of this article appears in print on January 20, 2017, on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Wiretapped Data Used in Inquiry of Trump Aides.”
To the public’s knowledge, no one has been arrested for any alleged illegal activity in connection with the Trump Tower server or in his or her dealings with the Russian government or others.
On Monday afternoon, The Post & Email contacted Nelson at the email address indicated at the bottom of his article for clarification.