News and Analysis

CNN: ‘The Credibility Of The’ Steele Dossier ‘Has Significantly Diminished.’ Network Now Has ‘Legitimate Questions’
The CNN logo is seen atop its bureau in Los Angeles, California.
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More than two years after Robert Mueller’s report dispelled the Steele dossier’s allegations of wide-ranging collusion between former President Donald Trump and the Kremlin, CNN has admitted that the Steele dossier may not be as authoritative as its anchors previously had reported.

“[F]ive years later, the credibility of the dossier has significantly diminished,” wrote Marshall Cohen in an article posted on CNN’s website last Thursday.

“Legitimate questions are now being raised about the dossier — how it was used by Democrats as a political weapon against Trump, how it was handled by the FBI and US intelligence agencies, and how it was portrayed in the mainstream media,” belatedly stated the 3,820-word article, titled “The Steele dossier: A reckoning.”

In fact, federal sources shredded the credibility of the dossier years ago. Robert Mueller noted in 2019 that his “investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded in his December 2019 report that the dossier had “zero” corroboration. We now know that as early as December 2016, before Trump took office, Obama administration Assistant Attorney General Bruce Ohr expressed doubts because the report’s primary subsource, Igor Danchenko, lived in Washington, D.C. Danchencko has since been indicted for lying to federal officials about his sources

The CNN report even got facts wrong in its retrospective, falsely claiming that Special Counsel John Durham “hasn’t said in his recent indictments, spanning 66 pages, that the FBI or Mueller ever relied on Steele for anything beyond the [four fraudulently obtained FISA warrants for Trump aide Carter] Page surveillance.”

In fact, page 2 of Durham’s 39-page indictment of Danchenko said that — relying on the fraudulent Steele dossier — FBI agents said that Carter Page was merely one “part of a ‘well-coordinated conspiracy of co-operation’ between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.”

Like much of the legacy media’s about-face on the possible origins of COVID-19 from a Chinese laboratory such as the Wuhan Institute of Virology, CNN and other outlets claim their revised view of the salacious Steele dossier comes due to new revelations; yet in some cases, the underlying facts had been known for years.

For instance, CNN noted that the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign “paid for the research” — a fact, it acknowledges in the next sentence, was known “before the 2016 election,” and which its hosts have cited on the air for nearly five years.

CNN, which joins recent mea culpas from legacy media outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post, has much to apologize for. Marshall Cohen admitted, “After wall-to-wall coverage of the Steele dossier, public opinion was quickly locked in on the question of collusion,” yet he never blames his own network’s years-long feeding frenzy over the now-discredited dossier.

For instance, CNN’s Don Lemon said that “much of the dossier has been corroborated” on November 15, 2017. The network’s Manu Raju reiterated that “some of those [allegations in the dossier] have been corroborated” on December 18, 2017.

CNN’s Alisyn Camerota told Congressman Jim Jordan, “Your intel community has corroborated all of the details in there.”

CNN was far from alone in spreading misinformation about the Steele dossier. After the Mueller report took the wind out of her sails, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow instead summarized a footnote mentioning “a guy Trump actually did know from business connections in the former Soviet Union actually did get in touch with Michael Cohen to tell him to tell Trump that he was stopping the flow of some tapes from Russia.” Maddow said the report left this claim “dangling out there like a thread that’s screaming, ‘Tie me off!’” But Durham’s indictment states that Russian sources deny ever alluding to a Trump “pee tape” or allegations about Trump cavorting with Russian prostitutes during their conversations with Danchenko.

To this day, some in the legacy media continue to uphold the veracity of the Steele dossier and downplay their own role in spreading its contents. MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace said in December 2018 that, “to date, none of” the dossier “has been disproven and whole, big parts of it are holding up.”

This November 12, Wallace said that Danchenko’s indictment only proved that the document was still being “vetted.”

“If you peek over at right-wing media, they are still taking a victory lap and feeling avenged around the dossier being further vetted,” she said. She then asserted that “most people covered it as, sort of, unvetted but something that was out there,” although she admitted that “other people went farther [sic] than that.”

CNN has flubbed its retrospective of the Steele dossier before. In a January 2019 article titled “Revisiting the Trump-Russia dossier: What’s right, wrong and still unclear?” CNN continued to claim that aspects of the Steele dossier had “since been confirmed,” citing events like Michael Flynn’s trip to Russia, which was public knowledge before the Steele dossier was produced. Authorities say Christopher Steele appears to have gathered some items from media reports, paid Danchenko for other information, then further extrapolated his own conclusions from Danchenko’s ill-sourced statements.

Bill Grueskin, a former academic dean at the Columbia Journalism School, wrote in The New York Times that the legacy media’s coverage of the dossier became “complicated because some reporters simply didn’t like or trust Mr. Trump or didn’t want to appear to be on his side.”

The Russian collusion “scandal” consumed the first two years of Donald Trump’s presidency and paralyzed elements of the Republican Party in Congress, denying the president the ability to pass key promises of his 2016 presidential campaign.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  CNN: ‘The Credibility Of The’ Steele Dossier ‘Has Significantly Diminished.’ Network Now Has ‘Legitimate Questions’