Douglas Andrews / February 15, 2022

The Media on Spygate: Asleep at the Switch

It’s the scandal of a generation, and the mainstream media are deathly afraid of it.

So. In light of Special Counsel John Durham’s most recent revelations, we now know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the Clinton campaign spied not only on the Trump campaign but also on the Trump presidency.

What else do we know? Plenty. But we can start with this: Spygate really is bigger than Watergate. Oh, the former won’t bring down a president like the latter did, and the special counsel has yet to connect the dots to the Obama administration. But Durham has much more to unravel here, and it’s hard to imagine that he could wrap up an investigation that draws a clear line between the awful corruption of the Clinton campaign and the squeaky cleanliness of the Obama administration. Such a finding simply wouldn’t pass the giggle test.

So we’ll wait. And we’ll wonder: Where on earth is the media? Isn’t there a single member of our Fourth Estate who’s eager for a shot at redemption? The New York Times and The Washington Post, for example, were wrong, wrong, and wrong again concerning the phony story of Russian collusion. Then they collected some Pulitzer Prizes and patted each other on the backs. Then they went back to being reflexively wrong again, unwilling to investigate a story that’s every bit as compelling as the one that made Woodward and Bernstein famous a half-century ago — every bit as compelling, that is, except for one thing: the culpability of the political parties involved.

We could almost see these Trump-hating organs brushing all this off as a political dirty trick — as one campaign trying to out-sleaze the other. All that changed, though, with Durham’s revelation that the Trump campaign had been spied upon, but that may have extended to the Trump administration. The former is a political issue; the latter is a national security issue.

The new name in all this is that of tech executive Rodney Joffe, a Clinton supporter and collaborator whose team, according to Durham’s filing, had access to and performed maintenance on dedicated servers for the “EOP” — the Executive Office of the President of the United States. In addition, Joffe’s team was spying on internet communications from Trump Tower and Donald Trump’s apartment on Central Park West.

As the Wall Street Journal editorial board reports: “White House communications are supposed to be secure, and the notion that any contractor — much less one with ties to a presidential campaign — could access them is alarming enough. The implication that the data was exploited for a political purpose is a scandal that requires investigation under oath.”

You don’t say. As the editors quip, “If you made this up, you’d be laughed out of a Netflix story pitch.”

How can the press be so disinterested in such stunningly banana-republican revelations? For two years, the media disgraced itself by reporting endlessly and breathlessly about the phony Mueller investigation into Trump. And yet on the homepage of today’s New York Times, there’s a story about Russia’s Ukrainian border brinkmanship, a story about the Canadian truckers, a story about Trump’s accounting firm, an opinion piece about how Trump is now “a clear and present danger,” a charming piece about 24 new recipes to “change your kitchen game,” and another about what would happen if we “respected toddlers as whole people.” But nothing, nada, about an American president being spied upon and framed by his political opponents and their government operatives.

Isn’t there a single intrepid scribe out there who wants to know what Barack Obama knew and when he knew it? Who wants to know what Obama’s FBI, his CIA, and his State Department were doing during all this?

“There is something perilously inadequate, at best,” writes National Review’s David Harsanyi, “about political media that can obsess over a comedian’s podcast … but lacks the bandwidth to report on allegations from a special prosecutor that a major political party was involved in spying on private servers of a presidential candidate, and then his administration.”

But Harsanyi’s best observation was his first: “They finally have something potentially worse than Watergate, but this time around they’re content helping Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell, and Colson get away with it.”

(Updated.)

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