Fox News and the conservative media ecosystem has been absolutely on fire this week over Special Counsel John Durham’s latest court filing, claiming his Friday night pretrial motion explicitly shows that former President Donald Trump was right all along that he was spied upon by Democrats.

“I was proven right about the spying, and I will be proven right about 2020,” Trump seethed in a Monday morning statement from his Save America PAC.

Since Fox News published a widely misleading article about the Durham filing, which suggests the special counsel’s filing says that Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign “infiltrated” Trump’s White House servers, the network has run wall-to-wall coverage declaring the “bombshell” story “bigger than Watergate” while chastising other media outlets for ignoring it.

Needless to say, Fox News’ own coverage of what it describes as a “massive scandal” has not only been largely exaggerated but has run the gamut from disingenuous to entirely false.

Durham, who was assigned by then-Attorney General William Barr in 2019 to investigate the probe of Trump and his allies’ ties to Russia, added a pleading on Friday to his case against Michael Sussmann, a lawyer with Democratic ties. The special counsel has accused Sussmann of lying during a September 2016 meeting with the FBI over Trump’s potential Russia links.

While Durham’s filing was essentially about possible conflicts of interest, the prosecutor also “slipped in a few extra sentences that set off a furor among right-wing outlets about purported spying” on Trump, as New York Times reporter Charlie Savage explained on Monday.

The prosecutor also recounted a February 2017 meeting between Sussmann and the CIA about seemingly strange cyber data suggesting the presence of Russian-made smartphones at Trump Tower and the White House. Durham also noted that Sussmann had obtained this data from his client Rodney Joffe, whose tech company Neustar serviced internet servers at the White House, alleging that Joffe and associates “exploited this arrangement” to gather dirt on Trump.

As Savage reported, Fox News and right-wing media have skewed what Durhams’s filing actually said. For one, despite what countless on-air segments and reports claimed, the special counsel never once used the word “infiltrate.” Additionally, Durham did not claim in the pleading that the tech firm was ever paid by the Clinton campaign.

Much of this confusion stemmed from Fox News reporter Brooke Singman’s early story on the Durham motion, which included the explosive headline “Clinton campaign paid to ‘infiltrate’ Trump Tower, White House servers to link Trump to Russia, Durham finds.” Those claims were not made by the special counsel but rather by Trump stooge Kash Patel, who seemingly went out of his way to mischaracterize the motion for Fox News.

And, indeed, the cable network ran with Patel’s over-the-top spin as the baseline for its coverage.

From Monday morning until the time of this article’s publication, Fox News has mentioned Hillary Clinton at least 90 times on the air. Durham has also been mentioned roughly 90 times and the network’s hosts and commentators have used the word “hacked” and “hacking” dozens of times. “Watergate” has also received 31 mentions.

Outside of lecturing mainstream news outlets over a supposed “media blackout” of the story, Fox News hosts appeared to be in a competition of one-upmanship on who could present the most over-the-top coverage of Durham’s motion.

During Jesse Watters’ 7 p.m. ET program on Monday, for instance, the Fox News host set the stage with on-air graphics blaring “CROOKED CAUGHT RED-HANDED” and “HILLARY IS THE REAL INSURRECTIONIST.”

From there, he also made a wildly false assertion that was not supported by the contents of Durham’s motion. “Durham’s documents show that Hillary Clinton hired people who hacked into Trump’s home and office computers before and during his presidency, and planted evidence that he colluded with Russia,” the MAGA-boosting host declared.

“Yeah, you heard that right. Hillary broke into a presidential candidate’s computer server and a sitting president’s computer server, spying on them,” he alleged. “There, her hackers planted evidence, fabricated evidence connecting Trump to Russia, then fed that doctored material to the feds and the media.”

Fox News star Tucker Carlson took it several steps further in the next hour, going so far as to revive the cruel Seth Rich conspiracy theory that eventually resulted in the network settling with the late DNC staffer’s family for a reported seven figures.

While declaring it “has been verified” that Trump was the victim of a Clinton plot, Carlson insisted that it “has never been true” that Russian operatives were responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee servers during the 2016 election. (Both the U.S. intelligence community and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe have found that Russia was behind the hacks.)

Unsubtly referencing Rich, who was murdered in 2016 and has since become the subject of unhinged conspiracy theories, Carlson said “the DNC emails were very clearly stolen from within the building, most likely by a Bernie Sanders supporter who wanted to show the world how Bernie Sanders was being shafted by the very same corrupt forces in Washington that later shafted Donald Trump.”

Furthermore, Carlson also displayed a stunning ignorance about the non-private DNS data that the tech firm had mined from 2014 through 2017, according to the Durham filing. “They’re intercepting internet traffic, they must be looking at email or text messages,” the far-right host proclaimed.

Later that night, Trump confidant and Fox News host Sean Hannity devoted most of his primetime show to blustering about Clinton, spying, and how this was—of course—worse than Watergate.

“In the age of the internet, you don’t need to break into a building to steal your opponents’ information, you just need access to their server,” Hannity huffed. “And that’s exactly what the Clinton campaign did. But here’s where this is even worse than Watergate.” He added: “Not only did they hack into the opposing campaign and steal material, like in the case of Watergate, but then they hacked into the office the president of this great country, according to Durham’s blockbuster filing late Friday!”

Yet, according to lawyers for David Dagon, a Georgia Institute of Technology data scientist involved with the data analysis, that information only came from Barack Obama’s presidency.

“What Trump and some news outlets are saying is wrong,” Dagon’s lawyers said. “The cybersecurity researchers were investigating malware in the White House, not spying on the Trump campaign, and to our knowledge all of the data they used was non-private DNS data from before Trump took office.”

Additionally, Durham’s case against Sussmann itself is extremely narrow and doesn’t appear to be very strong, according to national security experts. While Durham said Sussmann falsely told the FBI he didn’t have any clients during their 2016 meeting even though he was representing Clinton and Joffe, Sussmann denied saying that and insisted he was only representing the latter at the time.

Regardless of the increasingly fact-free nature of their spin, it doesn’t appear that Fox News is going to slow down with its “Trump was right” coverage anytime soon.

The ex-president’s favorite morning show Fox & Friends spent much of its three hours on Tuesday morning beating the drum on the story, complete with holding up a New York Post cover that blared “Hillary the Spy.”





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