NY Times Goes to Bat for Fusion GPS’s Discredited Dossier, Ignores IG Report Debunking

December 11th, 2019 10:23 PM

New York Times non-fiction book critic Jennifer Szalai emerged as the paper’s latest defender of Fusion GPS, the Democratic opposition-research firm led by former Wall Street Journal reporters Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, the deluded duo responsible for the discredited Russian “dossier” from former British spy Christopher Steele. They’re now trying to shore up their reputation with a book, Crime in Progress, and Szalai helped them along on the front of Wednesday Arts section praising the book.

Szalai had to ignore huge swatches of the just-released report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz discrediting the dossier, which turned out a font of anti-Trump conspiratorial spew, dishonestly used by the FBI to persuade a court to authorize a wiretap of Trump campaign staffer Carter Page.

Szalai selectively cited the report to make her points:

....As old journalism hands, they shouldn’t have been surprised when their diligent research into Donald Trump’s finances slipped into the media stream with barely a ripple, while the raw intelligence memos sent to Fusion by the former MI6 agent Christopher Steele landed like a breaching whale.

Note the passive construction of that sentence highlighted above. As if Fusion GPS had nothing to do with spreading the lurid anecdotes.

In “Crime in Progress,” their new book recounting the genesis and afterlife of the so-called Steele dossier, Simpson and Fritsch said they “played down” the most “salacious” anecdote in the memos -- that the Kremlin may have a videotape of Donald Trump asking prostitutes to urinate on a bed in the Moscow Ritz-Carlton -- in order to emphasize their forensic work in following the money....

Szalai let Steele defend himself, laughably badly, while denying the dossier was a “partisan hit job”:

.... Besides, Steele told investigators, the notion that he might have been biased against Trump was “ridiculous.” If anything, he was “favorably disposed” to the Trump family because of a “friendly” relationship he had with one member, whom ABC News has since identified as President Trump’s daughter Ivanka.

She offered more pathetic excuses, defensively denying the obvious political slant of Fusion GPS:

To head off charges of anti-Trump bias, they stress that their client list includes a number of companies that are big donors to Republican lawmakers.

And it’s not as if they were fans of the Clintons in the lead-up to 2016. Simpson had reported on Chinese contributions to Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign, and later thought the “river of foreign money” that coursed through the Clinton Global Initiative smelled fishy....

To praise Fusion GPS, Szalai has to ignore her paper’s own reporting by Scott Shane, who was scathing in his debunking of the dossier.