That hoax served as pretext for President Barack Obama's FBI and CIA and others to investigate, and spy upon, the presidential campaign of a rival.
As if by design, the now discredited Trump-Russia story consumed President Donald Trump's White House and our politics for three years. And from the fetid cauldron of lies and spin grew the wholly partisan Democratic impeachment of the president.
The schemes and lies have been publicly exposed in the damning report of Inspector General (and Obama appointee) Michael Horowitz.
Now, U.S. Attorney John Durham is pursuing a criminal investigation. And the presiding judge of the secret FISA court, which gave the Obama FBI the warrants to investigate and spy on the Trump campaign, is publicly demanding answers.
But when will reporters who carried water for this crew of whisperers admit they've been lied to and expose the liars?
Lest you think only conservatives are demanding answers about the media role in the Trump-Russia hoax, think again.
Glenn Greenwald of the Intercept and Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone are not conservatives. They are of the left. And they are pushing for answers.
They note that some news organizations are beginning to question their reporting, but not quickly or loudly enough.
I don't know what the rules of journalism are in Washington. I'm from Chicago.
Washington is too fancy for me. I'd get lost in that modern Versailles, a company town of smooth courtiers and Kemalist bureaucrats who protect the state from the people.
But in Chicago, if an anonymous source lies to you, and that leads to bogus reporting, if you've been used, you have an obligation to your readers, viewers and your craft.
You are obliged to burn them down and expose them for what they are.
The Russia hoax caused great damage to the credibility of institutions essential to a functioning republic, including the FBI, the intelligence services, the presidency, Congress and, yes, even journalism.
Trump is no angel. He's a transactional man, a dealmaker, a man of questionable ethics and disposition. And if there is any time journalism is required to cover and challenge him, it is now. But after three years of over-the-top cheerleading for "The Resistance," and soiling itself in the Russia hoax, does the media have any credibility?
Reporters carried water for now discredited former FBI Director James Comey, and for now discredited U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, who served as the Democratic Inspector Javert of the impeachment, and many others.
So, who lied and who told the truth? Who spun political news stories that were believed as fact and became talking points for partisan jabbering?
And who from the shadows helped throw oil on the tribal fires of our national politics?
Some of the more witless pundits mock all this as mere conspiracy theory. Clearly, they do not read Taibbi and Greenwald. And they did not read the Horowitz report. They might have read the early partisan spin, the stuff mushrooms are fed, but they didn't read the report.
Yet the chief FISA judge read it. She thought it was real enough.
Rosemary Collyer, presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, wants the FBI to come clean about the lies Horowitz found, the lies the FBI told the court that led to search warrants used to spy on Trump and his campaign.
The FISA court is secret, and I don't like secret courts. But people I respect people in the FBI and others who revere the Constitution say FISA is an invaluable tool against foreign spy networks and terrorists who seek to do America harm.
Recently, Judge Collyer issued an order to the FBI to get answers. She called the FBI's actions as revealed by Horowitz to be "antithetical to the heightened duty of candor" that government agents owe the court.
In other words, she called out the lies.
Collyer wrote: "The frequency with which representations made by FBI personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable."
Comey and his deputy Andrew McCabe, a TV pundit on CNN, acted as if they didn't know what happened, and were stunned and dismayed that mistakes were made.
They were shocked, shocked.
They investigated a presidential campaign, but apparently left all the details to low level staffers and mistakes were made.
Really? Is it a mistake for America to believe in unicorns?
As Greenwald wrote in a recent piece in The Intercept, "The revelations of the IG Report are not merely a massive FBI scandal. They are also a massive media scandal, because they reveal that so much of what the U.S. media has authoritatively claimed about all of these matters for more than two years is completely false."
In Washington, journalists attend formal dinners and literally sing and dance in musical skits to amuse the establishment ruling class.
They give themselves awards including Pulitzer Prizes for reporting the Russia-Trump story that have not been, as yet, returned.
They praise themselves and prattle slogans about how democracy dies in darkness.
But it doesn't really die in darkness.
It dies by anonymous whispers, when the whisperers are never called to account, and are allowed to whisper again and again.
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