Monday, May 24, 2021

UPDATED—What The Hell Is This? The New York Times Gets Around To Calling Out The Steele Dossier....

 ....and the rot at the core of American journalism?

As we wrote on January 13, 2017:

More Just as importantly, after reading the schlocky, amateur, borderline retarded "35 pages" thing, how could anyone ever again justify paying Orbis Business Intelligence actual money for anything they produce?

If some blogger can see through that worthless piece of garbage anybody could, including the pundits and journos who pushed that crap for five years. Which means they just decided to pervert the truth they knew and lie to their readers and clients. 

It's enough to make you think they are nothing but a bunch lying perverts.

Or, as I'm sure they heard in third grade: "Ewwwww"

Update: "From Fusion_GPS: "Barry Meier’s 'Spooked'”"

From the New York Times, May 15:

Secret Sharers: The Hidden Ties Between Private Spies and Journalists
A booming, renegade private intelligence industry is increasingly shaping (and misshaping) the news.

Some journalists are happy to knock on the doors of strangers. I was never one of them, but Christopher Steele, the ex-British spy behind the infamous Trump dossier, left me no choice.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Mr. Steele had been hired by an investigative firm called Fusion GPS to gather dirt about Donald J. Trump and Russia. The firm’s founders, two former Wall Street Journal reporters, made it clear they would not talk to me for a book I was writing about the business of private intelligence. So on an early summer morning in 2019, I arrived at Mr. Steele’s home in Farnham, a picturesque English village.

In photographs, the retired MI6 agent was always dressed impeccably in business suits, his graying hair freshly coifed. When he opened his door, he was wearing plaid boxer shorts and a blue T-shirt and had a serious case of bed head. “I can’t talk today,” he said. “It’s my birthday.”

At the time, those involved with the dossier were intent on controlling its narrative and eager to capitalize on their fame. Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, the founders of Fusion GPS, wrote a book about the dossier that became a best seller. Mr. Steele sold his life rights to a Hollywood studio owned by George Clooney. When a guest at a private dinner party hosted by Vanity Fair asked him for his business card, he thought it was a fan who wanted his autograph, so he picked up his place card and signed it.

Now the glow has faded — from both the dossier and its promoters. Russia, as Mr. Steele asserted, did try to influence the 2016 election. But many of the dossier’s most explosive claims — like a salacious “pee” tape featuring Mr. Trump or a supposed meeting in Prague between Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former attorney, and Russian operatives — have never materialized or have been proved false. The founders of Alfa Bank, a major Russian financial institution, are suing Fusion GPS, claiming the firm libeled them. (Fusion has denied the claims.) Plans for a film based on Mr. Steele’s adventures appear dead.

Beneath the dossier’s journey from media obsession to slush pile lies a broader and more troubling story. Today, private spying has boomed into a renegade, billion-dollar industry, one that is increasingly invading our privacy, profiting from deception and manipulating the news.

Big law firms in New York and London are clamoring for the services of firms like Black Cube, an Israeli company that worked for Harvey Weinstein. Dictators are using private spies as freelance intelligence agents, and off-the-shelf technology is making it easier for them to monitor cellphones and hack emails. Over the past decade, spies for hire have become more emboldened — just as their power to influence events has become more pervasive.

While I was examining the private intelligence business, it became clear that I needed to look at another profession, the one where my career had been spent — journalism. Reporters and private investigators long have had a symbiotic relationship that is hidden from the public. Hired spies feed journalists story tips or documents and use reporters to plant stories benefiting a client without leaving their fingerprints behind.

The information they peddle is often sensational. It can also be impossible to verify or be untrue.
When Mr. Trump, an ex-MI6 agent and two former reporters were thrown into the mix, the ingredients were in place for a media debacle of epic proportions. And in a news business that is fragmented and hyperpartisan, a similar fiasco may lie dead ahead.

‘Congrats on the big P’

The private intelligence business is home to a scattershot of figures — ex-government spies, former law enforcement officials and others. As the newspaper industry has shrunk, a growing number of reporters like Mr. Simpson and Mr. Fritsch have joined their ranks.

The two men, who did not respond to my requests for comment, started Fusion GPS a decade ago. There, they worked for nonprofits, hedge funds and companies they might have investigated during their Wall Street Journal careers.

In 2015, Mr. Fritsch sent an email to a former colleague at the newspaper, congratulating him and others there on winning a Pulitzer Prize for articles that exposed how doctors were draining Medicare.
“First, big congrats on the big P. Has Rupert had you on his yacht yet?” Mr. Fritsch wrote to the colleague, John Carreyrou, referring to the paper’s owner, Rupert Murdoch.

Mr. Fritsch then explained that his firm was examining companies that did blood and other medical tests, and that he was eager to get Mr. Carreyrou’s impression of an industry whistle-blower. “I caught him lying to me about something and just wanted to reach out and get your read of this dude,” Mr. Fritsch wrote, according to copies of the emails reviewed by The New York Times.
As it happened, Mr. Carreyrou had just started investigating Theranos, a high-flying start-up that claimed to have developed a revolutionary blood testing technology.

Once Theranos caught wind of Mr. Carreyrou’s interest, its lawyers hired Fusion GPS. Mr. Fritsch acknowledged in a follow-up email that he was working on the company’s behalf, and he told Mr. Carreyrou that he was urging Theranos to let him interview its founder, Elizabeth Holmes.

But as weeks passed and the reporter pressed to interview Ms. Holmes and another top Theranos executive, with whom she was suspected of having an affair, Mr. Fritsch’s tone turned combative and condescending.

“i think you are playing this a lot harder than it needs to play,” Mr. Fritsch wrote. “i get the tactic and have used it myself but usually only after I had the abu ghraib photos in my hand, so to speak.”

Their exchange quickly ended, and while the Journal reporter continued to investigate Theranos, Mr. Fritsch started a different inquiry — one aimed at Mr. Carreyrou, who would eventually expose flaws in the start-up’s technology and the lengths it went to hide them.

To monitor reporters, Fusion GPS used an outside contractor who submitted open-record requests to government agencies asking for inquiries made by journalists for public documents. In mid-2015, emails show, Mr. Fritsch asked the contractor about ways to frame requests for inquiries by Mr. Carreyrou for Theranos records “so it doesn’t look like we are targeting him specifically?”

“I would like to not mention carreyrou by name,” Mr. Fritsch wrote. “the reason is obvious: if we name him and he sees that, he’ll know who you are working for/with etc.”

When the contractor rejected one proposal about how to disguise their interest, Mr. Fritsch suggested another approach. “to mask it, let’s also include the new york times,” he said....


Speaking of Theranos, the judge in the Theranos fraud trial just ruled the prosecution can introduce details of Elizabeth Holmes' over-the-top lifestyle at her trial. Oh joy.

For more on the private "intelligence" business see:
The Ruthless, Secretive, and Sometimes Seedy World of Hedge Fund Private Investigators
Cambridge Analytica's Vincent Tchenguiz Is Back In the News
ZeroHedge Says To Former MI6 Head: "Hey, Get Off Our Side"
"Mining Billionaire Gets Help From Ex-Spies in Bitter Legal Fight" (VALE)

See also:
"Media That Focus on Scandals and Spread Fake News to Smear Politicians Risk Becoming Like People Who Have a Morbid Fascination with Excrement"--Pope Francis