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The Sinister Implication Of That Breitbart Article Everyone Is Mocking

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The Sinister Implication Of That Breitbart Article Everyone Is Mocking

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Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

In an article published this afternoon, Breitbart.com Washington political editor Matt Boyle criticizes a New York Times reporter for “soliciting government employees to become leakers” under the hysterical headline “Exclusive — Deep state teams with fake news: Email evidence proves New York Times soliciting anti-Trump bureaucracy leakers.” Journalists and media critics — myself included — who understand that that particularactivity is central to reporting were quick to mock Boyle as a fool. And that very well may be the case. But after reading the piece in full, I think there’s something deeper and more sinister afoot.

If you started reading the piece and didn’t make it past the ridiculous headline and lede, I can’t blame you. The “revelation” Boyle claims to have uncovered in an email from Times environment reporter Coral Davenport and John O’Grady, the president of a union that represents Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) workers, appears to be a fairly standard inquiry seeking to confirm critical stories she had heard about EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt with “first-hand or eyewitness accounts” from EPA workers. As a Times spokesperson told the right-wing outlet, Davenport’s “email demonstrates the process of reporting and gathering facts.” It is Breitbart’s effort to turn such run-of-the-mill communications into a scandal that has drawn so much scorn.

But those who made it all the way to the end of Boyle’s sprawling, dramatically overwritten 1,600-plus-word piece found what I think may be the real reason Breitbart published this story. O’Grady forwarded Davenport’s email to nearly three dozen EPA employees, telling them what types of stories Davenport was looking to confirm and to “Please feel free to contact Coral directly.” Boyle published the names of all 34 employees. In so doing, Breitbart is serving as the Trump administration’s pawn, giving it a roadmap it can use to ferret out potential leakers.

President Donald Trump has spent much of his first 200 days in office working himself into a lather about leaks to the press from the White House. Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened to prosecute those who leak classified information and even to subpoena reporters who publish those leaks, after receiving a steady stream of criticism from the president demanding such investigations. During his brief tenure as White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci promised to fire White House leakers.

But leaks have also bedeviled the EPA since Pruitt, a climate change denier and close ally of the fossil fuel industry, took the helm. It’s likely no coincidence that Breitbart’s article comes the day after the Timespublished a draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies which “concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now,” contradicting Trump and Pruitt. According to the Times, the report was leaked because scientists fear Trump will bury it.

Political appointees at the EPA now have a list of 34 potential whistleblowers, individuals the head of the EPA’s union thought might be willing to confirm negative information about the organization’s chief. They will be internally investigated at best, and indiscriminately punished at worst. They may find themselves reassigned off their current projects, or cut out of important meetings and decisions. A Breitbart story posing as an attack on a Times journalist instead functions as a tool to bolster an internal administration mole hunt.

Most journalists would likely view enabling an administration’s anti-leak effort as abhorrent behavior. But not Boyle and his Breitbart crew. Boyle is an administration toady, a longtime Trump sycophant who has always been eager to try to torpedo more critical journalists on Trump’s behalf. Formerly run by Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon, Breitbart is institutionally more interested in protecting the Trump administration from criticism and lashing out at unfavored White House factions than providing legitimate reporting.

Breitbart has regularly cheered on the White House’s efforts to curtail leaks and lashed out at critical leakersand the outlets that publish them. But the latest article takes the right-wing outlets’ typical pro-Trump propaganda to a new level, with Breitbart effectively serving as an arm of the administration, helping its communications team smoke out whistleblowers.

A few weeks ago, Scaramucci and Boyle joked about the Breitbart editor joining the White House communications staff. But no need: Boyle is more than willing to do the administration’s dirty work without being put on its payroll.

Header image by Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

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11 Comments

  1. Dominick Vila August 10, 2017

    This is just one of many examples of how the right wing media is helping the Trump administration. In this case, by making public the names of a large number of civil servants at the EPA. Since Pruitt, and the Trump administration in general, is not sure who is leaking information to the press, they identify large pools of people as suspect, hoping that one among them may be the leaker. With the exception of the classified information being made public, routinely, by Trump most of the information we get falls in the category of incriminating or embarrassing, not classified. For the Narcissist in Chief, any criticism or challenge must be dealt with severely. Only adulation and praise is allowed. If in doubt, ask the Saudi relatives and friends of the 9/11 terrorists who dance with Trump during his visit to the hub of global terrorism.

    Reply
    1. Independent1 August 10, 2017

      And Trump’s not shy in leaking information even to countries not especially friendly to the U.S.; which is a contradiction – he can leak it; no one else is supposed to – according to Trump.

      Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador
      President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian
      foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week,
      according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s
      disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic
      State.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-revealed-highly-classified-information-to-russian-foreign-minister-and-ambassador/2017/05/15/530c172a-3960-11e7-9e48-c4f199710b69_story.html?utm_term=.37389f7e6ccb

      Reply
      1. Dominick Vila August 10, 2017

        He also confirmed nuclear submarine movements and locations near the Korean Peninsula.

        Reply
        1. Louveniajmurray August 12, 2017

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  2. dbtheonly August 10, 2017

    I’m still trying to figure out how the leaks and fake news fit together.

    If it’s a leak, then it’s real, and not fake.
    If it’s fake, then it’s not real, and not a leak.

    And we should still consider the “Leaker-in-Chief” who has blown several classified stories directly to the Russians.

    While I join Dom, in decrying leaks of classified information, I would point out that the one leak for which someone has been arrested, involved proof that the Russians were tampering with the election. Classified information is important, but there are things the American People simply need to know.

    Reply
    1. FireBaron August 10, 2017

      It’s easy. If it’s a leak, anti-Teflon Donnie, and provable, it’s fake news. If it’s a leak, pro-Teflon Donnie, and unprovable, it’s an alternative fact.

      Reply
  3. ORAXX August 10, 2017

    The objective of every tyrant is to control the media, and the flow of information. I have far more trust in the leakers than I will ever have for Donald Trump and the incompetents making up his cabinet.

    Reply
  4. FireBaron August 10, 2017

    Ah, yes. Breitbart. The only news source this administration trusts.

    Reply
    1. Independent1 August 10, 2017

      A news source which publishes articles at their level of human understanding and value; juvenile and depraved.

      Reply
  5. Aaron_of_Portsmouth August 10, 2017

    This current derangement as seen cropping up everywhere, is what happens when trustworthiness, truthfulness, and a concern for the world’s stability are in short supply, or absent altogether. With Trump, Breitbart, FOX, and a host of other Right Wing operatives, we are seeing a wholesale abandoning of the idea that spiritual principles are necessary, and that the practice of such is mandatory for social stability.
    The likes of Bannon are daily behaving as though all sense of reasoning have abandoned him. And Trump is the weak link in this morbid chain of events. Trump is positioned as the best channel for transporting this flow of chaos, and Putin is delighted, as are other despotic state actors.

    Reply
  6. Richard Prescott August 12, 2017

    I saw the Real Time show when Boyle was the first guest. He struck me then as a toady, similar but different form of Bannon and Miller. He tried to come off as fair, but was quickly reduced to the usual. Brietbart News is not news, it is total bull, 5% story, 95% ridiculous extrapolation crap. And the WH has brought Brietbart News into the journalists press briefings group, in the front row. This was done some time ago and the Alarms went up then.

    Reply

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