After the USA and UK came close to the previously unheard of experience of an international incident over claims made by conspiracy theorist Andrew Napolitano on Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) and subsequently echoed by the Trump gang’s press spokesman Sean Spicer, that GCHQ had acted on the orders of former President Barack Obama to spy on The Donald, the search was on for who first said it.
And as Zelo Street demonstrated earlier today, the claim can be traced back to another of those ill-advised Twitter excursions by (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch, who broached the idea of GCHQ involvement on January 7, and again 13 days ago. But to admit this would be to embarrass Creepy Uncle Rupe with revelations that a News Corp Vice-President was involved - at a sensitive time for him.
Murdoch, right now, is in the throes of trying to get his bid for the 61% of broadcaster Sky that he does not yet own past Ofcom, to which agency Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has referred it. There is also the matter of a “fit and proper persons” test to overcome for son James, who left the authorities unimpressed last time he passed before their inspection. So, by complete coincidence you understand, the Sun came to his rescue.
After running “‘COMPLETE AND UTTER NONSENSE’ White House claim Brit spooks were ordered to bug Donald Trump’s phone by then-President Obama dismissed as ‘nonsense’ by GCHQ”, and then “SORRY FOR SPICER White House issues grovelling apology to Downing Street for falsely accusing GCHQ of spying on Donald Trump”, the paper’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn had a convenient exclusive.
Under the headline “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE KIDDING? Russia is ‘behind’ the White House’s wild claim that GCHQ tapped Donald Trump’s office, say top spies”, Newton Dunn claims “THE Kremlin was behind the White House’s wild claim that GCHQ spied on Donald Trump, spymasters believe … An investigation by the Cheltenham-based eavesdropping agency has discovered the accusation was initially made by a Russian fake news blog”. Do we have a reliable citation for that highly creative claim?
Well, no we don’t. But we are told “President Vladimir Putin’s henchmen are notorious for the black propaganda trick of spreading untrue but highly damaging claims on the internet”. Oh, and “An intelligence source told The Sun: ‘We have identified the site where the claim was first made … The whole incident bears all the hallmarks of the Russians. It’s a shame people who should know better fell for it’”.
And to that I call bullshit. It does not take GCHQ to “identify the site”. As Media Matters has noted, Russian Government-backed broadcaster RT first suggested GCHQ was behind it all on March 6. That would be AFTER Louise Mensch’s SECOND Twitter excursion suggesting the agency’s involvement. Newton Dunn is talking out of the back of his neck.
But he is diverting attention from a News Corp Vice-President and dumping conveniently on the Russians, which just happens to help his boss, so that’s all right, then.