After Memo's Release, AP, Others in Media Push 'Free Beacon Initially Funded Steele' Lie

February 3rd, 2018 8:22 PM

Shortly after the Nunes memo's Friday release, five reporters — three at the Associated Press and one each at MSNBC and CNN, pushed the long-discredited claim that, in the AP's words, "(Christopher) Steele’s opposition research effort was initially funded by the conservative Washington Free Beacon."

On October 27, the Free Beacon, which had engaged Fusion GPS to research several Republican presidential candidates, made its non-involvement with the Steele dossier crystal clear:

The Free Beacon had no knowledge of or connection to the Steele dossier, did not pay for the dossier, and never had contact with, knowledge of, or provided payment for any work performed by Christopher Steele.

Subsequent reporting at several media outlets confirmed the Free Beacon's contentions.

The same day, the New York Times headlined (italics mine) "Conservative Website First Funded Anti-Trump Research by Firm That Later Produced Dossier," and noted in the related report that "an associate said (Free Beacon major donor) Mr. (Paul) Singer had not been aware of the dossier or Mr. Steele’s involvement in Fusion GPS’s research until January (2017) ..."

Again on October 27, Fox News reported that Steele wasn't even hired by Fusion GPS, let alone engaged in investigating Trump, during the Free Beacon's involvement:

... Fusion GPS was retained by Mark Elias, an attorney representing the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign. Fusion GPS hired Steele after the Free Beacon left the project.

This has all been known for over three months. Yet three Washington-based AP reporters — Eric Tucker (Justice Department), Mary Clare Jalonick (Congress) and Chad Day (investigative team) — produced a Friday afternoon dispatch making the false Free Beacon claim.

It then took the AP an unacceptable 20 hours or more to issue its correction. The trio's dispatch containing the Free Beacon lie appeared at this web site at 5:29 p.m. ET Friday. The AP's correction has a Saturday time stamp (also seen here) of 1:10 p.m. ET. The uncorrected version is still present at some AP-subscribing sites.

MSNBC reporter Katy Tur tweeted the lie early Friday afternoon (since deleted), and later corrected herself without apologizing:


The underlying Politifact item to which Tur linked specifically says:

After the Republican primary, Fusion GPS was hired on behalf of Clinton’s campaign. That’s when the firm hired Steele.

Jim Sciutto, CNN's Chief National Security Correspondent, also repeated the lie Friday afternoon, and reacted even more immaturely to getting caught:


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN: Now-former Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe told the House Intelligence Committee that that initial warrant would not have been issued without the Steele dossier, this dossier of information about President Trump compiled by a former British agent initially paid for by Republicans and then by the Democratic National Committee.

Here's Sciutto's non-apology:


Sciutto gave viewers the false impression that the Republican Party funded Fusion GPS's efforts ("Republicans" plural, even though it was one man), and failed to mention that it was the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign which then funded Steele's work.

Cross-posted at