MSNBC's Reid Still Thinks 17 Intel Agencies Backed Russia Election-Meddling Report

With Twitter doubling its character limit to 280 from 140, the establishment press can now cram twice as much fake news into a single tweet.

MSNBC's Joy Reid did exactly that in a Saturday morning tweet by mischaracterizing the scope of the intelligence community's assessment of "Malicious Cyber Activity" relating to the 2016 presidential election, and by falsely claiming that President Trump said that he personally believes Russian President Vladimir Putin's contention that there was no such meddling.

Here is Joyless Joy's tweet (HT Twitchy):


Well, ma'am, "to be clear," it was never "17 agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community." It was three or four, depending on whether one includes the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in addition to the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Security Agency in the report-publishing group.

The New York Times and the Associated Press made that crystal clear in a "correction" and a "clarification," respectively, the outlets issued in late June.

First, the Times, as noted at a related NewsBusters post (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Correction: June 29, 2017

A White House Memo article on Monday about President Trump’s deflections and denials about Russia referred incorrectly to the source of an intelligence assessment that said Russia orchestrated hacking attacks during last year’s presidential election. The assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.

Now, the AP:


At that late-June NewsBusters post, Kristine Marsh noted that the Times was over seven weeks late in posting their respective "correction" and "clarification" (as, obviously, was AP):

Obama appointee, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper contradicted the media’s narrative when he testified May 8, saying only “three” intelligence agencies actually made this assessment, not 17.

Sadly, it's not altogether unreasonable that Reid would still believe the "17 agencies" lie.

That's because the Associated Press, apparently because it issued a "clarification" and not a correction, has failed to revise many other stories carrying the bogus "17 agencies" claim — even when carried in dispatches filed during the period covered by the clarification, and even, in one instance, after the clarification was issued.

The following report dated June 22, which is within the April 6 - June 29 period covered in the clarification, is still present at the AP's main national web site, and still peddles the "17 agencies" myth — twice:


Additionally, a still-available dispatch published on June 30, the day of the AP's clarification and the day after its April 6-June 29 scope, insists that the assessment was made by all 17 agencies:


Beyond that, neither the Times nor the AP have recognized that there was a considerable degree of irregularity in those three agencies' input and their ultimate assessment:

This process drastically differed from the Intelligence Community’s normal procedures.

Hand-picking a handful of analysts from just three intelligence agencies (The other 14 "were kept in the dark." — Ed.) to write such a controversial assessment went against standing rules to vet such analyses throughout the Intelligence Community within its existing structure.  The idea of using hand-picked intelligence analysts selected through some unknown process to write an assessment on such a politically sensitive topic carries a strong stench of politicization.

You don't say?

What can be said is that the Associated Press and the New York Times are utterly disinterested in ensuring that their stories accurately reflect the historical record — and that's before investigating how many subscribers' sites are still carrying AP stories containing the "17 agencies" lie. This doesn't excuse Joy Reid's ignorance, but it may go a long way towards explaining it.

As to Reid's second claim, Trump's most recent statement makes it clear that she is wrong here as well.

Answering a reporter's question to clarify things once and for all — as if he hasn't already — Trump said the following:


PRESIDENT TRUMP: What I said — I'm surprised that there's any conflict on this — what I said there is that I believe he (Putin) believes that, and that's important for somebody to believe. I believe that he feels that he and Russia didn't meddle in the election.

As to whether I believe it or not, I'm with our agencies, especially as currently constituted with their leadership. I believe in our intel agencies, our intelligence agencies. I've worked with them very strongly. There weren't 17, as was previously reported. There were actually four, but they were saying there were 17, there were actually 4.

But as currently led by fine people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies.

In case fever swamp visitors here can't discern the actual meaning of the actual words Trump used, The President said that Putin believes what he's saying. That is not the same as Trump believing it. Additionally, Trump saying that he trusts his current intel leaders isn't the same as saying he trusts the arguably cooked intel with shaky to non-existent evidence produced by people in the previous administration. Remember, that work was done outside of normal channels and was directed by Obama administration officials who were all shown or have been shown to be very dishonest about very important matters:

  • Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who in Senate testimony claimed the NSA was “not wittingly” collecting data on Americans, when they had been for years.
  • Former CIA Director John Brennan, concerning his agency spying on Congress in 2014.
  • Former FBI Director James Comey, who "personally directed the leak to a reporter of a memo he kept regarding that detailed a conversation he had with President Trump").

Longtime left-leaning blogger Ann Althouse observed that Trump's answer was "a lot more nuanced than what you read in the mainstream news reports," as in "Clearly stated nuance. You don't usually get that."

<<< Please support MRC's NewsBusters team with a tax-deductible contribution today. >>>

The press, which thrived on seeing absurd nuances in former President Obama's remarks for eight years, now can't recognize nuance, or for that matter the clear meaning of English words. It's as if they turned off their nuance detectors on January 20, and replaced them with distortion enhancers.

Cross-posted at

Please support NewsBusters today! [a 501(c)(3) non-profit production of the Media Research Center]


Or, book travel through MRC’s Travel Discounts Program! MRC receives a rebate for each booking when you use our special codes.

Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Foreign Policy Russia Double Standards Labeling Trump-Russia probe Twitter Associated Press MSNBC AM Joy New York Times Fake News Joy Reid Ann Althouse Donald Trump Barack Obama