The days before the release of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act memo alleging a pattern of malfeasance by the FBI and Justice Department in its surveillance of members of the Trump campaign were marked by dread and hysteria in the media, and the New York Times participated.
Thursday’s front page used labeling to distract from the content of the memo’s charges: “The Hard Right Praises Moves By an Ex-Critic,” by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Matthew Rosenberg. That would be Rep. Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who instigated the public release of the information, over the objections of the FBI and Department of Justice.
Representative Devin Nunes once called fellow Republicans “lemmings in suicide vests:”
Now it is Mr. Nunes, Republican of California and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who appears ready to blow things up -- in this case the delicate relationship between American intelligence and law enforcement agencies and the committee that oversees them.
....as a matter of political reality, the memo -- written by Republican staffers for Representative Devin Nunes of California, the House Intelligence Committee chairman -- has everything to do with defending President Trump from Mr. Mueller’s investigation.
Savage tried to paint Republicans as paranoids:
Republicans are pushing the narrative that a cabal of politically biased law enforcement officials set out to sabotage Mr. Trump....Mr. Nunes also has earned a reputation of being a staunch Trump loyalist -- or “Trump’s stooge,” as his hometown newspaper, The Fresno Bee, called him last week....
That Mr. Nunes’s actions undermined his credibility does not mean, however, that law enforcement officials made no mistakes in the highly fraught political environment of the day....
When the memo arrived Friday, the Times dismissed its disturbing findings. The front-page NYTimes.com teaser Friday afternoon had the pro-Democrat talking points teed up:
The memo criticizes information used in an application for a warrant to wiretap Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser, but does not provide all the evidence used in the application.
It falls well short of what some Republicans promised: to cast doubt on the origins of the Russia investigation.
From the text, reported by Adam Goldman, Nicholas Fandos and Charlie Savage:
But the memo falls well short of providing the material promised by some Republicans: namely, that the evidence it contained would cast doubt on the origins of the Russia investigation and possibly undermine the inquiry, which has been taken over by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.
Instead, the document confirms that actions taken by another former Trump foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, were a factor in the opening of the investigation.
“Cabal” made another appearance:
The outlines of the memo were widely detailed in news reports in recent days. Several details from the complete memo show that it reflects a line of attack circulating for weeks in conservative media outlets, which have been amplifying a narrative that the Russia investigation is the illegitimate handiwork of a cabal of senior Justice Department and F.B.I. officials who were biased against President Trump and set out to sabotage him.
Savage provided a supposedly helpful “annotation” Friday that was an excuse to provide the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam B. Schiff, a rebuttal.