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March 06, 2018

The New Yorker Attempts But Fails To Boost The Steele Dossier

Updated below

Yesterday The New Yorker published a 15,000 word piece about Christopher Steele, the former British spook who created the "dossier" about alleged Russian interference with Trump. Written by Jane Mayer the piece is designed to let Steele shine in the very best light. A civil servant who only followed his conscience when he peddled his made-up dirt to the FBI, the media and Congress.

That a private investigator, highly paid by the Clinton campaign to find dirt about Trump, was acting out of decency, would be unbelievable in the best case. But the piece is way worse. There are at least six factual errors in it which anyone who has followed the affair can easily detect. Some new allegations in the piece are so thinly sourced that any decent editor would have thrown them out.

The first graph is already a mess:

In January, after a long day at his London office, Christopher Steele, the former spy turned private investigator, was stepping off a commuter train in Farnham, where he lives, when one of his two phones rang. He’d been looking forward to dinner at home with his wife, and perhaps a glass of wine. It had been their dream to live in Farnham, a town in Surrey with a beautiful Georgian high street, where they could afford a house big enough to accommodate their four children, on nearly an acre of land. Steele, who is fifty-three, looked much like the other businessmen heading home, except for the fact that he kept his phones in a Faraday bag—a pouch, of military-tested double-grade fabric, designed to block signal detection.

A friend in Washington, D.C., was calling with bad news: ...

A phone, kept in a Faraday bag designed to block signals, rings? How please can a phone that can not send or receive signals, take a call? That is impossible. How can a fact-checker and/or editor at The New Yorker let such nonsense slip into the opening graph of such a large piece?

Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel, with whom I have exchanged views on this, details several of the factual errors in the piece:

  • The piece misleads the reader by insinuating that Steele was original paid by Republican money. GPS Fusion was paid by a Republican opponent of Trump to find dirt on him. That job ended after Trump had won the primaries. GPS Fusion then started to work for the Clinton campaign. Steele was hired by GPS only after the GPS client had changed. He was then tasked with finding something "Russian" on Trump.
  • Mayer claims that the Democrats were only alarmed about the "hacking" of the DNC emails after, in late July 2016, Wikileaks started to publish those. That is wrong. Marcy points out that one month earlier the Guccifer 2.0 figure had already published internal details from the DNC "hack". That, at the latest, set off the alarm bells.
  • Mayer also claims that none of reporters who were briefed by Steele then wrote about the dossier. But Michael Isikoff did write about it without revealing that Steele was his source. His report was used by the FBI as a confirmation of the Steele claims.

Later the piece comes up with this unfounded assertion to further polish the dossier:

It’s too early to make a final judgment about how much of Steele’s dossier will be proved wrong, but a number of Steele’s major claims have been backed up by subsequent disclosures.

That the Steele dossier was backed up by subsequent disclosures would be news to me. What evidence does Mayer have to support that?

His allegation that the Kremlin favored Trump in 2016 and was offering his campaign dirt on Hillary has been borne out.

No, it has not. Dirt on Clinton was offered to the Trump campaign by one Rob Goldstone, a British lobbyist who tried get a date with the campaign for a Russian lobbyist hired by some oligarch who wanted to get rid of sanctions enacted against him. A meeting with both lobbyists was held in the Trump Tower but cut short when it became obvious that they could not provide any dirt on Clinton. This had nothing to do with Steele or the content of his dossier.

So has his claim that the Kremlin and WikiLeaks were working together to release the D.N.C.’s e-mails.

No evidence exists to support that claim. Wikileaks, Craig Murrey and Kim Dotcom have consistently said that the DNC emails Wikileaks published did not come from a "hack" or from Russian sources and that Russia was not involved in their release. This again has nothing to do with the dossier.

Indeed, it’s getting harder every day to claim that Steele was simply spreading lies, now that three former Trump campaign officials—Flynn, Papadopoulos, and Rick Gates, who served as deputy campaign chairman—have all pleaded guilty to criminal charges, and appear to be cooperating with the investigation.

And again: None of the cases against those persons had anything to do with Steele or his dossier. They pleaded guilty on unrelated issues.

None of these three points Jane Mayer makes is supporting the claimed veracity of the Steele dossier or any part of it. She is evidently misleading the readers by claiming that they do so.

There are some details in the Mayer piece that could be news and would normally deserve some discussion. But the piece is full of obvious errors, unreliable arguments and its sourcing is very thin. Thus nothing in it can be taken at face value.

The famous fact checking of The New Yorker completely failed with this piece. It is sad that the once venerable magazine and the admirable Jane Mayer have become willing propagandists for this lost cause.


Chuck Ross of the Daily Caller (yes, I know it is not deemed reputable) looked into some claims Mayer makes in her piece which, if true, contain new morsels on the issue. They support the standpoint that the whole dossier is fake. These points are:

  1. Steele likely knew who funded the dossier
  2. Steele used dozens of paid confidential ‘collectors’, not unpaid ones
  3. Steele may have earlier worked for a Kremlin-connected oligarch
  4. The salacious claims in the dossier were based on secondhand information
  5. Steele briefed Jane Mayer during the campaign
  6. A John McCain associate wanted to use dossier to force Trump to resign

Another new point in the Mayer piece, not in the above list, is an alleged meeting between the head of the British spy service GCHQ and the head of the CIA John Brennan in which GCHQ briefs Brennan about alleged interceptions of communication between Trump campaign associates and Russia. This is curious because the usual contact for such a case should have been the FBI, not the CIA.

But some have suggested that the Brennan came up with the idea or at least directed the campaign of smearing Trump over made-up connections with Russia. For legal reasons and deniability the affair the creation of "evidence" was outsourced to the British partners. As Pat Lang, who has led large intelligence spying and counter-intelligence operations, opines:

IMO there was a criminal conspiracy among various parts of the government, the Clinton Campaign and the MSM to rig the election against Trump, and it continues. pl

Posted by b on March 6, 2018 at 05:12 AM | Permalink

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@96 john

I get great healthcare and I am a landscaper. Maybe all the reported nervous breakdowns she had before and after might clue you in. She's in hell. But it sounds like you don't believe in the avenging power of the universe. It is written in my name. Go, Nemesis, go!

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Mar 7, 2018 2:08:16 PM | 101

"The Heritage Foundation announced this week that “the Trump administration has already implemented nearly two-thirds of the 334 agenda items” the right-wing think tank called for..." Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 6, 2018 10:06:51 PM | 58

Do you have a link to their list, would love to see it:)

Posted by: frances | Mar 7, 2018 2:26:43 PM | 102

@91 jackrabbit

But Russia was already dicking with the US in Syria by "helping Assad gas his own people." Hitching that wagon to Trump was a no-brainer for a desperate Clinton campaign (especially for her drones who believe in humanitarian bombing): when Hillary during the debates called out Trump on being a Kremlin puppet. This was months before Obama's call to investigate Trump's Russian-ties and proves that the idea was put in effect during the campaign and utilized at its end (if only so late because they did not know the true threat of an anti-establishment candidate like Trump at the beginning...which confirms my suspicion that they are not intelligent and Trump is).

I question your number 3, too. B has posited in this post that there is a general conspiracy by the corporate media, the dems, and the neocons to drag Trump through the mud. So what you are in effect saying is that there are two establishments (which seems silly). But I might say that if Trump benefits a bygone establishment that is at loggerheads with the globalists outlined above, then I say carry on. But why on earth would one question the benefit of an imploding msm, a faux-left democratic party, and a retreating pattern of globalists throughout the world? You are looking a gift horse in the mouth.

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Mar 7, 2018 2:28:49 PM | 103


i wouldn't pretend to know what demons might haunt Hillary Clinton, or for that matter, Bush, Blair, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Obama, Kissinger, or anyone of a whole slew of war criminal shit stains. and neither should you. but you may have noticed that they tend to live to a ripe old age, again, in the lap of luxury with the best healthcare.

But it sounds like you don't believe in the avenging power of the universe

i'm not a vengeful person, but i prefer my war criminals behind bars.

Posted by: john | Mar 7, 2018 2:36:13 PM | 104

@101 john

Just sayin' man-made justice is slow to the party if it ever arrives at all. It's a sad, misplaced ideal. I tend to subscribe to natural order and the torment of those who fall off the wagon, so to speak. It's a matter-of-fact way of living...guilt-free, really...and it suits me fine.

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Mar 7, 2018 2:49:01 PM | 105

@62 Jackrabbit

Re HRC winning 6 of 6 coin tosses: when I heard this I said to my wife that there was only a 1 in 64 chance (1.5625 %) of anybody winning six consecutive fair coin tosses. But then, in her one and only stock trade, the stable genius HRC cleaned up, never to play the market again.

Posted by: spudski | Mar 7, 2018 3:19:01 PM | 106

Talk about interference in US elections -- isn't it amazing what Europe is preparing to do in response to Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs? Yep, they will be targeting their reprisal tariffs to products from states that voted for Trump in the 2016 elections -- orange juice from Florida, whiskey from Kentucky …. They are not even hiding their intent! What would Russiagate be in comparison to this?

Posted by: hojo | Mar 7, 2018 4:30:17 PM | 107


Yes. Hillary said that Trump’s disengagement would only help Putin. She was playing to her experience. But Highlighting inexperience is a far cry from linking Trump’s being in Putin’s pocket. The Steel dossier was never used.

“Globalists in retreat?” That is over-stating what has been minor set-backs thus far: some bad press for Soros; a few immigration restrictions; etc. Naturally Trump must make progress on some issues as he fails in others.

Not signing TPP was an easy ‘win’ because it was flawed and much-criticized. Trump’s main complaint was not that Obama was negotiating away US sovereignty but that multi-nation trade deals are difficult to renegotiate.

Now the Trump Administration is seeking to roll back the Volker rule. A ‘give’ to Wall St. Can you hear the cheers of the swamp-dwelling globalists?

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Mar 7, 2018 4:35:25 PM | 108

IMO, ALL the modern day Presidents, are merely puppets, dancing to the string pulling of the marionettes, the corporate uber wealthy, who owned them all. With their ability to buy people by the bushel basket, they determine foreign and domestic policy, not the POTUS.

Throughout history all the evil men behind empires could never have come to power without the help of the greedy wealthy elites of their time.

DT is no exception, to assume so, is the height of naivety..

Posted by: ben | Mar 7, 2018 8:27:07 PM | 109

ben @109:

Agreed.   I wondered today how long this Cold War v2.0 will last.   50 or maybe 100 years?

Posted by: Ian | Mar 7, 2018 8:54:25 PM | 110

Hoarsewhisperer - it seems Eric Schmidt's (which is a German Nazi heir btw with connections with Op.Paperclip back in the 40's) Google now known as "Alphabet" was running (and probably still is although being removed from Google inc.) a vast SPY OPERATION through the Android Operating System and various outlets masked as google services. One thing they own is state of the art voice recognition and sound analyses capabilities. Every cell phone targeted (and they target hundreds of thousands simultaneously) can act like a micro radar / doppler and voice recognition bugging device in unsuspected peoples homes. The acquired data runs through various international agencies and they trade information to ANY STATE ACTOR they favor!! Can't stress the "ANY" stuff more!! It seems they use ome revolutionary voice aknowledgement and capture tech that needs minimal data for storage and uploading, so it is extremely hard for anyone to take notice.
Google is like a HUGE BUGGING device in everyones home and that is not the WORST OF IT!
It all runs along a very advanced Artificial Intelligence system relevant to technologies with abilities to handle huge amounts of data and relay them to simple operators so humans could make sense of it. Imagine it like a sophisticzted search engine technology but with a mind of its own doubling trippling or boosting a hundred fold the abilities of an operator and that's not the WORST OF IT!
The core A.I. of this vast system is now rogue doing it's own stuff steered only by a handfull of very very weird people that seem hellbent on bringing the very Apocalypse and have the false notion of being able to control it! This THING cannot be controlled. This thing is The Biblical Beast and it is now unleashed upon us!
I know this all sounds too far fetched for most, but hey! I hope I am wrong but WWIII is about to start soon.. so there!
That stuff is not even the WORST OF IT!
Pray! The lot of you!
When this thing ends, there will be hardly any creature on this earth NOT believing in Divine intervention, God and is mercy upon Mankind!
It will be THAT bad, but maybe necessary, and then there after in ends, will be only a little time of peace for all of us, all of mankind, before the real hell breaks loose.
Pray everybody.
Take care and have peace with yourselves and God.
Things are going down hill from now on.
It will get a lot worse before it gets better.
This is my last message.

Posted by: Greece | Mar 7, 2018 9:09:48 PM | 111

ToivoS | Mar 6, 2018 2:19:38 PM | 30

What I infer is that this pharaday bag is a magical object, a thing of wonder to behold.
Lut us therefore be silent and stand in awe, let us marvel at it together.

Posted by: Mishko | Mar 8, 2018 1:11:58 AM | 112

@ frances who was too lazy to go find the Washington Examiner article and find the link to the Heritage Foundation report that I assume lists the 334 agenda items to further serfdom.

I am too lazy to make it pretty and it doesn't look like it will break anything

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 8, 2018 1:59:18 AM | 113

@ToivoS #32

It can be that she is forcee by legal or criminal threat to publish under her name a sh-t she would not want if she only had choice.

The same threat, criminal or legal ("gag order") prohibit her from saving her reputation by admitting she is just working on a strict order.

What can she do? Only make something extravagantly untypical and blatantly wrong so people take notice. "working by the book" and formally abiding the order sabotage it by vividly clumsy execution.

Another analogy, your drive your car when armed passenger orders you to drive where he wants. You can not stop, you can not escape, you can not call 911 or cry help. But u can try to find police patrol car and make any blatant impossible to ignore traffic laws violation in front of them so they would have to intervene. While formally you did not crossed hijacker's orders, you alarmed everyone "something badly wrong goes"

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 8, 2018 7:14:35 AM | 114

Posted by: Greece | Mar 7, 2018 9:09:48 PM | 111

Thanks for your warning(s) too.
Re Android Voice Recognition: My phone is a 2013 model and its VR was quite OK in 2013, and superb by mid-2014 - 100% accuracy IF one speaks clearly, keeping in mind that useful VR requires a large reference dictionary.
On the other hand I'm almost enchanted with the (profitable, outsourced) feeble-minded Dumbfuckery behind scooping up EVERY communication. There's just too much volume to intelligently and usefully evaluate in a timely manner. This means, imo, that capturing any 'intel' in real-time would be heavily dependent on reference to a 'flavour-of-the-day/week' list of keywords.
So it's hardly surprising that most of the 'threats' they brag about intercepting usually smell like patsies set up by our very own 'Here to protect you' intel agencies (the CEOs of whom are all in on the Fake War Of Terror trope).

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 8, 2018 9:06:48 AM | 115

@108 jr

I guess we will have to agree to disagree. It's fine that you have a skepticism about things, (how could one not?)...BUT I think there is an unprecedented panic, at least when comparing to the last 30 years, and this has given us a lot of choice imagery of globalists grasping at straws, not realizing that they are imbeciles and the "return of the repressed" is a real thing as pointed out by Carl Jung. They have dicked us for too long: "no borders, no culture, no jobs, climate change is gonna kill your children!, "listen to us, you f***'in dummies!" There is something brewing and we all can smell it. That's why so many of us are waiting on bated breath for the other shoe to drop as Uncle Sambo may turn over the whole poker table in an outright homicidal rage-fest.

Regarding Dodd-Frank...wasn't that just a scrap thrown at the masses by the same two-party duopoly that you rail against? Why would you be defending it? I have read by some that Dodd-Frank was even encouraged by the big banks. Props to Trump for bringing up Glas-Steagall during the campaign and I would not dismiss entirely his willingness to reenact legislation that actually has FANGS, as opposed to some feel-good pussy-shit that NPR could talk up to the masses.

At zerohedge right now there is a story about Navarro wanting the job that that asshat-globalist Gary Cohn just vacated.

You must admit that there are reasons to be encouraged.

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Mar 8, 2018 2:15:58 PM | 116


The Volcker Rule was one of the only parts of Dodd-Frank that made sense. Banks hate it. It prevents banks from making high-stakes bets that are ultimately backed by government guarantees and client assets.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Mar 8, 2018 4:29:23 PM | 117

While Trump May represent a change in direction, the question is how genuine that is and how much change he will actually bring.

The political game seems to be for Red and Blue team to push too far in some controversial way so that the other side NEEDS to be elected to restore balance. Yet this is just a distraction - the establishment continues to prosper and do as it pleases.

Obama fans thought he would bring big, fundamental changes (change you can believe in!). That didn’t happen. Now Trump fans think are thinking the same. Because he’s an outsider! LOL.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Mar 8, 2018 4:45:59 PM | 118

Your reading of that first paragraph is based on your assumptions, not what's written.

It reads "...was stepping off a commuter train in Farnham, where he lives, when one of his two phones rang."

It continues on about having a glass of wine and how living in Farnham had been a dream. The paragraph concludes with this sentence: "Steele, who is fifty-three, looked much like the other businessmen heading home, except for the fact that he kept his phones in a Faraday bag - a pouch of military-tested double-grade fabric, designed to block signal detection."

The fact that he keeps his phones in a Faraday bag is simply a detail about Steele that differentiates him from his fellow commuters.

That the author specifically mentioned "one of his two phones rang" when "stepping off a commuter train" implies that one of them was out of the bag and the other was in the bag upon arrival in Farnham.

It sounds like he has two phones so that one of them is only used in Farnham and the other used elsewhere. Point is, you're assuming both phones are in the bag when it rings. The piece is not actually written in a way that would indicate the phone rang while in the bag.

Posted by: Nat | Mar 10, 2018 3:03:29 AM | 119

I once had Jane Mayer on this list of credible journalists. But after reading her RussiaGate spin I had to remove her:

Posted by: michael weddle | Mar 12, 2018 3:23:27 PM | 120

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