The difference between Fake News and Unverified News

As some of you know, the Donald, Herr Obergropenführer, President-elect Kumquat, was attacked the other day through Buzzfeed, which published an article claiming that “a dossier, compiled by a person who has claimed to be a former British intelligence official, alleges Russia has compromising information on Trump.”[1]

As Buzzfeed itself acknowledged, the “allegations are unverified,” and the “report contains errors.”

So, this is unverified news.

It was, however, credible enough that the intelligence services of the United States thought it necessary to brief both the outgoing President (Obama) and the incoming President (Kumquat). As well as the top eight leaders of the House and the Senate.[2]

CNN found out about the briefing and thought that was newsworthy enough to go with it.[3]

The Donald, in his restrained way, immediately branded the allegations as “FAKE NEWS,” demonstrating that he does not grasp the difference between the definitions of “fake” and “unverified.”[4]

Fake news is what the Onion produces. And much of it is very clever. Or it’s things like the allegations that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was running a child prostitution ring out of a pizza parlor in Washington D.C., leading some loony-tune to storm the parlor and almost kill someone. Or that Hillary was involved in a conspiracy to murder Vince Foster. That’s fake news.

This is not.

As reported by BuzzFeed, the allegations are, among other things, that there is a dossier, “which is a collection of memos written over a period of months, includes specific, unverified, and potentially unverifiable allegations of contact between Trump aides and Russian operatives, and graphic claims of sexual acts documented by the Russians. The document was prepared for political opponents of Trump by a person who is understood to be a former British intelligence agent.”

The document itself has been uploaded to, and can be read here in full. It’s titled “Company Intelligence Report 2016/080,” and makes among other things, the following allegations:

  • that the Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting Trump for at least 5 years. The aim, endorsed by Putin, has been to encourage divisions in western alliance.
  • that so far TRUMP has declined various sweetener real estate business deals offered him in Russia in order to further the Kremlin’s cultivation of him.
  • that Trump and his inner circle have, however, accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals.
  • that a former top Russian intelligence officer claims FSB has compromised Trump through his activities in Moscow sufficiently to be able to blackmail him. According to several knowledgeable sources, his conduct in Moscow has included perverted sexual acts which have been arranged and monitored by the FSB.
  • that a dossier of compromising material on Hillary Clinton had also been collated by the Russian Intelligence Services over many years and mainly comprised bugged conversations she had on various visits to Russia and intercepted phone calls, but that there was no embarrassing conduct.

Needless to say, this kind of information is very hard to verify. You can’t just call up the Russian secret service and ask them whether they have the good on the Obergropenführer. I don’t know that any of this is true, but the schadenfreude part of me so wants this to be true. I mean, c’mon my friends: you all KNOW that the Russians didn’t just hack into the DNC, you know that they hacked into the RNC as well. And you KNOW that the Russians have Trump’s tax returns. Somebody sure does. And you KNOW that Putin is many steps ahead of Trump – like a chessman playing checkers – and while he may not have known that Trump would run for President, he knew that Trump was a big deal in the United States.

Can you imagine if we get some nice juicy Trump sex tapes at the beginning of his Presidency. Then Kellyanne Conway and give more pathetic interviews about how the Democrats and the left are trying to “delegitimize” the Trump Presidency.

Oh, please let it be true![5]

Unpatriotic of me? Not at all. Trump is the guy who’s been defending Putin all along. And the most patriotic thing that I could wish for is that the Trump Presidency goes up in flames – so richly deserved – and that we make America SAFE again.

Because right now it is not safe.

[1] As reported yesterday in the New York Times, “Seven months ago, a respected former British spy named Christopher Steele won a contract to build a file on Donald J. Trump’s ties to Russia. Last week, the explosive details — unsubstantiated accounts of frolics with prostitutes, real estate deals that were intended as bribes and coordination with Russian intelligence of the hacking of Democrats — were summarized for Mr. Trump in an appendix to a top-secret intelligence report.”

[2] The Times further reported that “James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, issued a statement decrying leaks about the matter and saying of Mr. Steele’s dossier that the intelligence agencies have ‘not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable.’ Mr. Clapper suggested that intelligence officials had nonetheless shared it to give policymakers ‘the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security.’”

[3] The Times also noted that “Remarkably for Washington, many reporters for competing news organizations had the salacious and damning memos, but they did not leak, because their contents could not be confirmed. That changed only this week, after the heads of the C.I.A., the F.B.I. and the National Security Agency added a summary of the memos, along with information gathered from other intelligence sources, to their report on the Russian cyberattack on the election.”

[4] Or more likely, he does understand the difference, but it’s going to be his deliberate strategy, and that of his unscrupulous party, to brand as “fake” all the news that he doesn’t like. At this point, many right wing already believe that fake news is real. They might as well believe that real news is fake, thereby completing the circle.

[5] I recognize the danger, by the way, of it’s not being true. Glen Greenwald wrote an incendiary piece the other day in which he warned all of us on the left of buying into these accusations, and in which he essentially accuses the intelligence community of using “classic cold war tactics” against the Donald because they are (secretly) opposed to him. I don’t know about that, but I do know that if a lot of accusations are made and they turn out not to be true, then it will look like a witch hunt, and the Donald will be partially vindicated even among those of us who are not his partisans.

About a1skeptic

A disturbed citizen and skeptic. I should stop reading the newspaper. Or watching TV. I should turn off NPR and disconnect from the Internet. We’d all be better off.
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