This Durham extravaganza from last week is taking on a life of its own. Briefly, on Friday night RedState picked up on a court filing which it characterized as “shock and awe” and which was anything but, by John Durham. What got filed that night was a conflicts memo, plain and simple, on issues which had already been dealt with legally. But you would never know that from the blow back. Right-wing media clamped onto the Friday filing with its vague yet provocative language as “proof” that Donald Trump had been spied upon both before and after he was president and like a dog with a juicy bone between its teeth, right-wing media will not let go.

So here we are going into phase two, if not week two, of this nothing burger of a story. Both Fox News and Trump went out of their way to illustrate that this was a media conspiracy and coverup due to the fact that none of the major outlets have covered the “story.” So along comes the Grey Lady herself, the paper of record, the New York Times:

Citing this filing, Fox News inaccurately declared that Mr. Durham had said he had evidence that Hillary Clinton’s campaign had paid a technology company to “infiltrate” a White House server. The Washington Examiner claimed that this all meant there had been spying on Mr. Trump’s White House office. And when mainstream publications held back, Mr. Trump and his allies began shaming the news media.

“The press refuses to even mention the major crime that took place,” Mr. Trump said in a statement on Monday. “This in itself is a scandal, the fact that a story so big, so powerful and so important for the future of our nation is getting zero coverage from LameStream, is being talked about all over the world.”

There is no “scandal” except for the one that Trump and Fox News are in the process of manufacturing. As usual, everything is being reduced to black and white terms and the broadest of brush strokes. And that will not help this particular situation because the only way this filing can be understood is as a tiny piece of information, a cog in a larger wheel and context is everything. Right-wing media isn’t interested in context, they’re interested in sensationalism, clicks, views, and ratings, only. So here we are with another shitstorm of hurricane proportions, fraught with inaccuracies.

There were many problems with all this. For one, much of this was not new: The New York Times had reported in October what Mr. Sussmann had told the C.I.A. about data suggesting that Russian-made smartphones, called YotaPhones, had been connecting to networks at Trump Tower and the White House, among other places.

The conservative media also skewed what the filing said. For example, Mr. Durham’s filing never used the word “infiltrate.” And it never claimed that Mr. Joffe’s company was being paid by the Clinton campaign.

Most important, contrary to the reporting, the filing never said the White House data that came under scrutiny was from the Trump era. According to lawyers for David Dagon, a Georgia Institute of Technology data scientist who helped develop the Yota analysis, the data — so-called DNS logs, which are records of when computers or smartphones have prepared to communicate with servers over the internet — came from Barack Obama’s presidency.

What is in bold is the key. That’s the Rosetta stone right there and that is what led to so much of the confusion over the weekend. The activities described go back as far as 2014 and have nothing to do with Trump, but they are being skewed in such a manner that it’s all about Trump — which suits him fine. In the situation in which Trump finds himself today, with the accounting firm dumping him, the J6 Committee closing in on his allies, all the legal machinations of the Manhattan D.A. and the Attorney General’s office, so on and so forth, he welcomes any diversion with open arms.

“What Trump and some news outlets are saying is wrong,” said Jody Westby and Mark Rasch, both lawyers for Mr. Dagon. “The cybersecurity researchers were investigating malware in the White House, not spying on the Trump campaign, and to our knowledge all of the data they used was nonprivate DNS data from before Trump took office.”

Again, this is why there is no story. But you’re not going to see this anywhere on right-wing media. They’re too in love with the creation that they have cobbled together on the operating table in the laboratory and they’re sticking with it. They love their monster.

And never lose sight of the fact for even a minute of how all this came to be in the first place.

Mr. Durham was assigned by the attorney general at the time, William P. Barr, to scour the Russia investigation for wrongdoing in May 2019 as Mr. Trump escalated his claims that he was the victim of a “deep state” conspiracy. But after nearly three years, he has not developed any cases against high-level government officials.

Instead, Mr. Durham has developed two cases against people associated with outside efforts to understand Russia’s election interference that put forward unproven, and sometimes thin or subsequently disproved, suspicions about purported links to Mr. Trump or his campaign.

And so Fox News is right in the middle of it now. They’re like the proverbial pig in shit, they’re just having a grand time.

It’s a battle of information, of truth vs. lies. This is what it’s like in 2022. Up is down, black is white, what’s old is new. It’s not only new, it’s “scandalous” if it rears its head at a time when Donald Trump is desperate for any favorable press he can find.

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  1. Merrick Garland needs to put Durham out of his misery and fire his ass. He was never legally appointed as special counsel. Barr just decreed it. Since Durham doesn’t have the integrity to just admit he’s found nothing, Garland needs to just end this tragicomic waste of taxpayer money. I know the right wing will have a field day, but they’re doing that now. Firing Durham will at least give them something real to whine about.


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