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Kash’s Corner: Misinformation, Disinformation, and the 7 Biggest Media Failures in Recent Memory

“The headlines that were driven from these media cycles, be it that Trump is a ‘white supremacist’ or Brett Kavanaugh is a ‘gang rapist’—those headlines are forever. And many people don’t dial behind those headlines,” Kash says.

On Kash’s Corner, Kash and Jan discuss disinformation, misinformation, and the biggest false stories in the legacy media in recent years.

This is the end of the first season of Kash’s Corner, and we’ll have a lot more new and exciting content for you in Season Two, coming in a few weeks!

Kash Patel: Hello, everybody, and welcome back to Kash’s Corner. If you can believe it, we’re already at episode ten, the last episode of season one. And Jan and I were thinking, “What are we going to talk about today?” What did we come up with?

Jan Jekielek: It’s incredible. It’s actually episode 10. I feel like we were just kind of getting warmed up here. I was looking at this recent Gallup poll, which reminded me of the sorry state of media today. The numbers, I have them right here.

In 2020, there was 18 percent confidence in television media, 24 percent confidence in newspapers. And by 2021, that’s actually gone down to 16 percent and 21 percent. These are some of the lowest numbers that have ever existed for media.

Mr. Patel: I think that’s just a national tragedy in so many ways, because the media is supposed to educate the American public about what’s going on in its government.

Mr. Jekielek: Back in 2015, I remember sitting in The Epoch Times newsroom and just being stunned at how similar the headlines would be across multiple media around something that was happening with the Trump campaign.

The thing that I remember really distinctly is, I think it was perhaps Scott Adams that actually dubbed it “the fine people” hoax, when this whole the Charlottesville tragedy happened, there was this narrative that came out that said that Trump had said there were fine people on both sides, the protestors and the white supremacists.

Mr. Patel: I’m glad you brought this up, because it’s the best example of something that certain components of media wanted to be true, and they intentionally chopped up the quote to make sure it met a media narrative end that they wanted to be true and turned out to be false.

Mr. Jekielek: It’s incredible, because it’s actually not even that long a clip. It’s a pretty short statement where President Trump denounced the white supremacists unequivocally, and that just simply didn’t appear in a lot of media coverage.

Mr. Patel: And if you remember, that false line that President Trump failed to denounce white supremacists kept repeating itself over and over again, over the year. It happened so much so that during one of the presidential debates, the moderator even continued the misinformation by stating, “You did not denounce white supremacy then. Will you do it now?” That’s literally what she said. It’s totally false.

Mr. Jekielek: Today, I want to look at how the trust in the media has eroded over time. So why don’t we just look at some of these moments in recent media history. And, of course, the major one is one that you were a big part of exposing.

Mr. Patel: Right, the Russiagate hoax.

Mr. Jekielek: Right.

Mr. Patel: Many have called it the biggest political scandal since Watergate.

Mr. Jekielek: And this is one of these things where this wasn’t just one story. Of course, there was the Steele dossier, right? Which was a piece of opposition research. I keep thinking about this. We keep using these words “misinformation” and “disinformation” so casually. Maybe it’s actually a good idea just to kind of mention what each one means.

Mr. Patel: Yes, that would be very good.

Mr. Jekielek: So misinformation is a sort of unintentional sharing of information which isn’t true. Disinformation would be intentional with some kind of political purpose or what people call propaganda sometimes. So, obviously, the Steele dossier was, I guess, a textbook example of disinformation.

Mr. Patel: Yes, it really was. I mean, it was the one thing that any journalist could have researched with very minimal resources, and come to a factual conclusion that the credibility of that document was at least borderline suspect. But it was propped up by so many in the media, because it was used to savage the campaign of President Donald Trump.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, in fact, this has been a bit of a theme, right? There are still people in America today that believe that the candidate, and then the president, is some kind of Russian operative.

Mr. Patel: You have to pause and ask yourself, was the former president of the United States in 2016 a white supremacist? You know, was the president of the United States in 2016 a Russian operative? Those two statements alone, if you believe either one of them or both of them, are offensive to almost every American.

Because that’s not how this country was founded, and that’s not how this country votes. But the fact that the media was able to cavalier those two incidences, and many more, and project some sort of false truth to those statements and many others is what has caused the media’s credibility to crater.

Mr. Jekielek: And this doesn’t just focus on President Trump.

Mr. Patel: No.

Mr. Jekielek: Another one was, of course, the confirmation hearings of Justice Kavanaugh. He was savaged, to use your term, with all sorts of allegations that were unproven. And then, as he was confirmed, it all just kind of disappeared, and there was no more discussion about it. That’s what I found to be so kind of bizarre.

Mr. Patel: Well, I think that’s a great example of not just one where there was a character assassination on an American based upon false information, but what I believe really ticked off a large portion of the American public was the hypocrisy of it all.

Because this was during the time of the #MeToo movement, which was taking on sexual misconduct and rightfully so. But if you are a Republican or a conservative and an appointee or seeking a position, one set of rules apply to your background investigation. Whereas, if you were a Democrat, a liberal, or something else, a different set of standards applied to attacking your character. And the Kavanaugh hearings just highlighted both those situations.

Mr. Jekielek: To be fair, I think there were a number of prominent Democrats taken down in the #MeToo, and Al Franken is one that comes to my mind off the top of my head.

Mr. Patel: Yes, you’re right.

Mr. Jekielek: But, just the scale and the ferocity, the immediate disappearance from the limelight.

Mr. Patel: Yes, and I agree with you. The Kavanaugh process, the Kavanaugh hearings, captured not just the attention of a nation, but almost a world, because it was President Trump’s appointee to sit on the United States Supreme Court. And then once Justice Kavanaugh was confirmed, the media was off looking for its next narrative, it’s next misinformation or disinformation piece that they could talk about.

Mr. Jekielek: This is the thing that really strikes me. If these journalists really believe that Kavanaugh did these things and was actually confirmed despite them, you would think there would be a lot of more work being done to try to unearth these realities, because it would be such a terrible travesty of justice if that were true.

Mr. Patel: If any candidate for any appointed office had committed the crimes, the allegations, that they were saying Justice Kavanaugh committed, I know I wouldn’t want them to hold that appointment, and I’m sure almost every single other American wouldn’t.

I think what Americans found to be a total miscarriage of justice is the two systems of justice that were set up, one for Kavanaugh and then the other one for everybody else, if you weren’t a Trump appointee for a high-level office position.

The headlines that were driven from these media cycles, be it that Trump is a white supremacist or Brett Kavanaugh is a gang rapist, those headlines are forever. And many people don’t dive behind those headlines and stay with the story to see what was actually uncovered.

And in just these two instances, those two were proven to be totally false. But there’s a significant portion of the American public and the world for that matter, that don’t know what the actual reality is because they haven’t gotten past the headline.

Mr. Jekielek: An example of something that is very much still outstanding is actually the Hunter Biden laptop. Right?

Mr. Patel: Yes

Mr. Jekielek: For all intents and purposes, we understand from New York Post reportings and some of our own verification, this a real thing.

Mr. Patel: Yes, and this is a great example of two things tying together about why we’re doing this today. One, there was an actual investigation into the son of a presidential candidate by the Department of Justice. And two, as a result of the media correctly, in this instance, reporting on that investigation, they were completely deplatformed.

If you remember, the New York Post, the longest running media publication in American history, started by Alexander Hamilton, was shut off of Twitter for almost two weeks, I believe completely. Because Twitter decided that they didn’t want the Post reporting on their platform.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, and if I recall, Glenn Greenwald actually left “The Intercept” over the story as well.

Mr. Patel: Yes. I mean, I think that’s a rare example of individuals like Glenn Greenwald, who don’t care about the political views of you or me or anyone. They care about their profession, the media, and being a journalist. And he was hammering against Twitter’s deplatforming of the New York Post, even though probably Glenn Greenwald, and I don’t know him, but I can guess he doesn’t politically agree with many of the things the New York Post puts out.

Mr. Jekielek: It’s kind of incredible. And I don’t want to overly dwell on this, but the information that the New York Post verified on this laptop was just explosive in all sorts of different ways. To this day, much of the country might be unaware that such a thing exists or imagines it to be a kind of a conspiracy theory.

Mr. Patel: And this is another example of why the media has lost their credibility. Because a story such as this laptop, Hunter Biden’s laptop, which was verified and given over to federal authorities to exploit that laptop and see what was in it, the rest of the media, once they saw that there was some veracity to this reporting, moved on to the next story and said, “Nothing to see here.”

And since there’s nothing to see here from 55, 60 percent of the media, most Americans have no idea what’s on that laptop or what’s going on with the Hunter Biden investigation.

Mr. Jekielek: It’s not just sins of commission, but sins of omission. So to speak, right?

Mr. Patel: Yes, I guess you’re right.

Mr. Jekielek: There was this story of the 50 intelligence officials saying that it was disinformation. I suppose once people realized that this was something that was getting some traction in social media perhaps.

Mr. Patel: Well, this is another tradecraft I think the media created. They would put out misinformation and disinformation. And then, once the veracity of it was proven to be false, meaning the opposite of what they put out [was true], they’d go out and get former government officials or high-level intelligence officers anonymously to substantiate their position without actually providing any details.

This media tradecraft that they created during the Trump election cycle and Trump presidency, I think, has further led to the downfall of media. The Hunter Biden laptop, as you cited, is just another example.

They came in with these 50 intelligence officers or 50 high-level defense officials, who came in and said, “That’s a valid story.” How would they know? They’re not in the FBI researching or exploiting that laptop. They have nothing to do with the investigation.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, this is another interesting thing. I don’t think they said exactly that they believed the laptop was fake, because how would they know, right? But I think they said the story, the concept, had all the earmarks of a Russian disinformation campaign, something like that if I recall correctly.

Mr. Patel: But that gets you the headline, right?

Mr. Jekielek: Right, yes.

Mr. Patel: If 50 former government officials come on and say, “Oh, this looks like misinformation, this looks like disinformation,” that’s the headline. “Hunter Biden laptop is disinformation or misinformation.” And again, most of the public won’t read past that headline, because that’s the headline they want to see and that’s the one that’s been propped up by mainstream media.

You know, Jan, I analogize this situation to what everyone refers to as the Trump Tower meeting. Here you have the sons of two presidential candidates and/or presidents, Hunter Biden and Don Jr.

And in the Trump Tower meeting, it’s now been universally proven that there was no discussion of a Russian conspiracy or money paid to the Russian government to help Donald Trump get elected.

But at the time of that incident, the media put out continuous headlines that made that collusion narrative that was pushed by so many, such as Adam Schiff, to be true, that so many individuals in the American public read that headline and thought it to be true, and years later, still do.

Here, again going back to something we were talking about earlier, you have the disparate treatment between two individuals, two sons of now two presidents. These two stories, the Hunter Biden story and the Trump Tower story involving Don Jr., exemplify why so many Americans have lost faith in the media.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, what comes to mind right now as we’re exploring this, we’ve got the Russian bounty story, right? It’s almost like how many of these stories are there?

Mr. Patel: The Russian bounty story to me is another personal one that I was actually in government, running the intelligence community for. And it’s the third sort of circle of Dante’s “Inferno” on this one, if you will. Basically, now you have the mainstream media politicizing the national security apparatus of the United States, which used to be the most apolitical system in government.

And as a former terrorism prosecutor, as a former civilian in the military, and a national security official who ran the Department of Defense, I just didn’t think that was ever possible by any components of the media. And the Russiagate bounty story, unfortunately, proved me wrong.

Mr. Jekielek: And just to be super briefly recap what the Russian bounty story was. Russia was basically accused of paying bounties to the Taliban for the killing of American soldiers. And, essentially, the past administration was doing nothing according to the story.

Mr. Patel: Right, and if you took that story as true, it’s one of the most explosive wartime stories in modern American history. But I and Rick Grenell were running the intelligence community at the time for President Trump. We had access to all of the classified information and everything that was very sensitive.

We knew, at the time, that someone leaked this information, not only unlawfully, but as misinformation. We knew the real story, that there was no veracity to that reporting. And that’s why no action was taken and rightfully so, because the story was false.

Mr. Jekielek: So just to be clear, someone provided some intelligence about something like this happening, but you assessed it and found it to be false.

Mr. Patel: Well, not to speak to the intelligence itself, because it’s still classified. But the Russia bountygate scandal is another story where I believe the media knew the information they were putting out. That by making this story true, when it wasn’t, I believe they knew it was false, but they knew it would garner a headline that would damage the interest of President Trump and conservatives, so they ran with it anyway.

And that’s what I was speaking to earlier about this new tradecraft the media developed, to go out and politicize the national security apparatus of the United States of America, which is something they accused me of doing personally when I was running the intelligence community and the Department of Defense, for President Trump. They accused President Trump and so many other individuals of doing that.

But the hypocrisy of it all, as we’ve laid out here, is that they themselves, the media, are putting out misinformation and disinformation. And we in the Trump administration at the time are unable to correct it because we don’t want to leak classified information. But I believe the Biden administration had to correct the record.

Mr. Jekielek: In this case, the Biden administration did correct the record. I believe an official basically said that it was “Detainee reporting, that they had low to moderate confidence,” and that’s my rough recollection.

Mr. Patel: Yes, they did. And for those folks who are wondering why we, at the DNI, when Rick and I were in charge, didn’t come out and immediately correct the record. It’s because we were in the habit of not disclosing classified information.

We were in the habit of doing our job and not politicizing the intelligence community. And it’s about time the Biden administration came out and corrected a false narrative that they ran with for so long.

Mr. Jekielek: This actually raises an interesting point. I’ve certainly heard a lot of people commenting on some of The Epoch Times stories and so forth: why don’t the people being accused defend themselves? You’re telling me it’s because you don’t wanna leak classified information?

Mr. Patel: Yes. I mean, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been falsely accused in the media. And I don’t just jump out there and correct the record, because to do so would require a disclosure of classified information, and I’m not going to do that.

Mr. Jekielek: So what do you do in this kind of situation?

Mr. Patel: You fight back through the legal process as I’m doing, and you take people to court, take media companies to court, for defamation and force an unclassified disclosure of the truth. And that just takes time and money.

Mr. Jekielek: I think when some of these stories come out, Kash, there’s a lot of frustration among people, or at least some people that we get commentary from. Like, for example, why did we not know this story earlier when, for example, it seemed like you knew the truth yourself, right? Why is that?

Mr. Patel: Well, that’s a great point. And it puts us in a difficult position, right? Again, at the same time, Rick and I were briefing the president and running the intelligence community for him, and we had access to all of the classified information that was coming into the U.S. government. Very sensitive to somewhat sensitive to unclassified.

Our job, our mission, at the time, was to protect the U.S. That’s the only mission that matters when you’re in defense or intelligence. And we provided the president and the leaders of our government with the information they needed to do their jobs and carry out that mission.

For us to go out and leak classified information just so we could correct a false media narrative was not our job. We weren’t gonna take the bait and go tit for tat, and disclose classified information ourselves just to prove that we were right. We knew that we were right, and we had made the right decision in briefing the president of the United States and his cabinet.

Mr. Jekielek: So this actually makes me think of another example of a story which the government came out to correct: the clearing of Lafayette Square during the BLM protests in front of the White House.

Mr. Patel: Yes. Unfortunately, this is another incident where media headlines got it totally wrong. Most of them probably knew they had it wrong and went with it anyway just because it would tarnish President Trump’s administration.

President Trump walked out of the White House and across the street with some of the senior cabinet officials, something obviously very unprecedented, to calm the situation for both D.C. and the nation. And went across the street through Lafayette Park and stood in front of a church and asked the nation to protest peacefully and end the rioting and the looting.

And the media seized upon that opportunity to say President Trump cleared Lafayette Park with the Department of Defense and the military, so that he could walk through as a political campaign stunt, which was totally false. Having worked for President Trump, having run his counterterrorism, his intelligence community, and his Department of Defense, I know he would never issue such an order to use the United States military to clear protesters out of a park.

And I think many in the media knew that to be true as well, but because of the tradecraft they had built up over these last years, that they were able to run again with another false narrative that President Trump used the military and armed individuals to clear U.S. citizens from Lafayette Park. But as we now know from the inspector general, it turned out not to be true.

Mr. Jekielek: And just for the record, for those that might not be aware, this IG report found that the park actually had been cleared by the Park Service in order to set up a perimeter.

Mr. Patel: That’s correct. So President Trump had nothing to do with it and neither did the military.

Mr. Jekielek: Then there’s this whole story about COVID origins. We reported on this back in April 2020. We reported that the Wuhan lab origin of coronavirus was a plausible scenario. There was a ton of media reporting, and not just media, even in scientific journals and so forth, opinions being offered, that it was just simply impossible. And then it shifted somehow.

Mr. Patel: Yes. I think this story sort of closes the circle or the journey we’ve just taken throughout this episode on how damaging the media has become, not only to the national security process, but how damaging the media has become for the American public. They just don’t know who to trust anymore. And this last story that you’re talking about highlights both those things.

Mr. Jekielek: What’s also interesting about this story is that there is a very, very strong disinformation push that’s coming from communist China, from the Chinese Communist Party. Most recently, they basically declared that they will not allow any kind of international investigation that even has the Wuhan lab origin on the table.

Mr. Patel: That’s right. They actually sternly rebuked the Biden administration recently in a meeting with high-level Chinese officials about access to any investigations regarding the Wuhan lab. And I think that speaks volumes to the level or possible involvement of the Chinese government, intentionally or accidentally, in the outbreak of the worst plague in the last 100 years.

When we put out information, at the time, that it was possible that the virus came from this lab, the media should have done a better job in relying on our credibility, in the intelligence community’s credibility, and didn’t just because it was under President Trump. But it took them almost a year to come around to the possibility that, not only were we right, but that it’s more likely than not that’s what happened.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, here we are. We’re here in July of 2021, and there’s general distrust in institutions and arguably historic distrust in media.

Mr. Patel: Jan, as we sum up here, whether we’re talking about Russia bounty story, whether we’re talking about the origins of Wuhan virus, whether we’re talking about the Kavanaugh hearings, or whether we’re talking about the fine people hoax, the Russiagate hoax, or Hunter Biden’s laptop, you have a series of stories that were portrayed by the media that impacted presidential elections, the national security of America, and, ultimately, destroyed the credibility of the mainstream media because they got so much of it wrong.

And so many of those times they got it wrong intentionally. That’s what’s caused such a bankruptcy in the credibility of our media today, and it needs to be fixed.

Mr. Jekielek: The thing that is really painful to me about all of this is that it’s just like the search for truth has been lost. Not everywhere, and I just want to say this, too: in many of these corporate or mainstream media, there are journalists that are still doing real journalism, right? It’s not blanket, right? But on any of these issues that have this potential for a high politicization or have the potential for scoring political points, that’s where it seems to be the most common, at least from the examples that we just discussed.

Mr. Patel: I think you’re 100 percent right.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, episode 10, it’s the end of our first season. Again, I can’t believe it. Time for our shout outs.

Mr. Patel: I have two shout outs, if you’ll indulge me. One is to Jan and the entire team at The Epoch Times for making Kash’s Corner a reality. I can’t believe we’re doing this, and we’re at episode 10, and I look forward to season two.

My second shout out, and I have to go back to a core of individuals that are very important to me in my career. That’s my team from uncovering the Russiagate days.

So I just wanna thank individuals like Chairman Devin Nunes, journalists such as Lee Smith, and filmographers such as Amanda Milius, and my team at the House Intelligence Committee for being a part of the journey and letting me come along the ride. And I look forward to chatting with some of those folks next season.

Well, everybody, thanks for joining us for the first season of Kash’s Corner. We hope you stay tuned for next season coming in just a few short weeks.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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