FLYNN FACTS: And the lack of same!

TUESDAY, MAY 23, 2017

Part 1—The way the press corps functions:
Midway through last night's 7 o'clock hour, cable news went "all-Manchester all-the-time."

Before that happened, we were struck by several aspects of Erin Burnett's journalistic performance on CNN.

First, Burnett discussed the newest report from the Washington Post, a report which appears on this morning's front page.

The Post reports that Donald J. Trump "asked two of the nation’s top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, according to current and former officials."

Before events in Manchester took precedence, this report was destined to be the focus of last night's cable excitement.

Did Donald J. Trump really do the things described in the Post report? We were surprised to see Burnett treat the report as established fact. Whatever the facts may turn out to be, that wasn't the world's greatest journalism.

Soon after, we were surprised by Burnett's treatment of a new report concerning Michael Flynn. She seemed unfamiliar with a ludicrous claim Flynn first made last summer.

The ludicrous claim concerns the money Flynn was paid for a speaking engagement in Russia—a December 2015 engagement which is now quite famous. According to a congresional committee, Flynn received roughly $45,000 for the engagement. But by whom was he paid?

At least as early as last summer, Flynn was answering that question in a ridiculous way.

In a widely-discussed interview with Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News, Flynn offered an absurd explanation. He wasn't paid for the Russians, he said. He was paid by his speakers' bureau!
ISIKOFF (7/18/16): Were you paid for that event?

FLYNN: You’d have to ask my—the folks that I went over there on behalf of.

ISIKOFF: Well, I’m asking you. You’d know if you were paid.

FLYNN: Yeah, I mean I went over there as a speaking event. It was a speaking event. What difference does that make? Did somebody go "Oh, he’s paid by the Russians?"

ISIKOFF: Well, Donald Trump has made a lot of the fact that Hillary Clinton has taken money from Wall Street, Goldman Sachs.

FLYNN: I didn’t take any money from Russia, if that’s what you’re asking me.

ISIKOFF: Well then, who paid you?

FLYNN: My speakers’ bureau. Ask them.
He wasn't paid by the Russkies, Flynn said. He was paid by his speakers bureau! To watch that exchange, click here.

Periodically, that silly distinction has bubbled up over the past ten months. Yesterday, it seemed to bubble up again in a letter by Rep. Elijah Cummings—but Burnett seemed to think the silly distinction was new.

Burnett's apparent cluelessnes regarding this point struck us as unimpressive. That said, there's been a lot of journalistic heat surrounding Flynn's behavior on the international stage, not always a whole lot of journalistic light.

How competent have our news orgs been in their discussions of Flynn-in-the-world? Not gigantically competent! Consider something we read in Saturday's Washington Post.

The report concerned Flynn's work for Inovo BV, a Netherlands based lobbying firm. In this passage, two Post reporters described Ekim Alptekin, the founder of the firm:
BARRETT AND ZAPOTOSKY (5/20/17): A grand jury in Alexandria, Va., recently issued a subpoena for records related to Flynn's business, the Flynn Intel Group, which was paid more than $500,000 by a company owned by a Turkish American businessman close to top Turkish officials, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Flynn Intel Group was paid for research on Fethullah Gulen, a cleric who Turkey's current president believes was responsible for a coup attempt last summer. Flynn retroactively registered with the Justice Department in March as a paid foreign agent for Turkish interests.
Alptekin wasn't named, but he was described as "a Turkish American businessman." Two weeks earlier, Matea Gold had described him the same way in this front-page report in the Post:
GOLD (5/5/17): [Flynn's] research was financed by a company owned by Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish American businessman close to top officials in Turkey, the documents show. Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accuses Gulen for fomenting a coup attempt last summer and wants him extradited from the United States.

Inovo, a Netherlands-based company owned by Alptekin, paid Flynn Intel Group $530,000 to activate an "investigative laboratory" made up of former top security and intelligence officials to research Gulen, according to documents Flynn filed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Alptekin is "a Turkish American businessman," Gold also reported. That would be fine, except back in March and April, the Post was describing Alptekin as "a Turkish businessman," which isn't the same thing.

The New York Times has also toggled back and forth in its descriptions. Sometimes Alptekin has been "Turkish-American," sometimes he's been "Turkish."

Does this distinction matter? Given the charges and claims involved here, it probably pretty much could!

That said, we'd make a different basic point. Given the amount of attention paid to Flynn's work for Inovo BV, it's amazing that our biggest newspapers can't be bothered to establish even the simplest facts about the man for whom he worked.

Is Ekim Alptekin a Turkish citizen? Is he "Turkish American," a designation which seems to imply that he's an American citizen?

Might he be a dual citizen? Does anyone at these major newspapers know or care?

The Post and the Times have both toggled about between these dueling descriptions of Alptekin. Given the amount of focus directed on this matter, this is lazy, incompetent front-page pseudo-reporting as its ridiculous worst.

In fact, reporting on Flynn's work for Inovo has been riddled with incompetence and error. This extends beyond the work of the Post and the Times, extending up the slopes of Olympus to the aerie which houses Rachel Maddow, whose accounts of this much-beloved matter change on a daily basis.

In the next few day, we'll try to nail down a few basic facts about Flynn, Alptekin and Inovo, the Dutch-based form Alptekin founded and still runs. But our focus won't be on Flynn or Alptekin. As always, our principal focus will be on the work of the press, which is currently staging a chase.

A headlong chase is currently on; excitement fills the air. When such episodes occur, our journalists sometimes send their standards and skills on holiday. On partisan cable, you may get severely conned.

Flynn, who strikes us as a nut, has been widely ridiculed for his unreliable "Flynn facts." That said, the press corps has produced its own array of puzzling, murky "Flynn facts" as it has pretended to cover this high-profile topic.

Who the heck is Ekim Alptekin? As we attempt to fumble through the press corps' array of "Flynn facts," that will just be our initial question.

We'll end with the most exciting question of all. What is a "foreign agent?"

Tomorrow: Who is Ekim Alptekin?


  1. Did Donald J. Trump really do the things described in the Post report? We were surprised to see Burnett treat the report as established fact.

    Why Bob? Why were you surprised? The miserable lying bastard has been on a systematic coordinate campaign of obstructing and deflecting the investigation since day 1. How much fucking evidence do you need. This was Article 1 of the Impeachment of Nixon. Attempting to get the CIA to squash the Watergate investigation by the FBI. That was the fucking smoking gun. The WH tape he held out till the very end because he knew if it was revealed he was gone.

    Here we have a systematic repeated pattern of abuse of his office, witness intimidation, etc.

    From February 24.

    The Trump administration has enlisted senior members of the intelligence community and Congress in efforts to counter news stories about Trump associates’ ties to Russia, a politically charged issue that has been under investigation by the FBI as well as lawmakers now defending the White House.

    Acting at the behest of the White House, the officials made calls to news organizations last week in attempts to challenge stories about alleged contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, U.S. officials said.

    The calls were orchestrated by the White House after unsuccessful attempts by the administration to get senior FBI officials to speak with news organizations and dispute the accuracy of stories on the alleged contacts with Russia.

    The White House on Friday acknowledged those interactions with the FBI but did not disclose that it then turned to other officials who agreed to do what the FBI would not — participate in White House-arranged calls with news organizations, including The Washington Post.

    Just one piece of evidence in an every accumulating pile of his clear continual obstruction of lawful investigation into his corrupt treasonous campaign.

    Enough is enough.

    1. I think Erin Burnett does a good job. She doesn't deserve Somerby's negative attention.

    2. ■ John O. Brennan, the former director of the C.I.A., said publicly for the first time Tuesday that he was concerned about possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.


      ■ President Trump asked two top intelligence officials to deny the existence of any evidence of collusion between his campaign and Russia, former officials said. Both of the intelligence officials are testifying before lawmakers on Tuesday.


      Former C.I.A. chief talks publicly about concern over possible Russia ties to Trump campaign.

      Mr. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director, said Tuesday that he became concerned last year that the Russian government was trying to influence members of the Trump campaign to act — wittingly or unwittingly — on Moscow’s behalf.

      “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals,” Mr. Brennan told lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee.


      Trump asked intelligence chiefs to push back on Russia investigation, officials say.

      Mr. Trump asked two of the country’s top intelligence officials to make public statements saying there was no evidence of collusion between his campaign and Russian officials, hoping to undercut an F.B.I. investigation into meddling by Russian in the 2016 presidential election, two former American officials said.

      The requests were made in late March to Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the chief of the National Security Agency. Both men rebuffed the request, which they saw as an inappropriate effort to inject politics into an intelligence and law enforcement matter,
      the former officials said.


    3. “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals,” Mr. Brennan told lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee."

      Where's the beef? Come on man, where is it? Why hasn't it been shared with We the People if it's true? We rely on Brennan because he says it's true?


    4. Due process. You build a case first by collecting evidence, then you bring charges and then you prosecute. Brennan is an investigator. It isn't his place to do the rest of the process -- but it will happen. Be patient.

    5. Brennan's position is clear, according to today's testimony:

      Former CIA Director John Brennan said Tuesday President Donald Trump did not attempt to enlist the help of any official in the intelligence community to kill the investigation of his former national security advisor, Michael T. Flynn.

      Brennan’s comment in a congressional hearing contradicts widespread media reports charging the Trump White House attempted to derail an investigation of Flynn, who is facing multiple probes about his relationship with Russian officials and business dealings with the government of Turkey.

    6. Brennan didn't contradict anything. He wasn't CIA director when Trump attempted to shut down the investigation. Brennan's discoveries were referred to the FBI and became the basis for their investigation.

    7. Comrade DinC, you pull this dishonest shit all the time. You post a headline that totally misrepresents the actual question and answer.

      Former CIA Director John Brennan said Tuesday President Donald Trump did not attempt to enlist the help of any official in the intelligence community to kill the investigation of his former national security advisor, Michael T. Flynn.

      No you fuckwad. That didn't actually happen.

      Here is the question and answer:


      NO, SIR

      You see Comrade, Brennan did not in any way shape or form categorically claim the tRump did not attempt to enlist the help of any official in the intelligence community to kill the investigation of his former national security advisor, Michael T. Flynn.

      What he said was that nobody shared their concerns with him. Very different from the dishonest bullshit you so cheerfully posted.

      Here is what the guy who was actually named in the WP story said today when asked about that.

      Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats declined to comment Tuesday on the report that President Donald Trump asked him to publicly deny evidence of cooperation between his campaign and Russia during the 2016 election

      He declined to comment but said he would to an investigative committee.

      "I do believe that the information and discussions that I've had with the President are something that should not be disclosed," Coats said. "On the other hand, if I'm called before an investigative committee, I certainly will provide them with what I know and what I don't know."

      So, once again, go fuck yourself comrade Dinky. You lie like I breath.

    8. Your position is clear, Comrade DinC. You are a bullshitter just like the fucking pussygrabbing pervert flim flam man you worship.

      Did you even read the link you provided? Did you happen to notice there is no quote of the question he was asked and no quote of the answer he gave.

      You clearly are scraping the bottom of the barrel in your deplorable desperation to defend the indefensible.

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