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On Durham, conservative media again debunked by evidence


Two weeks ago, it was the idea that the Biden administration was sending crack pipes to addicts across the country — a claim that the Washington Free Beacon reported had been confirmed by an anonymous administration official. The claim was stated as fact by oodles of congressional Republicans and was even the subject of newly introduced legislation.

Except it turned out the official never actually confirmed pipes were being sent as part of harm-mitigation kits, as an editor at the publication acknowledged. To this day, though, the story still says the administration official confirmed the kits “will provide pipes for users to smoke crack cocaine.”

The latest follows a strikingly similar pattern, as The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler summarizes. Special counsel John Durham had issued a filing with some intriguing allegations: that a tech executive tied to the Clinton campaign “had come to access and maintain dedicated servers for the EOP” — that is, the Executive Office of the President of the United States. Durham said access to the data had been “exploited” “for the purpose of gathering derogatory information about Donald Trump.”

Numerous conservative outlets and lawmakers leaped to the conclusion that this meant the Clinton campaign had spied on Trump while he was in the White House. But even after it was noted Monday that Durham’s filing never actually said this and that the time period referenced appeared to be during the Obama administration — not Trump’s — they pressed forward. The culmination came late Thursday, when Durham issued a new filing implicitly acknowledging conservative media had butchered his allegation. A key figure cited was obviously from the Obama era.

Durham explained, in response to allegations from a defendant that his filing was misleading: “If third parties or members of the media have overstated, understated or otherwise misinterpreted facts contained in the government’s motion, that does not in any way undermine the valid reasons for the government’s inclusion of this information.”

Indeed, this wasn’t terribly surprising. As far back as Monday — shortly after the allegation burst into the mainstream — evidence emerged that it wasn’t the Trump White House that was referenced. A person involved in the data analysis stated that the information collected, to his knowledge, “was nonprivate [domain name system] data from before Trump took office.” In other words: not “spying,” and also not the Trump White House.

Despite that, and despite the fact that Durham never said there was spying on the Trump White House, the march to scandal resumed. It was repeatedly stated as fact — often not even qualified as a possibility or even a likelihood — that the Clinton campaign had spied on Trump’s White House. And there’s little sign of any backpedaling.

Fox News’s story…


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