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From Consortium News
Last Saturday, veteran Washington journalist Michael Isikoff began a John Ehrlichman/Watergate-style "modified limited hangout" regarding the embarrassing overreach in his Russia-gate "collusion" reporting. He picked an unctuous, longtime fan, radio host John Ziegler, to help him put some lipstick on the proverbial pig. Even so, the interview did not go so well.
Those who can muster some residual empathy for formerly serious reporters who have gotten Russia-gate so wrong, may feel genuine sadness at this point. Those fed up with pretense, unprofessionalism, and dodging, however, will find it hard to listen to the audible squirming without a touch, or more, of Schadenfreude -- the word Germans use to denote taking joy at the misfortune of others.
In a word, it proved hard to square the circle inside which Isikoff and other Russia-gate aficionados have been living in for more than two years after last week's disclosures. Ziegler's repeated expressions of admiration for Isikoff's work, plus his softball questions, utterly failed to disguise Isikoff's disappointment that Robert Mueller's Russia-gate investigation is "not where a lot of people would like it to be."
"A lot of people" includes Isikoff.
Commenting on the trove of legal and other documents now available, Isikoff pretty much conceded that he and his co-writer, journalist David Corn were, in effect, impersonating serious investigative journalists when they published in April 2017 their gripping Russia-gate chef d'oeuvre: "Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump."
Aware of the credulity given by Isikoff and Corn to the "Steele dossier," Ziegler began with what he apparently thought was a soft-ball observation/question. "Would you agree that a lot of what is in the Steele Dossier has been at least somewhat vindicated?"
"No," said Isikoff flatly.
The conversation turned to so-called "logical" explanations for leaps of faith rather than analysis. Unsubstantiated accusations, like the so-called "pee-tape" Isikoff now says is "likely false."
A "modified limited hangout" is when someone's cover story is blown and some truth needs to be divulged to deflect further inquiry. Isikoff's begins at the 26:50 mark and goes on, churning one's stomach for 30 minutes.
A better subtitle for Isikoff and Corn's book might be "Based on What We Wanted to Believe Was a True Story."
Isikoff told Ziegler that unless "Saint" Robert Mueller, as Democrats see him, can summon a Deus ex Machina to provide some actual evidence linking Trump or his campaign to collusion with Russia, former Isikoff acquaintances, like me, might legitimately ask, "What the hell happened to you, Mike?"
Isikoff and Corn have done some serious work together in the past. Their 2006 book, "Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War" -- was an accurate chronicle of the Cheney/Bush March of Folly into Iraq. That was also against a Republican administration. But they had interviewed people from both sides of the issues.
Though neither were fans of George W. Bush, they backed up their work with facts. "Russian Roulette" is a different story. It reads now like desperation to confirm what the authors hoped Mueller would find. He has failed them.
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