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Washington Post Writer: ‘No Evidence’ of Collusion Between Trump and Russia

© Flickr / Bill WalshWashington Post headquarters
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Controversial political activist James O’Keefe secretly recorded a conversation with Washington Post staff writer on the Russiagate investigation Adam Entous. Speaking candidly, Entous admitted there was no evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia and expressed skepticism that there was collusion at all.

"Our reporting has not taken us to a place where I would be able to say with any confidence that the result of it is going to be the president being guilty of being in cahoots with the Russians," Entous told O'Keefe in one of the conservative activist's hidden camera exposes. "There's no evidence of that that I've seen so far."

"We've seen a lot of flirtation, if you will, between them but nothing that, in my opinion, would rank as actual collusion. Now that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist, it just means we haven't found it yet. Or maybe it doesn't exist."

The general online reaction to the video is that Entous behaved with integrity, claiming that there was no decisive evidence of collusion and that while it was possible, it could also be a "crapshoot" — expressing the healthy skepticism of a journalist, in other words.

The problem is not so much what Entous said as who it's coming from: Entous writes about national security, foreign policy and intelligence for a mainstream outlet that has arguably acted as the standard bearer for the Russiagate narrative — that the Trump campaign and Trump White House have been colluding with Russian actors since day one.

​The Post's editorial board runs daily articles pushing this narrative, and Entous' reporting has reinforced it. "Trump's company had more contact with Russia during campaign, according to documents turned over to investigators," reads one of his headlines from October. "Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador, US intelligence intercepts show," is another he wrote in July.

The Post has also been caught in falsehoods about Russia in the recent past. In November 2016, they published an article with a then-explosive headline: "Russian propaganda effort helped spread 'fake news' during election, experts say."

​These "experts" included PropOrNot, an organization that claims to be dedicated to rooting out Russian propaganda in media but has been roundly slammed — including by progressive left-wing and other mainstream outlets — as a gang of conspiracy theorists who slam any outlet that deviates from the mainstream — from progressive public policy organization ThinkProgress to uber-popular conservative news aggregator Drudge Report — as a Russian shill.

The Post was forced to add a lengthy editor's note to the beginning of the story, stressing that they did not "vouch for the validity of PropOrNot's findings" — yet they still cited them as "experts" in an article. Yep.

In January 2017, they claimed that a Vermont power company had been purposefully disrupted by Russian hackers based on the incredibly flimsy evidence that a laptop that belonged to the power grid's maintenance company, Burlington Electric, had a similar piece of malware on it as ones used by Russian hacking groups.

The only problems with that story was that the laptop wasn't connected to the power grid and that there was no evidence that the malware was placed on the laptop by Russian hackers or indeed by anyone with malicious intent. Not that these gaping inaccuracies stopped the Post from hastily printing an article titled "Russian hackers penetrated US electricity grid through a utility in Vermont, US officials say," of course.

The Post was roundly criticized for not only printing a false article, but for significantly altering it after publication and waiting another half day to add an editorial note mentioning the corrections to the article. "An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Russian hackers had penetrated the US electric grid. Authorities say there is no indication of that so far. The computer at Burlington Electric that was hacked was not attached to the grid," the end of the article once read.

Now it ends with this line: "Adam Entous contributed to this report."

Any disclosures from O'Keefe, of course, must be taken with a fistful of salt, as he has been caught in falsehoods and manipulative behavior to better suit conservative narratives before. Earlier in November, O'Keefe and his Project Veritas organization were accused of trying to trick The Post into publishing a fake story about a woman who claimed Republican Alabama US Senate candidate Roy Moore raped her as a teenager.

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The Post realized that the woman was in all likelihood a plant for Project Veritas and exposed the would-be sting. O'Keefe was roundly criticized, including by major conservative publications.

Media figures have largely come to Entous' defense online, with variations on journalist Glenn Greenwald's reaction, that Entous "expresses exactly the caution, skepticism and clinging to evidence that any good journalist, by definition, would be guided by."

If only more of them were guided by this ethic in their work.

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