Durham Indictment Is ’Bad News’ For Those Media Outlets That Peddled Steele Dossier - Report

© AP Photo / Victoria JonesFILE - This Tuesday, March 7, 2017 file photo shows Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent who set up Orbis Business Intelligence and compiled a dossier on Donald Trump, in London
FILE - This Tuesday, March 7, 2017 file photo shows Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent who set up Orbis Business Intelligence and compiled a dossier on Donald Trump, in London - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.11.2021
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Last week’s indictment of Igor Danchenko secured by special counsel John Durham, who was appointed by the Trump administration to investigate the motives behind the Russian probe, charged Steele over false statements made to the FBI.
Washington Post press critic Erik Wemple warned media outlets Monday that they face a “steep journalistic challenge” to back up their initial reporting on the Steele dossier — following recent revelations from the Durham investigation.
Wemple, who has long been critical of the media's hyping of the Steele dossier, highlighted the involvement of Democratic operative and Clinton ally Charles Dolan Jr., one of Danchenko's primary sources according to the indictment.

“The Danchenko indictment doubles as a critique of several media outlets that covered Steele’s reports in 2016 and after its publication by BuzzFeed in January 2017 … CNN, MSNBC, Mother Jones, the McClatchy newspaper chain and various pundits showered credibility upon the dossier without corroboration — and found other topics to cover when a forceful debunking arrived in December 2019 via a report from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz,” Wemple wrote in an op-ed.

The indictment brings doubt in the validity of the media’s past coverage of the dossier, and shifts the attention to Democrats’ involvement.
Of the news outlets mentioned, The Post, ABC News and the Wall Street Journal, reportedly told Wemple they were "reviewing" their past and potentially framed reporting on the dossier's involvement of Sergei Millian, the former president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce.
"News organizations may face a mismatch as they place their reporting alongside the indictment. Where the indictment relies on emails, interviews and other powerful investigative tools, the Journal’s initial scoop cited a single anonymous source. The sourcing for The Post’s reporting about Millian’s alleged conversation is unclear, while ABC News attributes its primary assertion to ‘a person familiar with the raw intelligence provided to the FBI,'" Wemple wrote.
"These news outlets now face a steep journalistic challenge — that of returning to their source(s) in an effort to back up the original claims that Millian was an unwitting source for the dossier. If that effort doesn’t produce enough evidence to surmount the allegations in the indictment, there’s only one option: Retract the stories. Allowing one version of events to sit awkwardly alongside another — and leaving it to the reader to decide — won’t cut it."
Hillary Clinton, then-Democratic presidential candidate, speaking at a campaign rally in Louisville, Kentucky in May 2016. - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.11.2021
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“Many indictments” are expected from Durham’s investigation, more so from former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, arguing that everyone involved in creating the dossier is in “jeopardy.”
“What happened with the Steele dossier, a grand jury is saying, was criminal in nature and I expect that all of the folks that are involved with creating it and peddling it falsely would be in jeopardy,” Ratcliffe told Fox News, “and I know that that’s what John Durham is looking at, and as I talked about, this goes to the highest levels of our government and government agencies involved.”
Former President Donald Trump repeatedly said the Steele dossier was completely fake and the allegations against him were made up by his opponent Hillary Clinton’s campaign to undermine his candidacy and presidency. Trump had described the effort to smear him based on false allegations as a political witch hunt.

Moscow has described the Steele dossier as media speculation. Russia has also repeatedly denied interfering in the US election, saying the allegations were made up to excuse the defeat of Trump's campaign opponent as well as deflect public attention from actual instances of electoral fraud and corruption.
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