"If they were trying to make this seem like less of a partisan exercise, they're doing a horrendous job of it."
House Republicans gave right-wing media outlets early access to their anti-FBI smear document after its release was authorized by Donald Trump, and they’re already paying a price for it.
Before the memo authored by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) was released to the public, or even the media at large, Fox News and the Washington Examiner were treated to an early look at the factually suspect document.
The selective leaking strategy echoes previous right-wing smear campaigns, including the Republican-led investigations of the Benghazi attack, which were repeatedly handed off to Fox News and other conservative outlets.
Journalists quickly pointed out that releasing the information this way showed that the story over the memo originally fueled by right-wing media innuendo and paranoia is just another disinformation campaign.
NBC’s Chuck Todd pointed out just how badly Republicans had already botched the roll-out of their memo with this strategy.
“The House Republican intel folks are actually making their partisan case look even worse right now,” he said, “because they’re releasing excerpts of a memo already to friendly media outlets, almost trying to build a narrative and control headlines, the early headlines and create this, you know, help feed a feeding frenzy.”
Todd further explained that “it only lessens the impact of the memo itself because the whole thing just smacks of a partisan exercise how they wrote the memo, how they release the memo, and even now, it’s being released to the public, but some people get the memo first, from friendly media outlets.”
Perhaps the most devastating condemnation of all was Todd’s conclusion: “This is what a campaign would do, not somebody who truly, not an entity that cared about the rule of law and trying to be above politics.”
Similarly, The Daily Beast’s Sam Stein wrote, “If you have a bombshell memo that is existential in its exposure of corruption at the highest levels of the FBI then you dont release exclusive excerpts to one (partisan) outlet. You let the details stand on their own.”
By releasing the document through outlets likely to give its contents the most favorable reading, Republicans gave up the game they have been playing.
The FBI and international intelligence agencies, along with Democratic leaders, have been concerned about the release. Republicans, obsessed with defending Trump, continued to push for it.
But they clearly knew the contents would not withstand scrutiny from real journalists. So, they turned to Fox News and their other propaganda allies.
Trump is under investigation by the special counsel and the FBI for his campaign’s activities with Russian operatives during the election. There have been convictions and indictments.
The GOP’s sloppy memo, released to their media allies as part of an anti-FBI smear campaign, does not change a single fact in that equation.