MSNBC appears to be running a smear campaign against The Epoch Times, one of their fastest growing competitors. On August 20th the network devoted a large chunk of air-time to a “carefully crafted picture based on false claims”. These claims include that The Epoch Times was created as an outlet to promote the controversial and highly oppressed Chinese spiritual movement “Falun Gong” or “Falun Dafa”.
It does appear to be true that a couple of the founders of The Epoch Times practiced Falun Gong (which is their inherent right as sovereign individuals), it is also true that the persecution and negative propaganda directed at the movement was a motivating factor in creating a truly free press for the Chinese people. The Chinese Communist Party has gone to great lengths to stamp out The Epoch Times. To many, the event of a publication being so targeted is indicative of being close to the mark with their reporting when it comes to political corruption.
Rachel Maddow led the charge with a few familiar strategies, things like biased character assassination, discrediting a target with a cheap, “guilty by association” smear, and painting a cruel and inaccurate picture of Falun Gong practitioners as wacky members of some bizarre cult. The truth is that Falun Gong has helped an incredible amount of people to improve their physical and mental health through Budhist Qigong practices that draw from Taoist traditions. The practice actually seems to encourage love, discipline, and mindfulness. In spite of this, it’s practitioners have endured some of the most harsh and dehumanizing treatment imaginable by the Chinese Government.
NBC, MSNBC, and Rachel Maddow are also equating The Epoch Times’ coverage of “Spygate” in an honest, nonpartisan way to being “Pro-Trump”. An interesting side-note is that MSNBC and Maddow’s coverage of the botched “Russian Collusion” narrative actually caused them to lose viewership to publications like The Epoch Times and other nonpartisan news outlets.
Editor-in-chief for U.S. editions of The Epoch Times Jasper Fakkert recently gave his perspective on the attacks:
Maddow and the NBC reporters dismiss but do not provide a single point of factual rebuttal to our extensive coverage of the actions by Obama-era officials to target the Trump campaign in 2016, which have become known as ‘Spygate.’
Instead, Maddow engages in a description of Spygate that borders on lunacy, saying the scandal is “something about Donald Trump saving America from ‘satanic Democratic pedophiles.’
The reality is that The Epoch Times has become a recognized leader in its coverage of the Spygate scandal. The tireless reporting by our team of reporters based on actual evidence—including court documents, congressional testimony, and interviews—has received wide acclaim from readers across the country and validation from other media outlets, including The New York Times, which has cited our coverage…
Another sloppy (perhaps intentional) slip up was linking the popular Youtube Channel “Edge of Wonder” to The Epoch Times. The hosts Ben Chasteen and Robert Counts are former employee’s at The Epoch Times who have left the publication to create their own show where they could talk about pretty much any taboo subject you can imagine. The hit piece did a sort of slight-of-reporting to make it seem like the Edge of Wonder videos were instead Epoch Times videos, citing some of the more easily condemn-able video titles that Edge of Wonder have put out in an attempt to further discredit the Epoch Times. You’d think that a journalist with the slightest bit of integrity would have taken the small amount of effort required to confirm the accuracy of their reporting, but that does not seem to be the case here.
Before the dust had even settled, The Edge of Wonder YouTube Channel was being dumped on by everyone’s favorite “conspiracy debunker” Mike Rothschild over at the daily dot. The blatant disregard of accuracy and the venomous slander about the channels hosts and the community that supports them being “dark and violent” eclipses even Maddow’s belittling.
The Edge of Wonder folks have made a statement about the rumors
We have heard baseless accusations that Edge of Wonder is mysteriously affiliated with or funded by external entities and production companies such as Universal Communications Network, Inc., The Epoch Times, Falun Gong, and Universal Studios. To be clear, we, Rob and Ben, have not been employed by The Epoch Times since we began Edge of Wonder, and if you actually watch our show, you will hear us mention our previous employment there; the meditation practice being persecuted in China called Falun Gong accepts no money from their followers and therefore does not monetize us; the Universal Communications Network, Inc. only serves as our production company; and neither the Universal Communications Network, Inc. nor Edge of Wonder are affiliated with the company Universal Studios. We are financially and completely independent from all other entities and companies at this time.
-Ben and Rob, EOW
The takeaway here should be that entities like NBC, MSNBC, and the Daily Dot are not necessarily interested in promoting objective truth or fair reporting, they are only interested in the propaganda that serves their board members political and financial agendas. This is discernment 101, deducing what the core motives are behind why and how certain narratives are circulated.
The public was lied to for close to two years by legacy news outlets and public figures with claims there was “evidence” that the Trump administration colluded with Russia. Contrary to their claims, the Mueller report showed there was no evidence that Trump colluded with Russia. The report showed that all those rumors of evidence, all those anonymous sources, all of it was lies.
What’s important to remember is that for these outlets and public figures, facts don’t matter. What matters is how they can twist the facts to keep the public misled and distracted in order to keep their false narratives alive.
During an April 23 White House press briefing, a CNBC reporter asked whether or not Trump is “going to accept Russian help in the 2020 election?”
White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley responded, saying “I don’t understand the question … he’s already denounced multiple times Russian involvement.” He noted the Mueller report shows Russian attempts to interfere were known since 2014, and “Barack Obama did nothing … We now know why. He thought Hillary Clinton would, in fact, win the election.”
Maintaining False Narratives
Questions such as whether or not Trump would “accept Russian help” in the upcoming elections build on the false narrative these legacy outlets have been pushing. They perpetuate false narratives by keeping them alive in the public consciousness.
Yet, by posing a question in a way that assumes something took place, it forced the press secretary to provide comments these outlets could use for new headlines.
Hillary Clinton pulled a similar move the same day, and stated on April 23 her opinion on Trump in the Mueller report that “any other person who had engaged in those acts would certainly have been indicted.”
Keep in mind, that’s the same Hillary Clinton who was let off on the investigations into her use of a private email server to handle classified information. The DOJ under Obama’s Attorney General Loretta Lynch had set an unusually high threshold for prosecuting Clinton, effectively ensuring from the outset that she would not be charged.
Meanwhile, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who serves as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is being accused by ranking member Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) of misleading the public on the Mueller report by falsely claiming that the special counsel intended for Congress to decide whether Trump obstructed justice.
An open letter to Nadler points to the specific questions in the Mueller report, and notes: “The passages are not, in fact, an invitation for Congress to pick up where the Report left off. As you are certainly aware, the legislative branch writes the laws and the executive branch enforces them.”
After providing additional evidence and quotes from Nadler, it states, “Your deliberate misrepresentations to the American public threaten the fundamental separation-of-power doctrine, are dangerous, and need to stop.”
The idea is not to alter the information being released, but instead to alter the context of the information. By altering the context, it changes the conclusions people come to after seeing or reading the information being released.
It’s classic psychological warfare at play, meant to alter the way people interpret information.
The legacy news outlets, driven to maintain the warped perceptions formed by these narratives, will latch onto any incident they can find. The more controversy they can stir up, the more chaotic of a picture they can create—regardless of facts—the more agitated the public becomes, and the less likely they’ll reflect on the information rationally.
We saw this recently when Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) downplayed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks saying that “some people did something.” Trump posted a video on Twitter that showed Omar making her comments alongside footage of the 9/11 attacks. The legacy media reacted by defending Omar and by criticizing Trump of “racism” and “hate.”
Regardless of facts, incidents like these are meant to serve a purpose. The narrative is meant to control public perception and lead it to partisan conclusions, and this can’t work without double standards and half truths.
With this type of reporting, the idea is to give the public an inaccurate picture of events for the sake of “perception management.”
Crisis and Response
Another focus of these tactics is to create a crisis on the ground and in the public consciousness that public leaders can respond to with legislation.
When Michael Wolff wrote his book “Fire and Fury” that attempted to frame the Trump administration as being chaotic, he admitted in his prologue that some sources lied to him, some sources contradicted others, and he used these to settle on “a version of events I believe to be true.”
As Law & Crime noted, Wolff was “accused of including fiction in what’s presented as a non-fiction book, and he admits that not all of his sources were trustworthy, but he doesn’t specify what’s fact true and what’s false.”
Even though it was a piece of fiction, framed as nonfiction, it was used by legacy news outlets and by politicians to frame a new talking point that Trump was “mentally unfit” for office. This led to headlines such as one from The Atlantic on Jan. 12, 2018, “The Psychiatrist Telling Congress Trump Could Be Involuntarily Committed: A Yale professor says she’s telling lawmakers that the president may actually be ‘dangerous.’”
Democrat leaders used this crisis to introduce the “Stable Genius Act” to make Trump take a psychological evaluation. This served the purpose of perpetuating the illusion of chaos and instability; yet quickly backfired when Trump did take a mental evaluation that concluded he was both mentally stable and intelligent—reinforcing his “stable genius” line.
Facing the ongoing flurry of false narratives and chaos operations, overall, Trump has shown an uncanny skill in taking these narratives and turning them to his advantage.
And at the end of the day, Trump has shown a strong ability both to endure and deflect these tactics, expose lies as they occur, not fold or retreat when attacked, point out the double standards, and not hesitate to laugh at the ridiculousness of the claims.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times or the Underground News Wire.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joshua Philipp is an award-winning investigative reporter and a senior editor at The Epoch Times. He is a recognized expert on unrestricted warfare, asymmetrical hybrid warfare, subversion, and historical perspectives on today’s issues. His 10-plus years of research and investigations on the Chinese Communist Party, subversion, and related topics gives him unique insight into the global threat and political landscape.
David Kramer, a longtime associate of the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), revealed in an unsealed deposition that he had contact with at least 14 members of the media regarding the Steele dossier—a collection of 17 memos containing unverified allegations against Donald Trump.
Additionally, Kramer gave a full copy of the unverified dossier to then-Senior Director for Russian Affairs at the National Security Council Celeste Wallander, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), and then-House Speaker Paul Ryan’s chief of staff, Jonathan Burks. Kramer also provided a briefing in early December 2016 on the dossier to both Wallander and Victoria Nuland, then the assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasian Affairs.
Kramer also provided ongoing updates to Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, former MI6 spy and dossier author Christopher Steele, and other members of the media regarding McCain’s meeting with FBI Director James Comey.
Steele had been hired by Simpson on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to produce the so-called Steele dossier on Trump.
Kramer, in his deposition, confirmed that he was BuzzFeed News’ source for the dossier. BuzzFeed published the dossier online in January 2017, resulting in a defamation lawsuit by Aleksej Gubarev, whose company XBT/Webzilla was mentioned in the dossier. The Epoch Times covered the court case in a previous article.
McCain famously denied ever providing a copy of the dossier to BuzzFeed, telling the Daily Caller on Oct. 18, 2017: “I gave it to no one except for the director of the FBI. I don’t know why you’re digging this up now.”
The Washington Post: Tom Hamburger, Rosalind Helderman, Fred Hiatt
The Wall Street Journal: Allan Cullison
Kramer, who doesn’t appear to have spoken with The New York Times, noted that both Simpson and Steele were speaking to the Times directly because “they felt it required investigation by a serious news outlet, and they seemed to have chosen The Times at that point.”
McCain Meets Sir Andrew Wood
Kramer said he was initially approached about the Steele dossier on Nov. 19, 2016, by Sir Andrew Wood, the former British ambassador to Russia, during a meeting at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Kramer knew Wood previously from their mutual expertise on Russia. Notably, Wood may have worked on behalf of Steele’s company, Orbis Business Intelligence; he was referenced in a UK court filing as an associate of Orbis, and Kramer referred to Wood as an adviser to Orbis in his deposition. Wood had been previously briefed on the dossier by Steele in London.
Kramer said that Wood told him that “he was aware of information that he thought I should be aware of and that Senator McCain might be interested in.” McCain, Wood, and Kramer would meet later that afternoon, on Nov. 19, 2016, in a private meeting room at the Halifax conference.
Wood told both Kramer and McCain that “he was aware of this information that had been gathered that raised the possibility of collusion and compromising material on the president-elect. And he explained that he knew the person who gathered the information and felt that the person was of the utmost credibility.”
Kramer ascribed the word “collusion” three times to Wood in his deposition.
Wood also mentioned that there was the possibility of a video “of a sexual nature” that might have “shown the president-elect in a compromising situation.” According to Kramer, Wood said that “if it existed, that it was from a hotel in Moscow when president-elect, before he was president-elect, had been in Moscow.”
No such video was ever uncovered or given to Kramer.
Kramer testified that following the description of the video, “the senator turned to me and asked if I would go to London to meet with what turned out to be Mr. Steele.”
Kramer traveled to London to meet with Steele on Nov. 28, 2016. Kramer reviewed all the memos during his meeting with Steele but wasn’t provided with a physical copy of the dossier.
In response to a question regarding Steele’s sources, Kramer noted that “there was a piece of paper in which the names were there.” Kramer testified that he recognized some of the names on the paper that Steele purported to be his sources:
Q:“Were any of the names people with whom you were already familiar because of your background in Russia?”
The matter of sources was returned to later in Kramer’s deposition, when he indicated that at least one of the names was a “serious, high-level source.”
Q:“You knew some of the names; correct?”
Kramer:“I was familiar with — I was certainly familiar with one of the names and vaguely familiar with the second.”
In regard to the name that Kramer knew, he noted, “If that person was a source, it was a serious high-level source.” Under further questioning, Kramer noted, “Two of the other names also seemed to be serious if they were, in fact, the sources.”
Kramer’s familiarity with the names of Steele’s alleged sources is of some interest. Although the dossier has been largely discredited, the fact that Kramer recognized these alleged sources indicates they were likely fairly well-known names. The identities of these alleged sources haven’t been publicly reported.
Notably, these sources were second- and third-hand, as both Steele and Kramer testified that there was an intermediary between Steele and these sources.
Kramer noted that Steele told him that the information in the dossier “needed to be corroborated and verified.” According to Kramer, Steele said he “did not feel that he was in a position to vouch for everything that was produced in this.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, Kramer said, Steele told him that “he would arrange for Glenn Simpson to get me a copy of the material upon my return to Washington.”
When Kramer returned to Washington, he was provided with a copy of the dossier—which, at that point, consisted of 16 memos—at a meeting with Simpson on Nov. 29, 2016. Kramer also testified that there was another individual, “a male,” present at the meeting.
Interestingly, Kramer testified that Simpson gave him two copies of the dossier, noting that Simpson told him that “one had more things blacked out than the other.” Kramer said, “It wasn’t entirely clear to me why there were two versions of this, so but I took both versions.”
Kramer noted that Simpson, who was aware the dossier was being given to McCain, said the dossier “was a very sensitive document and needed to be handled very carefully.”
Despite that warning, Kramer showed the dossier to a number of journalists and had discussions with at least 14 members of the media, along with some individuals in the U.S. government.
Kramer testified that he gave a physical copy of the dossier to reporters Peter Stone and Greg Gordon of McClatchy; to Fred Hiatt, the editor of the Washington Post editorial page; Allan Cullison of The Wall Street Journal; Bob Little at NPR; Carl Bernstein at CNN; and finally, Ken Bensinger at BuzzFeed. It’s possible that Kramer gave copies to other reporters mentioned as well; his deposition is somewhat vague in respect to differentiating between where Kramer only discussed the dossier and where he gave copies out.
Kramer said that Simpson and Steele were aware of most of these contacts, but that Kramer hadn’t told either of them that he gave the dossier to NPR. He also noted that Steele had been in contact with Bernstein at CNN and that the CNN and BuzzFeed meetings occurred at Steele’s request. Steele told Kramer that he and Bensinger “had been in touch during the FIFA investigation; they got to know each other that way.”
According to Kramer, he didn’t believe that Fusion GPS and Simpson were aware of these two meetings with CNN and BuzzFeed.
Kramer testified that he, McCain, and McCain’s chief of staff, Christopher Brose, met to review the dossier on Nov. 30, 2016. Kramer suggested that McCain “provide a copy of [the dossier] to the director of the FBI and the director of the CIA.” McCain later passed a copy of the dossier to James Comey on Dec. 9, 2016. It isn’t known whether McCain also provided a copy to then-CIA Director John Brennan. Notably, Brennan did attach a two-page summary of the dossier to the intelligence community assessment that he delivered to outgoing President Barack Obama on Jan. 5, 2017.
Kramer said that he wasn’t aware of the content of McCain’s Dec. 9 discussion with Comey, noting that he “did not get any readout from the senator on the meeting, but just that it had happened.”
Kramer did, however, provide updates to both Steele and Simpson regarding the status of McCain’s meeting with Comey, in subsequent discussions with Simpson and Steele:
“It was mostly just to inform him about whether or not the senator had transfer — transmitted the document to the FBI. Both he and Mr. Steele were — I kept them apprised of whether the senator was — where the senator was in terms of his contact with the FBI.”
The implications of this statement are significant. Kramer, a private citizen, was providing updates to a former British spy as to what a sitting senator was saying to the director of the FBI.
Other members of the media also had some awareness of McCain’s intention to meet with Comey. Kramer testified that both Mother Jones reporter David Corn and The Guardian reporter Julian Borger came to meet with him. According to Kramer, “they were mostly interested in Senator McCain and his, whether he had given it to Director Comey or not.”
Meeting With State Department
Several days after McCain, Brose, and Kramer met to discuss the dossier, Kramer said that McCain instructed him to meet with Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasian Affairs, and Russian Affairs Director Celeste Wallander.
The purpose of the meeting was to verify whether the dossier “was being taken seriously.” Both Nuland and Wallander were previously aware of the dossier’s existence, and both officials previously knew Steele, whom “they believed to be credible.” Kramer said he didn’t physically share the dossier with them at this point, but met again with Wallander, a National Security Council member, “around New Years” and “gave her a copy of the document”
Nuland had actually received a copy of the earlier Steele memos back in July 2016.
Steele produced a final memo dated Dec. 13, 2016. According to UK court documents, Kramer, on behalf of McCain, had asked Steele to provide any further intelligence that he had gathered relating to “alleged Russian interference in the US presidential election.” Notably, it appears it was this request from McCain that led Steele to produce his Dec. 13 memo.
Although Kramer didn’t provide a date, he said he received the final Steele memo sometime after “Senator McCain had provided the copy to Director Comey.” We know that Kramer received the final memo prior to Dec. 29—when Kramer met with BuzzFeed’s Bensinger.
BuzzFeed Obtains Dossier
Kramer showed a copy of the dossier to Bensinger on Dec. 29, 2016, during a meeting at the McCain Institute, which, according to Kramer, “was closed for the holidays during that whole week.”
There is apparently some dispute as to how Benzinger obtained physical possession of the dossier. A footnote within the court document notes there is disagreement between Kramer and Bensinger about whether “Kramer gave Bensinger a copy or whether Bensinger took photos of the dossier when Kramer was not looking.”
According to Kramer, he testified that Bensinger “said he wanted to read them, he asked me if he could take photos of them on his—I assume it was an iPhone. I asked him not to. He said he was a slow reader, he wanted to read it. And so I said, you know, I got a phone call to make, and I had to go to the bathroom…” Kramer said that he “left him to read it for 20, 30 minutes.”
Kramer also testified that he gave a final copy of the dossier to two other people in early January 2017—Kinzinger and House Speaker Paul Ryan’s chief of staff Burks. In regard to Kinzinger, Kramer noted, “I felt I could trust him. … I really got to know him at the Halifax meeting. … He strikes me as a very serious and honorable person, and I felt that someone on that side of Congress should be aware.”
By late December, additional members of the media had obtained copies of the dossier.
On this same day, outgoing President Obama held an undisclosed White House meeting to discuss the ICA—and the attached summation of the dossier—with National Security Adviser Susan Rice, FBI Director James Comey, and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. Rice would later send herself an email documenting the meeting.
The following day, a declassified version of the ICAwas publicly released. Comey then met with President-elect Trump to inform him of the dossier.
Comey would only inform Trump of the “salacious” details contained within the dossier. He laterexplained on CNN in an April 2018 interview that he had done so at the request of then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Brennan, “because that was the part that the leaders of the Intelligence Community agreed he needed to be told about.”
Shortly after Comey’s meeting with Trump, both the Trump–Comey meeting and the existence of the dossier were leaked to CNN. The significance of the meeting was material, as Comey noted in a Jan. 7 memo:
“Media like CNN had them and were looking for a news hook. I said it was important that we not give them the excuse to write that the FBI has the material.”
The media had widely dismissed the dossier as unsubstantiated and, therefore, unreportable. It was only after learning that Comey briefed Trump on it that CNN reported on the dossier. The House Intelligence Committee report on Russian election interference confirmed that Clapper personally leaked confirmation of the dossier, along with Comey’s meeting with Trump, to CNN:
“The Committee’s investigation revealed that President-elect Trump was indeed briefed on the contents of the Steele dossier and when questioned by the Committee, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper admitted that he confirmed the existence of the dossier to the media.”
Additionally, the House Intelligence Report shows Clapper appears to have been the direct source for CNN’s Tapper and his Jan. 10 story, which disclosed the existence of the dossier:
“When initially asked about leaks related to the ICA in July 2017, former DNI Clapper flatly denied ‘discuss[ing] the dossier [compiled by Steele] or any other intelligence related to Russia hacking of the 2016 election with journalists.’ Clapper subsequently acknowledged discussing the ‘dossier with CNN journalist Jake Tapper,’ and admitted that he might have spoken with other journalists about the same topic.”
“Clapper’s discussion with Tapper took place in early January 2017, around the time IC leaders briefed President Obama and President-elect Trump, on ‘the Christopher Steele information,’ a two-page summary of which was ‘enclosed in’ the highly-classified version of the ICA.”
The allegations within the dossier were made public, and with reporting of the briefings by intelligence community leaders, instant credibility was given to the dossier’s assertions.
Immediately following the CNN story, BuzzFeed published the Steele dossier, containing highlighted portions made by Kramer, and the Trump–Russia conspiracy was pushed into the mainstream.
Kramer was asked about his reaction when CNN broke the story on the dossier. According to his deposition, Kramer stated, “I believe my words were ‘Holy [expletive].’”
Kramer, who was meeting with The Guardian’s Borger when CNN reported on the dossier, said that he quickly spoke with Steele, who “was shocked.”
The following day, Jan. 11, 2017, Clapper issued a statement condemning the leaks—without revealing the fact that he was the source of the leak.
On Nov. 17, 2016, Clapper submitted his resignation as director of national intelligence; his resignation became effective on Jan. 20, 2017. In August 2017, CNN hired Clapper as its national security analyst.
“As far as I'm concerned, it's a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity.” -Hunter Thompson