01:39 GMT +315 December 2018
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    In this Wednesday, May 3, 2017, photo then-FBI Director James Comey pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing

    A Swing and a Miss: Former FBI Director Comey Tries to Slam ‘Sputnick’

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    Former FBI Director James Comey joined a chorus of Americans Monday night after the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, Finland. Comey tweeted that US President Donald Trump “sold out” America at the meeting and directed low blows toward US journalists and Russian media that didn’t quite land.

    "Having sold out our nation on an international stage, Mr. Trump will now explain it all to Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson?" the disgraced director tweeted. "I'm guessing RT and Sputnick [sic] were unavailable. He owes it to our nation to sit down with a serious journalist."

    Beyond the obvious misspelling of yours truly — Sputnik News International is named after the Sputnik 1 satellite, the first successful satellite ever launched in 1957 — there is a bit to unpack from Comey's remarks. Meanwhile, Comey's grandstanding was not lost on the Twitterverse.

    Perhaps the former FBI director fancies himself a news director, since he's now calling the shots on who is and who isn't a good reporter.

    One might think Comey, given his attention to news networks RT and Sputnik, would be familiar at this point with the spelling of the latter. He, alongside former CIA Director John Brennan, ex-NSA Director Michael Rogers and bigoted former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, briefed Trump on the Director of National Intelligence report on "Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections."

    That report devoted roughly half of its length to RT's coverage of US politics. "RT and Sputnik… consistently cast President-elect Trump as the target of unfair coverage from traditional US media outlets that they claimed were subservient to a corrupt political establishment," it said, adding that the networks "contributed to the influence campaign" of Russia alongside "quasi-government trolls."

    Despite widespread allegations that RT and Sputnik, which receive funding from the taxpayers of the Russian Federation, favored then-candidate Donald Trump, there is no tangible evidence supporting those claims. Both have bureaus in the US staffed by American journalists. RT and Sputnik News editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan stated unequivocally that "RT did not support Trump" in a an interview with CBS News' Lesley Stahl. "Our fault is that RT did not support Hillary [Clinton] either," she said, describing an unbiased approach to journalism, the type of independence once ubiquitously hailed by American pundits. 

    During the 2016 US presidential campaign, Sputnik News did not interview any candidates while RT interviewed Bernie Sanders on three occasions. However, Trump did grant his longtime buddy Larry King one phone call for a segment produced by King's Ora TV, which was then broadcast by RT, in which Trump suggested that the alleged Russian hack of the DNC was a narrative concocted by the Democrats.

    But even that interview was far from amicable. After Trump told King, "I hope that if they are doing something, I hope that somebody is going to be able to find out, so they can end it, because that would not be appropriate at all," King pressed Trump on his "feelings on Mexican immigrants" and the candidate hung up on the interview. 

    Fox News is undoubtedly the preferred network of the president. Many of his appointees are alumni or former commentators of the station (State Department spokeswoman Heather Nuart; US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell; National Security Advisor John Bolton, and others). Trump decided to grant the conservative Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson each an interview after the Helsinki summit. He is also scheduled to be interviewed by CBS newsman Jeff Glor on Wednesday.

    "Does anyone have any doubts as to why this partisan scumbag was fired?" Daniel McAdams, executive director of the Ron Paul institute, tweeted at Comey on Tuesday. "This dude IS the swamp!"

    "When was the last time Comey sat down for an extended interview with a critical journalist?" one of McAdams' followers questioned in a reply. Months after Comey's firing he sat down with ABC News host George Stephanopoulos to promote his book "A Higher Loyalty," and has also gave a softball interview to a reporter in Berlin, Germany.

    Moreover, many on Twitter took exception to Comey's insinuation that Carlson and Hannity are not real journalists. "Tucker Carlson is the only person who didn't approve of Trump bombing Syria over the biggest BS story I've ever seen," one tweeted. The US justified that provocation with "social media indicators" of a chemical weapons attack by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, widely believed to have been furnished by the USAID- and UK-funded White Helmets.

    Indeed, Carlson has repeatedly pushed back on war hawks in the Trump administration and neoconservative prescriptions for US foreign policy since Trump was elected.

    "This is the most pathetic tweet I have read in a few hours," tweeted Jamie Glazov, editor of the right-wing Frontpage Magazine, apparently opting to avoid hyperbole in a move breaking from US media tradition of the past two years. "John Brennan's was also extremely pathetic."

    Brennan tweeted that Trump's meeting with Putin was "treasonous," Sputnik News reported. Trump is "wholly in the pocket of Putin," Brennan said, saying the president's performance "exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.'"

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    Russiagate, Comey, Russia, James Comey
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