The Challenge of the Dodgy Dossier: Trump and the Main Stream Media


2017-01-17 By Kenneth Maxwell

Donald Trump has always seen the Main Stream Media (MSM) as his competitors and frequently enemies.

The press was the most vilified target during his raucous Presidential campaign. Attacking the press always drew the loudest and most popular response from his followers, other than attacking “crooked Hillary ” which was always meet with enthusiastic chants of “lock her up.”

But the MSM was also Donald Trump’s most effective bull horn, for they seem always ready to give him free publicity.

Trump is also a master at the use of Twitter, and he has used his “tweets” to communicate directly with the general public.

He is not the first political leader to use direct communication with the public. The legendary Mayor of New York City, Fiorello La Guardia, used comic books to get his message across to the public, and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt used his radio “fireside chats” during the Great Depression in the 1930s.

But no-one has matched Donald Trump’s “tweet” blizzard.

And Donald Trump has consistently outflanked the traditional media gatekeepers: the news editors and columnists.

But this has infuriated them, and they seem constantly looking for ways to get revenge.

The “dirty dossier” of unsubstantial allegations collated about Trump and his connections to Russia by a former British MI6 spy, Christopher Steele, who co-found Orbis Business Intellegence in Belgravia, and who had worked at the UK embassy in Moscow in the early 1990s, has provided the most recent opportunity to play this game.

Christopher Steele is seen in a photo obtained by CBS News.

Steele’s 35 page dossier was first funded by anti-Trump Republican lobbyists, and later by Democrats, and had been circulating in Washington since July.

It was published by BuzzFeed, a New York City based internet company, which has also ironically faced accusations of plagerism and unreliability.

But the “leaking” of the Steele dossier, and the timing of the leak, has emboldened the enemies of Donald Trump on Capital Hill, most notably Republican Senator John McCain, who apparently gave the dossier to the FBI director James Comey, and who is demanding a probe into the Russians role in the U.S. election.

And it also encourages other Republican Trump critics and competitors like Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Marco Rubio.

There is no loser like a sore loser.

The dossier is explosive precisely because it gets to the heart of the allegations about Trump’s cosy relationships with Vladimir Putin.

And it contains unverified and salacious allegations about Trump covorting with prostitutes while in Moscow which opens him to alleged potential blackmail. And is part of the ongoing allegations about Russian interference in the hacking and release by Wikileaks of Hillary Clinton and John Podesta’s e-emails during the Presidential campaign which adversely impacted the democratic candidate’s reputation.

President-elect Donald Trump speaks at a news conference at Trump Tower on January 11, 2017. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Trump has clearly argued that the dossier notably by being published on website like Buzz Feed is less than credible.

And he has upped his attacks on the US intelligence “community”  accusing them at his first press conference since July of behaving like “Nazi Germany.”

There is little doubt that as he comes to power reform of the intelligence community is part of what will change in Washington.

The dossier goes to the heart of the most serious allegations about Russian interference on the U.S. electoral process and became, also predictably, the principal topic at the news conference held at Trump Tower in Manhattan on January 11, just a week before his inauguration on 20th January.

The press conference had been intended to discuss Trump’s plans to shift control of Trump enterprises to his two adult sons. Instead Trump was able to level Jim Acosta of CNN who he accused of purveying “false news.”

Buzz-feed he claimed was spreading an “unverified piece of garbage.”

But the problem for the MSM is simply that they are not in control of the public agenda, and the reported reforms coming where the White House Press Corps will be moved out of the White House, is certainly part of a process where the MSM is not gaining ground on being a credible “watchdog for the incoming Administration.

But the ongoing conflict can hurt Trump as well.  He can get snared into in a critical response cycle where his positive impacts are attenuated.

It is ironic, that Trump’s preferred communications methodology, the internet, and leaks, tweets and unverified accusations, are being used by the MSM as part of the arsenal of ongoing attacks, but rather than becoming a credible watchdog they are being reduced to targets of the Tweet arsenal of the incoming President.

Editor’s Note: There is a clear challenge with regard to the use of Tweets for foreign audiences certainly.

In an editorial published in The Australian on January 13, 2017, the concern was expressed that the President-elect needs to rise above scurrilous attacks and focus on the need to reassure the world. The editorial noted that much of the U.S. media has turned feral and BuzzFeed was characterized as a “click bait factory” that boasts that when in doubt about whether claims are true or not one should simply publish anyway.

The point was that although Trump has every right to bash the feral quality of the MSM, it comes at a cost.

“Mr. Trump needs to do much more to look, act, and sound presidential.”

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The Case of the Dodgy Dossier