Since January, political and media observers have been inundated with a narrative of consensus across the nation’s federal intelligence apparatus regarding a storyline of the Russian government’s Russian hacking in the U.S. election, essentially undermining the legitimacy of President Donald Trump’s administration by framing the president as a benefactor of a political subversion operation directed by a foreign adversary. Proponents of the narrative often frame Trump and his political allies as co-conspirators with the Russian state.
This narrative and storyline are largely built on a declassified report publicly published on January 6, in the Obama administration’s final days. Entitled, “Background to ‘Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections’: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution,” the report was produced by three intelligence bureaucracies. Left-wing and Democrat-aligned news media outlets such as CNN, The New York Times (NYT), and NPR, however, repeatedly and falsely claim the report reflects consensus across the entirety of the federal government’s “seventeen intelligence agencies.”
During a Sunday hearing held by the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime & Terrorism, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made a point to correct the false record made ubiquitous by left-wing and Democrat-aligned news media. He specifically stated that the intelligence report was published by three intelligence bureaucracies, not seventeen.
The January report, jointly produced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Intelligence Council (NSC), drew conclusions from intelligence it claimed was provided by the CIA, FBI, and NSA.
Left-wing and Democrat-aligned news media outlets continue to repeat the false claim that the report was a product of consensus across “all seventeen components of the intelligence community.”
CNN has repeatedly pushed the false claim that “seventeen intelligence agencies” corroborated the narrative. View an example below from a January 4th article composed by four of its reporters, including its two most senior national security correspondents.
The NYT similarly parroted the falsehood of consensus across the nation’s “17 federal intelligence agencies,” incorrectly framing Clapper’s statement as reflective of unanimity of perspective across the federal intelligence apparatus. View an example below from an article published last December making the false claim.
NPR similarly repeated the falsehood in an article originally published on January 5 and subsequently updated; claiming that the joint DNI/NSC report was released by “17 intelligence agencies.” View its false claim below.
In October of last year, PolitiFact published a false “fact-check” of Hillary Clinton’s repetition of the claim to further the narrative of what the NYT has described as “Russian Election Hacking.” View its fraudulent analysis below.
Reuters deployed nuance in order to maintain technical accuracy while echoing the false narrative via innuendo, noting that the DNI “oversees” what it says are the federal government’s “17 intelligence agencies;” view it below.
These news media outlets all present themselves as politically objective and non-partisan in their conduct.
Clapper provided no evidence to corroborate his assessments of an “influence campaign” directed by the Russian state to subvert last year’s presidential election, including claims that the Russian government has illegally obtained email records from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton loyalist John Podesta. Wikileaks, he added, obtained the emails from the Russian government.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Clapper, “directed an influence campaign to erode the faith and confidence of the American people in our presidential election process. … He did so to demean Secretary Clinton [and] sought to advantage Mr. Trump.” No comments were offered by any Democrat or Republican senators regarding efforts to erode Americans’ faith and confidence in the presidential election process driven by left-wing and Democrat-aligned news media. Similarly ignored by all attendant senators were efforts made by left-wing and Democrat-aligned news media outlets to demean Trump and advantage Clinton.
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