Just a bit ago, I mocked MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow for her convoluted allegation that Trump may have sent MSNBC fake documents implicating himself in regards to Russia.

For details, please see Rachel Maddow Accuses Trump of Planting Fake Documents Implicating Trump

Glen Greenwald at The Intercept also challenges Maddow. Greenwald offers substantial evidence that Maddow’s event timeline is full of holes.

Greenwald politely writes Rachel Maddow’s Exclusive “Scoop” About A Fake NSA Document Raises Several Key Questions.

MSNBC’S Rachel Maddow devoted the first 21 minutes of her Thursday night program to what she promoted as an “exclusive” scoop. The cable news host said that someone had sent her a “carefully forged” top secret NSA document that used a top secret document The Intercept reported on and published on June 5 as a template. That document – from the June 5 Intercept report – was from an unknown NSA official, and purported to describe Russian attempts to hack election officials and suppliers.

Maddow said her report should serve as a “heads up” to other news organizations that someone is attempting to destroy the credibility of those who report on Trump’s connections to Russia by purposely giving them false information. She suggested, without stating, that this may have been what caused CNN and  other outlets recently to publish reports about Trump and/or Russia that ended up being retracted.

The grave tone of cloak-and-daggers mystery Maddow used to tell her story was predicated on her time-line of events. If it were the case that MSNBC had received the purportedly forged version of this document before the Intercept published its own version, that would indeed be a major story. That would mean that the person who sent the forgery to MSNBC was one of a relatively small group of people who would have had access to this top secret document.

But that’s not what happened. By Maddow’s own telling, MSNBC received the document two days after the Intercept published it for the entire world to see. That means that literally anyone with internet access could have taken the document from the Intercept’s site, altered it, and sent it to Maddow.

Nobody from Maddow’s show or MSNBC reached out to the Intercept before running this story. This was odd for many reasons, including the fact that Maddow offered several speculative theories about the Intercept’s reporting on the document, including her belief that a crease that appeared on the document sent to her was the same as the crease which the Trump DOJ, in its affidavit, claimed appeared on the Intercept’s document.

Had MSNBC sought comment from the Intercept before broadcasting this story, they would have learned that the sole piece of evidence on which their entire theory was predicated – the time-stamp that preceded the Intercept’s publication by a few hours – strongly suggests that whoever sent them the document did not have special, early, pre-publication access to it, but rather took it from the Intercept’s site.

While it is of course possible that there is some widespread, coordinated, official effort to feed news outlets false information in order to discredit stories about Trump and Russia, there is no real evidence for that theory, and this story does not offer any. Maddow’s warnings about the need for caution and authentication are important ones, but if – as seems likely – the document MSNBC received was sent by someone who got it from the Intercept’s site, then the significance of this story seems very minimal, and the more ominous theories her report raises seem to be baseless.

Maddow needs a new theory. I can help.

Theory #1: Maddow Thesis Explaining Timestamp

  • The Intercept received documents showing Trump’s involvement.
  • The Trump organization or someone acting on behalf of Trump, stole those documents off The Intercept server before The Intercept published the story.
  • Someone then cleverly changed the timestamp to match The Intercept’s publish time. This step was necessary so The Intercept does not realize its servers are constantly compromised.
  • In an effort to trap MSNBC, the Trump organization modified the documents to point directly at someone in the Trump organization.
  • MSNBC was brilliant because it fell for none of this. 

Theory #2

Someone acting to discredit Trump is throwing mud hoping to start multiple simultaneous investigations that just might uncover something. 

Theory #3

This has nothing to do with anything in particular. Someone wanted to see how gullible MSNBC is. Why not? In doing so, they caught MSNBC in a roundabout way because MSNBC failed to contact The Intercept then ridiculously over-dramatized the whole affair. 

Theory #4

MSNBC created the fake documents then sent them to itself to get this alleged scoop.

Maddow’s Fake Drama

Maddow made no mention that Democrats or anyone anti-Trump else may have sent that document to MSNBC.

I explained in Rachel Maddow Accuses Trump of Planting Fake Documents Implicating Trump

No Mention of Democratic Mud-Slinging

Apparently, there is no chance that Democrats or someone acting to discredit Trump are throwing mud hoping to start multiple simultaneous investigations that just might uncover something.

Merits of Being Open-Minded 

I repeat my sarcastic Tweet.

While pretending to have an open mind that “Trump may have been involved”, Maddow’s reporting was clearly disguised to plant the notion Trump is in fact behind this conspiracy.

Skepticism

Mike “Mish” Shedlock