It looks like Fox’s conspiracy theory about a “secret society” of anti-Trump FBI agents has fallen apart just two days after it was sprung on the public.
Yesterday, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson visited Special Report, Fox News’ flagship news program, and announced to anchor Bret Baier the possible existence of a “secret society” at the FBI, presumably of Trump saboteurs. From the Fox transcript:
JOHNSON: A secret society, we have an informant that’s talking about a group that was holding secret meetings offsite. There is so much smoke here, there’s so much suspicion.
BAIER: Wait, let’s stop there. A secret society, secret meetings offsite of the Justice Department?
BAIER: And you have an informant saying that?
BAIER: Is there anything more about that?
JOHNSON: No. We have to dig into it. … This is bias, potentially corruption at the highest levels of the FBI.
The night before, Republican Congressmen Trey Gowdy and John Ratcliffe told Fox host Martha MacCallum, on The Story with Martha MacCallum, that one of the texts between FBI agent Peter Strzok and Lisa Page said, “Perhaps this is the first meeting of the secret society.” Fox has been scapegoating Strzok and Page as the poster children for the network’s FBI-demonization campaign. “So, of course I’m going to want to know what secret society [they] are talking about, because [they’re] supposed to be investigating objectively” Gowdy said accusingly.
While it’s pretty obvious to me that no one was referring to an actual secret society, the Trump sycophants on Fox & Friends unquestioningly promoted the conspiracy theory as truth: “They’re talking about a secret society out to get Trump,” cohost Steve Doocy announced yesterday.
[A] Democratic congressional aide … maintained that Republicans’ insinuations that the texts also showed signs of a conspiracy was based on cherry-picking and portrayed as sinister phrases that, in context, were instead tongue-in-cheek banter.
For example, the aide said the reference to a “secret society” the day after the election occurred in an exchange between Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page in which one noted: “Are you even going to give out your calendars? Seems kind of depressing. Maybe it should just be the first meeting of the secret society.”
Another person familiar with that exchange said the team had bought Russia-theme calendars to give out to the agents and analysts investigating Russia’s interference in the election, and in light of the election results, Mr. Strzok was making a dark joke about the gag gifts.
ABC News also obtained a copy of the text in question, though ABC merely asked whether the remark was a jest.
If anyone really thinks FBI agents formed some secret society designed to undermine Trump after he had already won the election - at least partly thanks to the FBI – then I’ve got a tin foil hat to sell you.
Watch Johnson try to suck Baier into the conspiracy theory below, from the January 23, 2018 Special Report.
[I just HAD to get those immortal words from Get Smart’s “Maxwell Smart” (brilliantly played by the late great Don Adams) in]
Johnson’s comical assertions of a secret society are just the logical conclusion following other silly GOP stunts like Devin Nunes running around with a memo he claims the FBI is worse than the KGB but, naturally, won’t share it with anyone but fellow partisans who are working hard to hype it up. It’s a replay of the McCarthy era where a demagogue would wave a blank sheet of paper claiming it was a list of all the commies who had infiltrated our government.
So why are the Republicans so hysterical? They must be getting pretty nervous about the Mueller investigation. Because all of this thickly sliced baloney is meant to derail it.