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Taibbi: Has the Media’s Russiagate Reckoning Finally Begun?

Matt Taibbi is definitely ready for Barry Meier’s new book, “Spooked,” even as many in the MSM aren’t going near it.
Street art by Craig Tinsky, featuring the face of Russiagate special investigator Robert Mueller, posted in a pedestrian walkway along Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C. (Mike Maguire / Flickr)

By SP Staff

Those who waited—and waited—for the political miracle promised by backers of the Russiagate narrative as months turned into years following the 2016 U.S. presidential election might crack open Barry Meier’s new book, “Spooked: The Trump Dossier, Black Cube, and the Rise of Private Spies,” to find out why the breathless prognostications of Rachel Maddow and her peers never quite came to pass. That said, if the past few years are any indication, those inclined to accept elite media talking points on this issue probably aren’t in a big hurry to have their illusions dispelled, even by the likes of Meier, a capable and credentialed reporter whose byline was featured prominently in The New York Times.

For his part, Matt Taibbi is absolutely on board with Meier’s project. “That ‘Spooked’ is an important book can be judged by the nervous reaction to it,” he writes in a review of Meier’s book posted this week to Substack. Taibbi knows of what he speaks, as a prominent journalist whose vigorous questioning of liberal-leaning news outlets’ Russiagate reporting didn’t exactly endear him to the MSNBC set. Here’s more of Taibbi’s take, focusing in this passage on the unholy union between pundits, politicians and oppo-research artist Glenn Simpson, who fired up his Fusion-GPS firm for the cause of creating the infamous Steele dossier :

In a storyline that’s mostly been buried, the Fusion-GPS contract with the Clinton campaign morphed post-election into a new endeavor, the Democracy Integrity Project. As Meier notes, the DIP’s donors included Tom Steyer, Rob Reiner, and George Soros, and in 2017 alone, it pulled in a stunning $7 million. “About half that sum — or $3.3 million — was paid out in fees to a limited liability company linked to Fusion-GPS,” Meier writes, noting that this represented about three times what the company was paid by the Clinton campaign during the election.

In the first years of Trump’s presidency, the DIP acted as an ongoing oppo campaign, sending a daily news summary to reporters and congressional staffers alike, who pushed Trump-Russia themes and talking points to “generate more coverage,” leading to a vicious cycle. Politicians hired oppo merchants, who fed “research” to reporters, whose stories were hyped by more politicians, whose comments were reported on even more, a giant amplification machine with a terminal error built in. With Trump as the target, politicians were all too glad to let reporters go out over their skis factually, and reporters were (mostly) happy to print whatever they could reasonably attribute to a reputable source.

. . . [“Spooked”] uses the Fusion/Steele case to flesh out a serious new structural weakness in the informational arena. In a media world where the demand for content is basically bottomless, and a political atmosphere where the stakes are high enough that factual problems are routinely ignored, a well-enough funded oppo operation can keep even the clumsiest of lies alive on the front pages in perpetuity.

Those with paid subscriptions to “TK News by Matt Taibbi” can read the rest of the review here on Substack. Taibbi’s interview with “Spooked” author Barry Meier is posted here.

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