In a Georgia courtroom on Thursday, prosecutors revealed that accused NSA leaker Reality Winner wanted to “burn down the White House,” meet with terrorist leaders in the Middle East, and successfully manipulated media coverage to make herself look like a victim. While Friday’s network morning shows covered the stunning developments, none of the reporters apologized to viewers for advancing false claims from Winner’s parents that their daughter was afraid the Trump administration would “make her disappear.”
On Good Morning America, correspondent Brian Ross reported: “...federal prosecutors said Winner harbored some very dark thoughts. They said FBI agents seized a handwritten note at her home that said, ‘I want to burn down the White House.’” He then went on to detail a monitored jailhouse phone call Winner made to her family: “[She] told her family she would hide her real thoughts by playing the role of a pretty white cute girl who would braid her hair and cry. And prosecutors said she claimed to have actually coached her parents in the phone calls to play the sympathy card, as in this interview with our station WSB.”
However, back on Wednesday, Ross used a clip of that very interview to generate sympathy for the government contractor: “Her parents in Augusta, Georgia, told WSB reporter Nicole Carr, they are distraught.” A soundbite followed of her mother, Billie-Winner Davis, tearfully telling the local reporter: “I’ve seen so many ugly things out there. She doesn’t deserve that and I just want her to be treated fair.”
Ross began that report by touting Winner as “the young woman who took the bold step of sending a top secret document to reporters to prove the Russians were hacking the American election.” Acknowledging that it was “a clear violation of the law,” he feared “her life will never be the same if the U.S. government and the FBI prepare to make an example out of her for leaking.”
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On Friday’s CBS This Morning, correspondent David Begnaud similarly detailed Winner’s deception:
...prosecutors say in recorded jailhouse calls, Winner told her sister she would, quote, play the “pretty, white, cute card”....this was also interesting. She apparently had a phone call with her mother from jail, again, it was recorded, where she allegedly said, “Hey, mom, play the angle that I feared for my life when I got arrested” and then she allegedly said, “If I don't get bail, go nuclear with the press.”
Co-host Gayle King replied: “Wow. David, that is interesting.”
At the top of the same morning show on Wednesday, King breathlessly proclaimed: “CBS News talks with the mother of a 25-year-old government contractor accused of leaking NSA secrets. She said her daughter, that would be Reality Leigh Winner, is scared that they would make her disappear.” In the report that followed, Begnaud allowed Davis to declare unchallenged: “Her words to me were that she was really scared that they would make her disappear.”
While Friday’s NBC Today covered Winner’s threat to “burn down the White House” and “desire to travel to the Middle East to meet Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders,” reporter Gabe Gutierrez amazingly skipped over the fact that he was duped by Winner’s parents during an interview with them aired on Wednesday.
At that time, Davis repeated the claim to the NBC correspondent that her daughter said “she was scared...they were going to make her disappear.” Rather than push back on the incendiary accusation, Gutierrez sympathetically worried: “Are you scared where this goes?”
When news first broke of Winner’s treachery on Tuesday, the network evening newscasts completely ignored her blatant left-wing ranting on social media, instead advancing claims from her family that “she wasn’t highly political.”
The truth of the matter is that the liberal media are so desperate for any leaked information to advance their narrative that Trump stole the 2016 election because of Russian interference that journalists are willing to ignore the treasonous activity of those releasing the classified material.
Here are excerpts of June 9 morning show coverage:
BRIAN ROSS: Until her arrest on espionage charges, 25-year-old Reality Winner was best known as a fitness enthusiast who posted videos online of her exploits.
REALITY WINNER: Yes.
ROSS: But in court Thursday in Augusta, Georgia, federal prosecutors said Winner harbored some very dark thoughts. They said FBI agents seized a handwritten note at her home that said, “I want to burn down the White House.” All this from someone who as a government contractor had access to the country’s most closely guarded secrets at this facility for the NSA, the National Security Agency.
RICHARD CLARKE: Contractors typically have top secret security clearance, but they’re not subject to continuous monitoring by the agency.
ROSS: Prosecutors say Winner told her mother in a phone call, “Mom, I screwed up. They know about the documents.” But told her family she would hide her real thoughts by playing the role of a pretty white cute girl who would braid her hair and cry. And prosecutors said she claimed to have actually coached her parents in the phone calls to play the sympathy card, as in this interview with our station WSB.
GARY DAVIS [WINNER’S STEPFATHER]: She offered up her life for this nation. And to see her treated so vilely is an insult to every person who ever wore a uniform.
CBS This Morning
DAVID BEGNAUD: It is possible that Reality Winner could face more charges and here's part of the reason why. Yesterday, as we were in court, we heard part of the government say that Reality Winner had a conversation with her mom from jail and it was recorded. And in the call, she said, “Mom, I got arrested for those documents,” which led the government to wonder what else does she have that we don't know about?” The government’s lawyers say they are concerned that former Air Force linguist Reality Leigh Winner may have stolen or exposed other state secrets. While Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Solari called Winner “extremely intelligent,” she said the government's evidence against her is downright frightening. The Department of Justice says the NSA contractor has admitted to taking a top intelligence document from her employer which details hacking by the Russian military intelligence.
Inside her Augusta, Georgia home, agents seized computers, four cell phones, and three guns including an AR-15. They also found hand-written notes which allegedly said, “I want to burn the White House down.” Prosecutors now say Winner plugged an external hard drive into a top secret Air Force computer. But authorities don't know where that drive is located. Winner has pleaded not guilty in the Trump administration’s first criminal leak case. Her defense attorney Titus Nichols argues the government is scraping and clawing to build a mountain out of a molehill. But prosecutors say in recorded jailhouse calls, Winner told her sister she would, quote, play the “pretty, white, cute card.” Winner’s mother and father testified on her behalf.
BEGNAUD: Gayle, this was also interesting. She apparently had a phone call with her mother from jail, again, it was recorded, where she allegedly said, “Hey, mom, play the angle that I feared for my life when I got arrested” and then she allegedly said, “If I don't get bail, go nuclear with the press.”
GAYLE KING: Wow. David, that is interesting. And, as always, you tell it very well.
GABE GUTIERREZ: 25-year-old Reality Winner denied bail and led away in shackles. This morning, prosecutors have new questions about whether she may have been planning to reveal more classified information. They say during a recorded phone conversation with her mother in jail, Winner said, “Mom, those documents. I screwed up.” “Documents,” plural. Now federal agents are looking to see whether she may have stolen other classified information, including some on a missing flash drive she inserted into a top secret computer.
Prosecutors have already said Winner admitted to leaking a top secret document to an online news site, revealing Russian intelligence targeted local election officials and a company that provided software for the 2016 election.
BILLIE-JEAN DAVIS [TUESDAY]: I do have a hard time believing it.
GUTIERREZ: Her mother described her as a veteran and a yoga instructor who worked for an NSA contractor at a Georgia military base.
DAVIS: She would not jeopardize anybody’s safety. She would not.
GUTIERREZ: But her mother was in tears as prosecutors said her daughter had no faces. Winner allegedly writing in a notebook, “I want to burn the White House down,” and prosecutors say, showing a desire to travel to the Middle East to meet Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders.
In another phone conversation, they say she told her sister that she would cry in court and play the “pretty white cute” card. Winner pleaded not guilty, and her lawyer says the government is making a mountain out of a mole hill.