NYT slammed for downplaying Steele dossier's impact on Trump-Russia probe

donald trump, dossier, new york times, russia

The New York Times was criticized for an explainer that claimed the Steele dossier was only tangential to the Trump-Russia investigation. Getty Images

Journalists, authors and ex-White House aides took to Twitter Thursday slamming the New York Times for an explainer that downplayed the impact of the since-discredited Steele dossier on the Russia investigation into former President Donald Trump

The story, headlined, “Why the Discredited Dossier Does Not Undercut the Russia Investigation” and written by Washington correspondent Charlie Savage, attempts to distance the dossier from the Russia investigation, saying the two are “tangential.”

“Mr. Trump and his allies have insinuated that the F.B.I. based the Russia investigation on the dossier. But when counterintelligence agents launched the effort on July 30, 2016, they did not yet know about the dossier. An inspector general report established that Mr. Steele’s reports reached that counterintelligence team on Sept. 19, 2016,” Savage wrote.

He later claimed that the dossier “did not create” an “atmosphere of suspicion” around Trump, pointing to previous reports of Trump’s connections with Russia that emerged prior to the dossier’s release.

donald trump, dossier, new york times, russia

The article’s author, Charlie Savage, had previously connected the Steele dossier to the Russia investigation and was criticized for hypocrisy.

Getty Images

Savage’s article was met with lots of criticism, with some accusing him of hypocrisy, having directly connected the dossier and the Russia investigation in 2018. 

“This you?” Historian Svetlana Lokhova tweeted, sharing a screenshot of an article authored by Savage in Feb. 2018.

This you? https://t.co/uadjYgBWRk pic.twitter.com/b6me5STD2J

— Svetlana Lokhova (@RealSLokhova) December 1, 2021

“An application to wiretap a former associate of President Trump’s campaign in fall 2016 “made only narrow use” of information provided by a former British spy who compiled a notorious dossier about Mr. Trump and Russia, according to a memo released by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee on Saturday,” the screenshot read. 

Savage did note that the FBI took steps in its investigation based on claims made in the dossier, but emphasized that investigators and Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not rely on the allegations for their findings or criminal charges that came out of it. 

donald trump, dossier, new york times, russia

Former UK intelligence officer Christopher Steele authored the since discredited dossier.

AFP via Getty Images

In a tweet, the journalist promoted the explainer saying, “It’s become clear that the Steele Dossier was unreliable & unworthy of the attention it received. But it was also a largely tangential distraction from the actual Russia investigation, despite misleading attempts to conflate them.”

Others pointed out the New York Times’ reporting as a whole which — along with many other major media outlets such as the Washington Post and MSNBC — promoted the dossier as not entirely “disproven” for some time. 

“Sorry, Charlie. No. NYT dutifully reported as spun by a Clinton operation designed to undo free and fair election results and hobble a presidency. The only question is not who, but HOW MANY OF YOU knew full well you were part of the operation. You destroyed families. Children,” former Trump aide Michael Caputo wrote. 

donald trump, dossier, new york times, russia

The dossier alleged that former President Trump had paid Russian prostitutes to urinate on a hotel bed previously occupied by Barack and Michelle Obama.

Bloomberg via Getty Images

Mollie Hemmingway, senior editor for The Federalist, accused the paper of losing its credibility through downplaying the dossier’s role in the Russia investigation and the outlet’s reporting on it.

“Even moreso, it’s clear some of the dossier’s biggest peddlers aren’t just trying to downplay the role it played in their own ‘reporting’ but pretend that ONLY the dossier aspect of the Russia collusion hoax was problematic. Give it up, hoaxers. Your credibility: gone,” she said. 

Others completely disagreed with Savage’s reporting, arguing the dossier held a “central” role in the investigation.

donald trump, dossier, new york times, russia

Many accused the New York Times of having promoted the Steele dossier, and Mollie Hemingway, senior editor of The Federalist, claimed the New York Times had lost its credibility by now downplaying its role in the Russia investigation.

Getty Images

“The Steele Dossier wasn’t tangential to the Trump-Russia investigation — it was a central & essential part of it,” Washington Examiner reporter Jerry Dunleavy tweeted. 

The dossier was compiled and released in 2017 by former British spy Christopher Steele, who used several unreliable sources to allege several claims against Trump — including that Russian security services possessed a tape of Trump in a Moscow hotel room with prostitutes who were urinating on a bed where then-President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama had previously stayed.

Many of the allegations have since been debunked and several media outlets have retracted some of their previous reporting that relied on sources who lied.

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