Washington Post series about media treatment of the Steele dossier finds that McClatchy newspapers, owners of the Sacramento Bee and Fresno Bee, were major players in dissemination of the Russia hoax involving the 2016 election.
As Julie Kelly explains at American Greatness, Post media critic Eric Wemple “takes McClatchy to task for coverage of an alleged meeting between Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and Kremlin stooges in Prague during the summer of 2016. The trip, cited in the dossier, has been denied by Cohen and refuted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Justice Department’s inspector general.”
McClatchy refused to retract that coverage, and in December 2018 published “Cell signal puts Cohen outside Prague around time of purported Russian meeting,” by Peter Stone and Greg Gordon. McClatchy editors told Wemple they had cited “evidence, not proof,” that Cohen may have made a secret trip to Prague, but Cohen was not their only target.
When California Republican Devin Nunes began to expose the roots of the Russian hoax, McClatchy papers spearheaded a smear campaign against him, as California Globe reported.
On May 23, 2018, McKenzie Mays authored, “A yacht, cocaine, prostitutes: Winery partly owned by Nunes sued after fundraiser event.” On an August 2015 cruise, the article charges, men were “fondling and suckling” sex workers breasts and men “lined the prostitutes up on the deck of the yacht, reviewed out loud and in detail the sexual services performed.”
Nunes’ ties to Alpha Omega made national headlines, Mays explained, “because it was discovered the winery sold wine to Russian clients in 2013. The discovery came amid Nunes’ ongoing involvement in a federal investigation of Russian meddling into the presidential election.”
On August 23, 2018, Rory Appleton authored “Devin Nunes: Farmer? Leader? Traitor? A community struggles to define its congressman,” citing Democrat calls for an ethics investigation of Nunes. In similar style, last December 5 the Fresno Bee editorial board charged, “Devin Nunes’ blind allegiance to Trump is the real danger to the republic.”
As Kelly notes, Nunes is “suing McClatchy for defamation for aiding a Fusion-sourced smear campaign” against him. As it happens, McClatchy is not the only target of the Washington Post’s media critic.
“Wemple aims his harshest remarks at MSNBC host Rachel Maddow,” Kelly explains. She cites Wemple that Maddow “pumped air” into the dossier, giving the impression that it was “a serious piece of investigative research, not the flimflam, quick-twitch game of telephone” of the Horowitz IG report.
Wemple also takes CNN to task for hiring Andrew McCabe but leaves out the Washington Post’s own role in the hoax. Still, Julie Kelly finds the series “a compelling if incomplete account of some of the worst purveyors of dossier boosterism.”
Meanwhile, as Josh Saul reports in Bloomberg News, “The McClatchy Co., the newspaper publisher that’s teetering near bankruptcy, skipped a payment to some of its pensioners.” According to Saul’s January 2 report, “the company faces a mandatory $124 million contribution to its pension plan in 2020.”