Scott talks to Gareth Porter about the New York Times’ continued efforts to bolster the story that Russia both interfered in the 2016 presidential election and continues to do so in the lead up to the 2020 election. This time around, they allege, Russian actors are working on behalf of both President Trump, and also Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary race. Porter reviews some of the reasons why these claims are spurious, and he and Scott rehash a few of the Times’ other great blunders.
Discussed on the show:
- “The New York Times’ Insidious Ongoing Disinformation Campaign on Russia & Elections” (Consortium News)
- “The Plot to Subvert an Election: Unraveling the Russia Story So Far” (The New York Times)
- “Same Goal, Different Playbook: Why Russia Would Support Trump and Sanders” (The New York Times)
- “Pompeo and Netanyahu paved a path to war with Iran, and they’re pushing Trump again” (The Grayzone)
Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist on the national security state, and author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. Follow him on Twitter @GarethPorter and listen to Gareth’s previous appearances on the Scott Horton Show.
This episode of the Scott Horton Show is sponsored by: NoDev NoOps NoIT, by Hussein Badakhchani; The War State, by Mike Swanson; WallStreetWindow.com; Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom; ExpandDesigns.com/Scott; Listen and Think Audio; TheBumperSticker.com; and LibertyStickers.com.
The following is an automatically generated transcript.
Scott Horton 0:10
All right y’all welcome in Scott Horton show. I am the director of the libertarian Institute editorial director of anti war.com, author of the book fool’s errand, time to end the war in Afghanistan. And I’ve recorded more than 5000 interviews going back to 2003, all of which are available at Scott horton.org. You can also sign up to the podcast feed full archive is also email@example.com. Slash Scott Horton show.
All right, you guys on the line I’ve got Gareth, the great
Gareth Porter, of course, investigative historian and journalist author of the perils of dominance about Vietnam manufactured crisis, which is the authoritative source on Iran’s nuclear program and then his little
latest book with john Kiriakou, of course, is the CIA Insiders Guide to the Iran crisis from CIA coup to the brink of war. And he writes regularly for us at anti war.com. And at truth This and truth at and here he is at consortium news.com. The New York Times insidious, ongoing dis information campaign on Russia and the elections. Welcome back to the show. Gareth. How are you sir?
Gareth Porter 1:30
I’m doing well. I hope you’re doing well too. It’s good.
Scott Horton 1:32
I’m hanging in there but appreciate that. Listen up. So here’s the point on going I saw people on Twitter the other day, I quit Twitter But okay, I admit sometimes I troll Aaron ma tangling Greenwald’s feeds because I love those guys. And I saw where someone was attacking Greenwald and saying I can’t believe this guy’s still talking about Russia, like the debunkers were the ones who you know, drag this thing on for three Yours is horrible hoax. And now the real point four years, they’re not done yet. They’re still blaming Russia for intervening in America’s democracy. They’re trying to disrupt our society. Gareth. I read it in an article by, oh, David Sanger in the New York Times. Well, that must not be right then.
Gareth Porter 2:24
That’s that’s a pretty good generalization. I would say yes.
Scott Horton 2:28
Yeah. For people who don’t know, David Sanger, he’s just one click less bad than Michael Gordon. But he is the third worst reporter while no with Walter drain, probably the fourth worst reporter in the history of the New York Times, which is really, really saying something. And he’s made a career out of lying about Iran and their nuclear program. garris made a career out of debunking David Sanger, his lies about Iran and their nuclear program. And now here he is, again, on the Russia beat and again, claiming that the Russians are trying to fix the election for Donald Trump Gareth Hmm.
Gareth Porter 3:06
Yeah, he’s he’s on the warpath. On the Russia gate. Russia elections issue just as he was on on Iran, and equally bad and untruthful in both cases.
Scott Horton 3:19
Alright, so, so, Garrett, there were two big stories that came out in February. The first one was saying they’re trying to rig the election for Trump. Then the second one was saying, well, they’re trying to rig the democratic election for Sanders as a way to help rig the election for Trump. What was the source for that? What was the story
Gareth Porter 3:39
Well, I mean, that one was basically started with the administration’s intelligence, intelligence. briefing for the House Intelligence Committee in February. I think it was February 10, but I’m not sure about that. in that, in that briefing, the woman who is in charge of election security, Shelby Pearson, apparently said something to lead a number of members of the committee to believe that not only well, that, that, that basically, the Russians were already favoring Trump in order to get him elected. And that was obviously a very sensational story which leaked out and created a firestorm politically, of course, because the Republican members pushed back. And then it turned out that there was some indication that Pearson had gone too far she’d overstated the the degree to which there was a conclusion that the Russians were actually trying to get to Be like, shocked that they did clearly did not have any evidence to suggest that and didn’t even really try to suggest it that was merely a an inference and who knows exactly how she put it, but but it was clearly off off the beaten path of truth and and of any thing that would pass the, the test of being accepted by people in the the committee. So, basically the times completely fell for the initial story. They that was of course read aid for them, they loved it, and played it up and then they had to back off. So that was a second story was the result of their backing off of that. And then they they tried to portray it as merely a dueling narratives and Sanger put it within the Intelligence Community which of course, is a very different story from from what the original was. But Sanger was definitely trying to continue to stick with the basics a narrative that the Russians or or, you know, interfering in the election, he’s less concerned about precisely how to formulate it.
Scott Horton 6:20
Right. Now, I’m sorry, because I think I screwed you up there. There’s the Sanders story was in the post by somebody else.
Gareth Porter 6:28
Yeah. Sanders story is in the post, but then, but then Trump, excuse me, but then Sanger basically latched on to that and use that as part of a second. A follow up, which was actually not in the New York Times, itself, but was on the times daily podcast, and in that a podcast called the daily sang are actually suggested that now the Russians are supporting both Trump and Sanders and either one would be okay. And the reason is that they’re both reluctant to intervene in foreign in foreign conflicts. And so that is the official word now from from Sanger about how the Russians are navigating the current political scene. Yeah. Now,
Scott Horton 7:22
I mean, to me, I’m just going, you know, by my impression here, I can’t say I know exactly, for sure. But it seems pretty obvious that this is just a dirty trick by the American intelligence agencies that this doesn’t have anything to do with Russia at all. They’re just trying to get Joe Biden elected.
Gareth Porter 7:41
I don’t know that the intelligence community is trying to get Biden elected specifically, but I do think that they are. They are their natural bent is to believe that the Russians are interfering because that serves all kinds of interests. That that are of concern to the intelligence community and the Pentagon and everybody else who’s in the national security state. I think that’s the fundamental reality that we’re looking at here. Yeah, but beyond that, you know, they, they would like to make sure that nobody gets elected who is going to be soft on Russia, right? I mean, that’s the logical corollary of that, of that interest. So naturally, they’re going to play up anything that would suggest that the Russians favor Trump. And if they can do the same thing for for Sanders, of course, they’re gonna do that as well. So basically, it must be pretty much the same thing. Yeah. Well, yeah, they would prefer by they would they would do anything necessary to put down challengers who are no ad intervention is therefore or not interested in having a new cold. war with Russia and therefore, de facto they favorite but you’re right.
Scott Horton 9:04
Yeah. Well, and that’s, you know clearly
what they absolutely well other than her endorsing Sanders over Hillary last time around. This is clearly what they hate about Tulsi Gabbert more than any other thing is her opposition to the Russia gate narrative and the whole Cold War narrative with Russia and warning about the threat of a nuclear war and absolutely unnecessary nuclear war provoked by the USA.
Gareth Porter 9:31
And so, but of course, I mean, the key players in sort of tagging Tulsi Gabbard, with being a Russian agent are, you know, the corporate wing of the Democratic Party, which is the Democratic Party’s leadership, obviously,
Scott Horton 9:45
Gareth Porter 9:46
So, I mean, I think that, that that plays a far greater role than the intelligence community in that saga of
Scott Horton 9:53
I guess I just don’t see where the line is between the democrats and the CIA. You know, I guess there must be one somewhere.
Gareth Porter 10:01
there is a line, of course, but they are in bed together, no doubt about it
Scott Horton 10:04
well, and especially on this entire Russia narrative, it serves both of their interests so well to try to push this thing. And one of the things that was funny about it, especially watching the TV news talk about it was, well, obviously Vladimir Putin knows exactly what we know, which is that Biden is by far the stronger candidate against Trump in the fall, and that’s why they’re supporting Sanders because nobody likes Bernie Sanders, and there’s no chance that he could possibly be trumped. So That must be why they’re supporting him. And that must also be Putin’s reasoning, of course, to do this,
Gareth Porter 10:39
and they just right.
Scott Horton 10:40
They can extrapolate all dang day about it after that, you know?
Gareth Porter 10:44
Yeah, but even the times, even David Sanger realized that that line is extremely weak and he actually acknowledged that and this he actually acknowledged as I recall in the in the times of That it’s it’s so early in the process that the Russians would not have, they would not be in a position to talk about who they wanted to support. And and that was an admission that all the stuff that the times was publishing, about Russian interference in the election. You know, that that would have talked about favoring one candidate or not another has to be both.
Scott Horton 11:30
Yeah, I mean, it’s a little bit inconsistent that Putin is this mad genius who rules the whole world and also, he says, dumb as a damned Democrat. And he thinks that based on the success of Al Gore and John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, that he really ought to support the centrist
Gareth Porter 11:50
you know, well, yeah, that would that argument would be would be perhaps the most difficult one of all
Scott Horton 11:57
I guess I finished that wrong. Not that he has support the center’s that. Now he would conclude that the centrist is the strongest candidate. And so therefore, that’s why to support Bernie Sanders, the weaker one, when the only reason Obama won was because he was seen as an outsider, he was posing as a Cousineau, outsider type. And that was plausible enough because he looked like an outsider that that much is for sure. But the middle of the road guys have lost every time in the last generation.
Gareth Porter 12:26
Right? The whole series, the whole series of, of times, stories about the alleged Russian interference in US elections are, are based on one implausible argument after another. I think that’s the fundamental theme here and this in my piece, it’s that it’s the implausibility and of course, the lack of any factual basis for the series of pieces that they’ve run over the last three years that continue to sort of warn them In public that the Russians are coming, right.
Scott Horton 13:02
Well, you know, I think, though, that you’re skipping the most important part here, which is about how America has always been a completely racially harmonious place until the Russians came and invented American racism and strife here.
Gareth Porter 13:18
Right? Yeah, this is this is the latest installment of the New York Times saga of how the Russians are trying to tear us apart in order to get control over us, society and politics. This is this is of course a familiar theme in New York Times coverage, which is that they are exploiting racial division in order to, to to sharpen it and to, if possible, create racial violence that would be just perfect for them. And and, of course, the latest one, the latest installment that they published on Monday. March 10, was called Russia trying to, to basically with the rest of it something about racial disharmony. And and this is, I guess, to my mind, perhaps the most hilarious of all of the pieces that they’ve done, because they tried to suggest that that RT so called Russia today and that in the past, it was a stoking racial disharmony racial division by publishing a story about that video that went viral. After cops were shown by somebody who had had the video on their iPhone, accosting young black, who clearly had done nothing, and was trying to ask, what have I done, what have I done, and all these cops can do? descend on the kid. And we’re beating him off, essentially, or at least hurting him. And for no apparent reason, and this, this video went viral and all the RT he did was to report that fact. And, you know, I read the piece of it wasn’t, wasn’t trying to stoke, you know, violence or anything of the sort, but merely doing the same thing The New York Times did in their own piece that same day. In fact, the Times piece went into greater detail about the theme of racial injustice, with regard to the police in New York, much more than the art than RT did. So clearly, the times was, was stretching, to try to find something that they could use to see just that, that Russia today as a state media of some sort, was stoking racial, racial violence potentially. It was an absurd story, from the
Scott Horton 16:01
Yeah, I mean, I don’t know. It just seems crazy that
Well, I mean, it doesn’t it’s not really supposed to make sense. It’s just supposed to sound impressive for a moment that well, if RT covers something that happens in America. Well, you see, they’re trying to make you upset when it says news and it’s upsetting news.
Gareth Porter 16:23
So now I admit that the that the headline was more about this supposedly Russian support for white supremacy in the United States. That was really the thing that they were they spent most of their ink on, so to speak, was on who support or was on who support is what this was, this was supporting a a, an American, lit now living in Russian living in Russia, married to a Russian woman who has this organization called which was called the bass and who the The Times is suggesting, according to its sources, they they believe that the Russians are supporting this guy, but they have, it turns out if you read carefully, they have absolutely no evidence of that. The only thing that is even related to it is that now the FBI is is is carrying out or is it DHS? I think it’s DHS is carrying out some sort of investigation to see if the Russians are providing support to to this organization or to the individual, but so far they have no, no evidence whatsoever.
Scott Horton 17:40
Yeah. What a news story. Oh, the FBI is investigating to find out if something’s true. Put that on the front page. Right,
Gareth Porter 17:47
exactly. And this this is the modus operandi of the times over and over again. In one story after another that I cover in my in my piece. The headline, you know, announces that the Russians are doing something And then you read the story and you’ll find out well there’s suspected of wanting to do something or they have the capability or they think they have the capability or they’re investigating to see if they’ve done something.
Scott Horton 18:12
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And now So listen, I sort of I started with the most current events here and skip the beginning of your article where you kind of refresh our memory about all the major lies that David Sanger has told as one of the major leaders of the Russia gate hoax in this country since at least 2017. Maybe 16.
Gareth Porter 19:44
Yes, yes. Well, of course, it’s not just Sanger, but he’s a key figure in it. I mean, really,
Scott Horton 19:50
the It’s just that I hate him the most. So I like saying his name a lot, but go ahead. Well, me
Gareth Porter 19:54
too, but but I just want your listeners to know that the entire time Political staff that is the Washington based political writers.
Scott Horton 20:05
Gareth Porter 20:05
are involved in, in writing about this,
Scott Horton 20:08
such as Scott, Shane and Mark mazetti.
Gareth Porter 20:11
Right. And more. I think there are three others as well, who are were a part of this times endeavor. So so it is not just saying here, although he I think he’s the leader of the pack.
Scott Horton 20:24
It’s interesting, because this is probably not relevant at all. But I remember back in the times when it was really all the lies about Iran’s nuclear program, whenever it was broad in Sanger, it would be horrible, but whenever it was mazetti and Sanger, there would always be one paragraph that says, By the way, this whole article is bullshit. Forget it.
Gareth Porter 20:44
Yeah, but then as Edie has become a full full partner in this Russia gate tale, I mean, he’s he’s really deeply implicated, obviously. Yeah, one of the stories of course, was a Shane and was Eddie’s story, which I’m sure you want to get into.
Scott Horton 20:58
I do. Let’s hear it remind us.
Gareth Porter 21:00
we’ll do that. But But first, you know, I want to go back to that February 2017. Story. Yeah. Which was the introduction, basically to the whole Russia gate tale. I mean, it was it was on that date where the New York Times and CNN both public stories that told about how the Russians, well, how the Trump campaign aides were in cahoots with the Russians, because we knew this because there were a number of cases of these campaign aides having meetings with Russians, including Russian intelligence. And, of course, now, we know that the only instances of somebody associated with the Russian campaign having meetings with Russian intelligence was Carter page, and that didn’t happen in 2017 or 2016. It happened a year. Earlier when he was back in the United States, and he was dealing with Russian intelligence, at the same time that he was reporting to the CIA, something that only came out when the report Well, the report finally made it clear that the the FBI or department of justice people knew this, but did not tell the plaza court what they knew so that they could justify the the campaign to basically a plant people to interview Carter page and to listen in on all of his phone conversations and his and intercept his emails.
Scott Horton 22:49
Yeah, so absolutely. Just to reiterate that point for people who missed it, this virtually this whole investigation and there were a couple of fake excuses for starting it, but the main one That got them. The Feisal warrant on page and then therefore one hop two hops and who knows who all they were spying on, based on that face a warrant against page. I don’t know if the IGP ever exactly address that part of it or not. But that, as you said his supposed contacts with they weren’t going off the steel report claiming that he had made a deal to lift American sanctions in exchange for 20% ownership stake of Russia’s biggest state owned oil company, completely most ridiculous ly that anybody ever made up in the world, probably they weren’t going on that they were going on. This guy may have talked to someone who had been in Russian intelligence years ago. Oh, and by the way, he went straight to who his CIA handlers who he worked for. He was an agent, not an officer, but an agent of the CIA. And he went straight to them and said, I think some Russian intelligence people tried to talk to me. Here’s everything. thing you need to know about it. And the CIA told the FBI, this guy’s a patriot, he works for us. And the FBI said, well, we’re gonna pretend not to know that. And we’re gonna launch an investigation of the president for high treason based on this outright lie that we know is an outright lie. And we’re gonna drag it on for three years after that.
Gareth Porter 24:21
Right. And here’s the here’s the thing that, as I pointed out in the story is the real clincher about the dishonesty of the times. I mean, they of course, read the report, they knew what was in the report. But when they when they covered that, they did not admit they did not acknowledge that it included the information that you just talked about, about Carter page and CIA and his intelligence, Russian intelligence contacts, which was, which would of course unmask the fact that that they had gotten the story on wall.
Scott Horton 24:55
All right. We’re almost out of time here, unfortunately. So real quick here. Tell us about very briefly. We got four minutes. So the case this the smear the ridiculous narrative about the internet research agency and the latest developments there because that is huge,
Gareth Porter 25:14
I think. Yes. Well, okay. Just just to briefly go over the the story by Shane and mazetti that I wrote about, soon after it came out,
Scott Horton 25:25
which is linked in this piece to
Gareth Porter 25:27
Yes, right. But but that story basically had, perhaps the most sensational revelation that the Times has ever has ever come out with. I’m joking, of course, that that the internet research agency had succeeded in reaching 127 million Americans, almost as many as they I think they pointed out in the piece as who voted in the 2016 election. Now who could possibly doubt that means that the Russians had succeeded in essentially rolling over, you know, the American electorate and fooling them and getting them to vote for Trump. But But in fact, that was a meaningless statistic. The first of all, because that simply means that one, that that that many people were estimated by, you know, making certain assumptions about retweeting and so forth, may have gotten one or more stories that that came from the internet research agencies in their newest feed in in twit in Facebook. So, that that was much less impressive if you if you view it from that point of view, but the real point is that compared with the number of news feeds that went into the the number of stories that Windows news feeds, of people who had Facebook at that point, it was like a thimble and The notion was a 413 million times less than the number that went into the Facebook feeds during the 2015 to 2017 period, which is the period that they’re talking about.
Scott Horton 27:15
So in other words, I tell huge lie by omission by refusing to compare it to the overall number of posts people are seeing on Facebook and Twitter.
Gareth Porter 27:23
Absolutely. And that figure was obviously available and the times knew it because they incited in another story that they published,
Scott Horton 27:30
right. Okay, so now what happened this week?
Gareth Porter 27:34
Right. What happened was that the Justice Department dropped their case against the internet research agency. Obviously, what was going on was that they, they had been surprised by the fact that the IRA the internet research agency, had decided to essentially contest the the, the Justice Department case against The IRA, the indictment of the IRA, and we’re so
Scott Horton 28:04
in other words, this was supposed to be a really easy trial in absentia, and they had the nerve to show up to defend themselves. And that was a big problem,
Gareth Porter 28:11
that that their claims were going to be contested. The The, the claims about the Russian intelligence people doing all this stuff. And the the Justice Department is not willing to submit to a process that would involve discovery and
Scott Horton 28:32
or cross examination, cross examination, right? Right.
And by the way, I saw people on Twitter on Greenwald’s feed saying, well, but that’s just William Barr doing it and he’s a compromised toady and Greenwald responded. That’s not true. It’s mauler staff that signed on to this.
Gareth Porter 28:48
Of course, yes, absolutely.
Scott Horton 28:49
Very important point there for people wanting to try to hide behind that excuse.
Gareth Porter 28:54
Yeah, I mean, you know, who knows what, what would have come out and, you know, they would argue Obviously, that this would compromise, you know, their secret access to to the highly classified information and how they got and so forth, sources and methods. But in fact, you know, equally likely or more likely involved the potential for exposure to the fact that they didn’t really have the information they were claiming they didn’t really have any reliable information that would allow them to make make those sorts of claims. And and, you know, we now have reason to believe that the inside source that they were relying on was was really not knowledgeable enough to be able to make those sorts of claims. And that’s supported by the fact that he’s now living in where is it McLean or somewhere in in Northern Virginia under his own name, so he can’t be that to that sensitive? Yep.
Scott Horton 29:56
All right. Well, listen, I’m so sorry that we’re out of time, Garrett, but thank you so much. for your time and I beg you people to go and read Garrett the great over here at consortium news.com, The New York Times insidious, ongoing disinformation campaign on Russia and the elections. And let me ask you one more thing real quick. You have a brand new one here at grey zone I just found. Eric sent it to me Pompeyo and Netanyahu paved a path of war with Iran, and they’re pushing Trump again. We’re actually running a story on antiwar.com today, where they were trying to get him to strike Iran this last week over what was going on in Iraq. And Trump refused because he thought it would make him look terrible in the middle of an epidemic and especially Iran is one of the hardest hit people hardest hit countries from the Coronavirus and he told them no, thank God for that. The cool patient wisdom of Donald Trump has prevailed for peace again for now. But my question for you is can we reprint this at anti war calm Please, sir?
Gareth Porter 30:50
Scott Horton 30:52
great. Okay, you’re the best. Thank you so much, Gareth.
Gareth Porter 30:55
Thank you, Scott. As always,
Scott Horton 30:58
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