Is the Trump/Russia “Dossier” the Fake News of the Decade?

By William M Briggs Published on January 11, 2017

Fake news or conspiracy theory? Or the most epic troll since Dan Rather was conned into accepting forged documents about George Bush? Or a hilarious amalgam of all three?

All elements of this story are as yet unknown, but what is unfolding has the makings of historical high comedy. Here’s a rundown.

Buzzfeed, a website whose specialty is celebrity tittle-tattle, asinine quizzes such as “Which ‘Pixie Hollow Fairy Are You?“, and get-skinny-quick-by-petting-cats articles, published a document, which they gave the graduated title of dossier, which purported to show how Russia, under the devious and genius scheming of Vladimir Putin, had been grooming and bribing Donald Trump for many years, and blackmailing him by threatening to reveal perverted sexual practices, so that Trump would be induced to enter the US Presidential election, win it by secret dirt supplied by Russian intelligence agents, and so place the once United States of America under the control of a foreign government.

Yes, really.

Even Hollywood would never believe a story like that. But many others did. Like, some allege, virulent Never-Trumper, and legacy Republican political strategist, Rick Wilson, the man who accused Trump supporters (this is, unfortunately, relevant) of being childless single men who masturbate to anime.

That disgusting comment is relevant because after Wilson made it, he became a target of ridicule across the Internet, including at the Wild West site 4Chan, a place were folks delight in trolling, which might be defined as pranking-with-intent. After Buzzfeed revealed their conspiracy theory, and probably because of the conspiracy theory’s reliance on certain perverted sexual acts and because of Wilson’s tie-in with sexual commentary, members on 4chan claimed that they were the authors of the dossier. The claim is that the dossier was fan fiction, and that it was leaked to Wilson who believed it and who then turned it over to the CIA. Wilson denies this. And it isn’t plausible 4chan hoaxed the entire USA intelligence community, but the fracas adds a delightful twist to the story.

A better angle involves Republican Senator John McCain, personal enemy of Trump. McCain was first given a copy of the conspiracy document, which he later handed over to the FBI because, he said, he didn’t “know if it is credible or not.”

How did McCain come into possession of the document in the first place? It is being reported he got it from Christopher Steele, an Ex-British Intelligence Officer, and member of Orbis Intelligence Limited, a company that performs “oppo research,” or opposition research, also known as the art of digging up dirt. Yet if it is true Steele is the author of the conspiracy theory, who paid Steele to create it?

The Wall Street Journal tried tracking down Steele, but they only discovered a colleague who told the paper Steele “would be away for a few days.” The colleague didn’t know where. Perhaps they should search in Phoenix, where Senator McCain has his official residence? Or maybe in a dim bar in Moscow? One wonders if Steele has a 4chan account. Never mind.

Enter CNN. That network presented the conspiracy theory as if it were true, and hinted with all possible strength that the US intelligence community also believed it was true, and that Trump had been briefed by “Intel chiefs” about the damning information Russia had on him.

Only it turns out that Trump was never briefed. Intelligence agencies had the document, which is now known to have been “originally generated as part of opposition research by anti-Trump Republicans and then shopped by Democrats,” but they “planned to show it as an example of disinformation campaigns.”

The tale grows stranger still, because Trump himself claims to have conducted his own “sting operation” to detect leaks from American intelligence agencies, an operation he says was a success, proving somebody was leaking details about his intelligence briefings. This has led to all kinds of rumors about bad feelings between Trump and the intelligence community.

Reacting to CNN and Buzzfeed, Trump said at a news conference Wednesday, “It’s all fake news. It’s all phony stuff. It didn’t happen.” The kicker is that when a CNN reporter tried to ask a question, Trump shot him and CNN down, saying “You are fake news.”

CNN has not given up its visceral hatred of Trump, and has proved willing to broadcast any information that might be damaging to Trump.

It will be recalled that during the election, CNN had given up any pretence of impartiality, openly touting Clinton and denigrating Trump. The network’s bias soon became so blatant that when a CNN crew was spotted, Trump supporters taunted them with cries of “Clinton News Network,” or worse.

Now that Hillary has faded from the scene, CNN has not given up its visceral hatred of Trump, and has proved willing to broadcast any information that might be damaging to Trump, even when that information has less veracity than an out-of-focus photograph which purports to show Bigfoot riding the Loch Ness Monster.

The story isn’t over. The news on why Steele wrote the document, if he wrote it, and why, including who paid him for it, is bound to generate even more fun.

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