The Outrageous Inanity of Devin Nunes and His “Great Surveillance”

I will admit that I don’t read much Fox News coverage. The little I’ve seen usually leans less in a direction of “fair and balanced” and more in a direction of “unhelpfully partisan.” And for the record – I do not subscribe to the notion that mainstream media news sources are similarly biased. Some may lean left, especially in Op-Ed pages, but as an objective reader of a wide variety of journalistic sources, I have observed that the major news sources are by and large more effectively non-partisan than Fox News.

So I will say that, when I opened up the Fox News homepage last night, I did not expect to see objective coverage – but I also did not expect to see this article on Devin Nunes featured as the lead story. When I opened the piece to read it, my jaw dropped.

I’ve been following this story since the first reports on it started to come out earlier this week. And it’s abundantly clear that this lead piece – LEAD PIECE – on FoxNews.com was about as far from journalism as you can get. It was straight-up propaganda. Let’s review the reasons why:

  • Devin Nunes is the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee
  • The House Intel Committee has been tasked with investigating Russian involvement in the 2016 election, including the Trump campaign’s ties to this involvement
  • Devin Nunes was also a member of Trump’s transition team
  • Devin Nunes is VERY reluctant to investigate Trump and his associates
  • Devin Nunes prefers to investigate leaks of classified information instead of (and definitely not in addition to) any potentially incriminating evidence that leaks might suggest
  • Devin Nunes chaired a hearing earlier this week in which James Comey, FBI Director, made the shocking decision to publicly confirm that the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia during the election
  • Devin Nunes, upon hearing such a shocking revelation, opted to pepper Comey with questions about leaks, instead of Trump/Russian connections
  • James Comey also publicly confirmed during the same hearing that there was no evidence of Obama wiretapping Trump Tower
  • None of this looked good for Trump. Or for Devin Nunes.
  • Two days after the Comey hearing, Devin Nunes held an impromptu press conference in which he referenced “sources” who came to him with info that said that legal incidental collections from intelligence surveillance had picked up some Trump campaign communications before Obama left office; claimed that this was “alarming,” and raced off to brief Trump himself before showing anyone else on the committee – oh, but also briefing Paul Ryan on it earlier in the day. Which is not even close to standard practice for disseminating that kind of information.
  • Hence, this article.

So here, taking just one sentence from this hack job of a piece from Fox– to state that there is “no doubt the Obama administration, in its closing days, was using the cover of legitimate surveillance on foreign targets to spy on President-elect Trump, according to sources” is LITERALLY INSANE. That is the most convoluted, twisted and straight up WRONG spin of actual events that I have seen in a long – LONG – time. The fact that the president’s (possibly) or the president’s associates (likely) communications got swept up in the course of legal surveillance on a foreign target means a couple of important things. 1) The president or his associates were communicating with someone, or someones, who were under surveillance from a legal FISA warrant – meaning that there was probable cause, considered and ruled upon by a FISA court, to monitor them – leading to, 2) WHY are the president and/or his associates communicating with such people????? THESE are the questions we should be asking!

There is literally no way former President Obama (or anyone) could have constructed a system wherein they anticipated (telepathically?) which foreign agent Donald Trump would contact, then devised a way to make sure that those people engaged in some kind of questionable behavior to the point where a FISA court would issue a warrant for their surveillance, and then monitor THOSE people, in the malevolent hope that Trump’s communications with them would be picked up that way. It is ludicrous, and downright stupid, to even suggest it. But that’s exactly what Fox News does! And puts it on the front page! What. What. What.

Not to mention the additional fishy points here of WHY Nunes did not share this ‘explosive’ new intel with his committee members before running off to the White House (an extreme—unprecented, in fact – breach of protocol for him to do so), WHY he is even running to the White House to share information that pertains to an ongoing investigation WITH THE PERSON UNDER INVESTIGATION, and WHY he is holding press conferences about this information, AGAIN, before even sharing it with his committee members or offering it for any sort of review? Where did he get this information? Anonymous sources? Oh, so these are cool now? They weren’t a few days ago. Why are we leaking information about any FISA warrant – is that not illegal? Did we not spend hours upon hours earlier this week listening to Nunes himself lament about the wretchedness of leaks, and how disgusting and despicable (not to mention criminal) the leakers are? Not to mention the wretchedness of using anonymous sources as a basis for reporting information. WHAT IN THE EVER LOVING HECK IS GOING ON??!! And WHY, for the love of God, is Fox News proclaiming that this is ANY kind of a “smoking gun” in terms of Trump’s ludicrious, outrageous, completely 100% (still) false claims that Obama “tapped his wires”??? EVERY SPY AGENCY HAS DENIED THIS AS EVEN BEING POSSIBLE. Good God. Are you that desperate to give Trump some shred of plausible cover for his preposterous, embarrassing, defamatory tweets that you are willing to push “news” articles like this onto your Trump-hungry, desperate-to-justify-his-every-word, still- frothing-at-the-mouth-at-the-mere-mention-of-Obama reader base?

Even for you, Fox News, this was low. You owe your readers real – ethical – journalism, not shameful partisan propaganda. Maybe your next piece should be some actual journalism to investigate the seriously shady circumstances surrounding Devin Nunes, his connection to Trump, and how in the hell he could ever be expected to lead a credible investigation into this matter.

Sad, Fox. Sad.