Monday was a crazy day in the US, with the head of the FBI denying any Obama wiretap on Donald Trump or his campaign, and making clear the bureau was continuing to probe links between Russia and the Trump campaign during the election. It has to be remembered that those links have already cost Trump his first choice for national security adviser, Mike Flynn, who has since been exposed as having close financial links (including payments) to Turkey as well. And now, it seems, Russophilia has struck again, this time felling a favourite talking head from the Murdoch stable.

Remember that Trump first dug the hole he was in by quoting reports on Fox News and on the right-wing “fantasy” news website Breitbart (which was run by his chief adviser, Steve Bannon) to support his “Obama hacked me claims”. Last Friday, he doubled down on those claims by claiming that he had not said the word “wiretapped”, but had been quoting someone else, a “talented legal mind”, as he put it, Andrew Napolitano, in answer to a question at a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about claims that Trump had been wiretapped by British agency, the GCHQ (the UK equivalent of Americas NSA).

 “That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox [News]. And so you shouldn’t be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox,” said Trump.

But Fox News host Shepard Smith denied on Friday that his network has information validating Napolitano and Trump’s claims after the president’s remarks. “Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano’s commentary,” he said. “Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-President of the United States was surveilled at any time in any way. Full stop.”

Rupert Murdoch, who still runs Fox News (despite the removal last July of Roger Ailes as head of the network following sexual harassment charges) has since been made to admit that Napolitano was sprouting dangerous rubbish — lies, in fact, sourced from Russian media. And, as a result, Murdoch has suspended him from the network. Fake news! — Glenn Dyer

 

Peter Fray

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