Right-wing media have once again been forced to reap what they sow by promoting stories based on out-of-context text messages sent between the GOP’s new favorite boogeymen.
As CNN’s Oliver Darcy, a former editor at Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze, wrote on Wednesday, “members of the pro-Trump media acted like they hit the goldmine on Wednesday morning” when Fox News published an article and released an “alert” about a single text message.
The message was sent from FBI lawyer Lisa Page to agent Peter Strzok, the erstwhile lovers at the heart of the GOP’s allegations of anti-Trump bias and corruption at the highest ranks of the FBI and Justice Department. Sent September 2, 2016, Page told Strzok that former President Barack Obama wanted “to know everything we’re doing.” The text made its way to the center of a 25-page report released by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who said it proved Obama was involved in the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server scandal.
“The misleading messaging was delivered to millions of people through Fox News’ airwaves and through other pro-Trump media, which went into overdrive,” Darcy wrote, noting that the story was featured prominently on the Drudge Report, Breitbart and fringe right-wing sites like InfoWars and the Gateway Pundit.
Soon, President Donald Trump himself was on the bandwagon, tweeting in all caps that the “new FBI texts” are “bombshells.”
NEW FBI TEXTS ARE BOMBSHELLS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 7, 2018
Johnson, however, appears to have been taken for a ride once again after touting the existence of an FBI “secret society” mentioned in another single text between Page and Strzok that ended up being a reference to gag gift calendars full of “beefcake” photos of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
When cross-referencing the timeline of the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s private email server during her time as secretary of state, CNN found that September 2, the day the text was sent, landed squarely between when the bureau closed the probe in July and re-opened it in late September.
Three days after the text was sent, in fact, Obama confronted Putin at the G20 summit in China about Russia’s meddling in the American election.
“A person familiar with Strzok’s thinking reiterated this account,” Darcy wrote, “telling CNN that the text referred to Obama’s broader interests in issues of potential Russian interference in the election more generally.”