Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple has actually been on a tear against members of the mainstream media over their faulty handling of the unmasked Steele dossier. His latest target is MSNBC‘s working with of Politico press reporter Natasha Bertrand, whose file commentary assisted land her a contributor gig at the network.
Wemple started his piece on Friday evaluating Bertrand’s recent on-air look where she informed MSNBC’s Joy Reid “we don’t have the reporting” to suggest President Trump has informed aides that he “wants” Russia’s aid in the 2020 election, as the liberal host declared earlier in the program.
“No, we put on’t have that reporting — though there’s no restriction versus fantasizing about it on national tv,” Wemple wrote. “Such is the theme of Bertrand’s commentary during previous coverage of Russian disturbance, particularly the dossier of memos drawn up by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. With winks and nods from MSNBC hosts, Bertrand loaded reliability on the dossier.”
Bertrand, who signed up with Politico as a nationwide security correspondent in 2019 after reporting for Service Insider and The Atlantic, “bootstrapped her punditry” into a contributorship with the liberal network in 2018, according to Wemple, following a number of appearances hyping the dossier and the Russia investigation. Wemple implicated her of participating in the “collective journalistic failure on the MSNBC airwaves.”
He noted her first “boosterism” took location throughout a panel conversation back in 2017 on a now-refuted CNN report that former Trump project chairman Paul Manafort was wiretapped and connected him to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) application submitted versus former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page, who she alleged was working as a “liaison” with Manafort, stating “these pieces are all starting to come together and it’s truly disconcerting.”
“Not so worrying, as it turned out,” Wemple reacted. “For one, CNN was incorrect about the Manafort wiretapping story, as made clear in the report from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz. The network included a weaselly editor’s note to the Manafort story as a suggests of wishing away the bad news. For another, the Horowitz report made clear that the FBI made various omissions and mistakes in the FISA process and still secured permissions.”
The media critic noted a number of other examples of Bertrand’s alleged speculative commentary, including her claim that it was becoming “more plausible” that a “pee tape” existed revealing President Trump with woman of the streets in a Moscow hotel room after his declared extramarital affair with pornstar Rainy Daniels was advertised in 2018.
“[Horowitz’s] conclusions may well have stunned anyone who relied on Bertrand’s reporting on MSNBC and somewhere else,” Wemple continued. “The speculative mess that Bertrand has left all over Nexis transcripts serves as an indictment of cable-news perceptiveness. Incentives on prime-time MSNBC shows point specifically in the direction that Bertrand ventured on too many occasions — that is, toward believing the specifics of a file whose accuracy she and others couldn’t begin to evaluate.”
“Lefty hosts desired to hear that the Michael Cohen things looked plausible, that the Russians had undoubtedly been cultivating Trump, and that it was all coming together. So that’s what she said, and in March 2018, she was rewarded with an MSNBC factor gig.”
Wemple went on to mock the Politico reporter for going on the “attack” against Horowitz for “debunking” her punditry after reporting that anonymous “experts” who criticized the DOJ for not redacting parts of the guard dog’s report that may expose sources and methods, echoing The Obstruct’s Glenn Greenwald who said, “I can not fathom being a reporter and complaining that the government isn’t hiding more details.”
With winks and nods from MSNBC hosts, Bertrand loaded credibility on the [Steele] dossier
Politico stood by Bertrand, informing Wemple in a statement that she is “an extremely well-sourced reporter and her depth of knowledge on national security concerns is exceptional.” MSNBC declined to comment to The Washington Post critic.
As part of an continuous series taking a look at the media’s coverage of the Steele dossier, Wemple formerly took objective at CNN over its reporting of the Steele dossier as well as its “corrupting” hire of former Deputy FBI D irector Andrew McCabe, who oversaw the questionable FISA application into Page. Wemple also blasted MSNBC star Rachel Maddow for “rooting” for the file.