“Straight news” correspondent Catherine Herridge abetted Fox’s Operation Collusion Cover-Up by overstating the significance of a report from the Department of Justice Inspector General that criticized former FBI Director James Comey’s handling of memos while she conveniently ignored the evidence of corruption he was preserving.
Let’s not forget Comey was acting as a whistleblower in response to serious Trump wrongdoing
You have to read almost to the end of The Washington Post report to understand just how unimportant Comey’s rule-breaking was, especially in comparison to what the memos documented: Trump trying to pressure the FBI in its Russia investigation by asking for Comey’s “loyalty” and by asking him to let go of the investigation into Michael Flynn:
Comey left three of the seven memos he wrote at the FBI, believing some of them contained classified information, the inspector general wrote. He kept original copies of four in a personal safe at his home and gave copies of those to his attorneys after Trump fired him from the FBI, the inspector general wrote.
Of those memos that he gave to his attorneys, two had classified information — though Comey redacted the material from one of them, the inspector general wrote. The other, the inspector general wrote, had six words the FBI determined to be confidential. The memo shared with [Columbia Law School Professor Daniel] Richman was determined to be “For Official Use Only,” but did not contain classified information, the inspector general wrote.
What were those six “confidential” words? They hardly sound like state secrets. The IG report stated (Page 2, footnote 3), “Four of the six words in Memo 2 that the FBI determined were classified were the names of foreign countries being discussed by the President. As described later in this report, the President referenced the countries when he conveyed his personal views on the relative importance of promptly returning telephone calls from the leadership of the named countries."
Furthermore, as NBC News correspondent Julia Ainsley noted, sharing confidential, not classified, information with a lawyer is exactly “what a lot of whistleblowers do out of Washington.”
Mark Sumner nicely summed up the situation at Daily Kos:
[I]n the mind of Inspector General Michael Horowitz, concerns about the future of the nation and proper administration of the Justice Department did not trump (small T) the FBI’s internal rules over document handling. Which makes this entire report a triumph of upholding the most picayune regulation even in the face of the greatest possible threat.
Fox’s Herridge massaged the facts in order to paint Comey as a criminal (and imply Trump is a victim)
Enter Catherine Herridge, Fox’s “chief intelligence correspondent” who seems to credulously regurgitate every Republican talking point she encounters. She took the triumph of picayune regulation over Trump corruption to a whole new level.
Herridge deliberately put forth the impression that the report had unearthed some big criminality on Comey’s part (spoiler alert: the Trump DOJ has already decided not to prosecute) while not even bothering to mention why Comey thought it important to write memos about Trump misconduct and put them in his personal safe.
Instead, Herridge seized the moment to suggest that Comey had infected the entire FBI: “It’s certainly not every day that the inspector general is tasked with investigating the actions of a former FBI director who really sets the tone at the top of the bureau for 35,000 people,” she said at the outset.
She went on to note that Comey leaked some of the documents “in order to kick start the special counsel investigation.” Yet she didn’t seem to think it worth mentioning why Comey felt the need for a special counsel investigation. She suggested he was being careless or deliberately negligent as she presented his behavior in the most damning way she probably could have gotten away with. For extra Trumper points, she disingenuously likened Comey to Hillary Clinton.
HERRIDGE: Some of those memos contained classified information, so the question before the inspector general was whether he had mishandled classified information. That would have been a violation of 18 USC 793(f) – and just to show how things come full circle, that was the same statute that he investigated Hillary Clinton over for the mishandling of classified information.
She didn’t bother to mention that unlike Clinton's "convenience" claim, Comey had a seriously good reason, even if not permissible under the rules, for storing such material at home - because it was out of Trump's reach. But Herridge implied that Comey's motive was nefarious.
HERRIDGE: The second thing is whether he properly stored these memos. They were FBI government records. He took them outside of the FBI and he held them at his home and then he shared them with a Columbia professor, a Daniel Richman, he was a special government employee, which is a very unusual status for someone. He confirmed to us that it was unpaid. But he was the vehicle, if you will, for the leaking of these memos.
And then, finally, the thing to look for is whether Director Comey was straightforward with investigators about his actions on the memos. There’s something in FBI-speak called “lack of candor.” That means the individual has spun their explanation and not been straightforward with investigators. And I’m going through the records right now and already I see a pretty significant headline.
… In this section, on page 52, there’s a very important headline from the inspector general. When Director Comey testified, he said he felt these memos were his personal recollections of recorded events. But this is an explanation which does not satisfy the inspector general. He states, “Comey’s characterization of the memos as personal records” - this is important – “finds no support in the law and is wholly incompatible with the plain language of the statutes.”
Herridge repeated that last part for incriminating emphasis.
America’s Newsroom co-anchor Sandra Smith interrupted to prompt Herridge to smear Comey in layman’s terms. She noted that Comey had responded on Twitter by saying, “And to all those who’ve spent two years talking about me ‘going to jail’ or being a ‘liar and a leaker’—ask yourselves why you still trust people who gave you bad info for so long, including the president.”
“What does that tell you, Catherine, about the way that James Comey is taking in this report?” Smith “asked.”
“It doesn’t change, if I could say, some of the cold, hard facts of the findings here,” Herridge replied.
Watch the misleading reporting that Fox will surely use to gaslight its viewers into thinking that nothing Comey said or did is trustworthy while the network continues to distract from Trump’s collusion with Russia in plain sight. The clip is below, from the August 29, 2019 America’s Newsroom.
I’ve discussed Catherine Herridge in the past. She’s literally a propagandist – I don’t mean that as some pejorative. For example, she’s been debunked repeatedly on her #Benghazi! reporting and she’s behind the bogus Hillary October surprise bulls—t. I have never seen her report any story straight, just the facts.
MSNBC normally leaves Fox News alone but to contrast their sane reporting on Comey to the MAGA fever swamp version they’ve been playing TrumpTV’s hysteria. Tucker and Hannity particularly have seemingly lost their minds.
Fox News has spent over two years frantically trying to make noises about how Comey “should be very worried” or about how he was “about to go to jail” or about how they were really about to turn all of this on the Dems. Sean Hannity had repeated meltdowns as he shouted “Tick Tock!” in the middle of the Mueller Probe.
In reality, Comey’s actions weren’t illegal. Personally, I find his conduct a bit specious, but not anything you could suddenly make a criminal case around. His behavior around Hillary Clinton reeked of someone trying to play both sides when there wasn’t any criminal matter at hand. His behavior around Donald Trump just shows the same reaction most people have had when dealing with Mike Pence’s childish spokesman.
So now, since the IG report shows pretty much nothing, we’ll have Fox News making more and more phony claims about how the NEXT internal report will be the really damaging one. Sure. And they can probably sell us the Brooklyn Bridge again too.
Fox News and its pundits would do better for themselves if they can figure out how they will try to spin their way out of having cravenly propagandized for the bigoted, incompetent and deeply unpopular Pence White House for years.
Some years ago she was locked in a struggle with Fox over (surprise, surprise) renumeration and advancement opportunities for women on the network. At the time, she came across as very bitter and twisted and I wondered how the relationship could ever be mended. Clearly, nobody else wanted her, so she stayed, but from that point on, it was easy to see she had moved to a higher level of ‘company line’ reporting. The same phenomenon occurred with both Ed Henry and Gregg Jarrett, who both moved up several notches on the Graham Scale (intensity of Trumpiness) on being rehired after their respective public disgraces. Those contracts must make very interesting reading.