When Sean Spicer quoted Fox News’ Andrew Napolitano saying that his sources said Obama farmed out the wiretapping of Donald Trump to the British version of the NSA, it touched off a diplomatic brouhaha. Now we find out that Napolitano’s source was a disgraced former CIA agent.
But Mr. Napolitano’s unlikely leap into global politics can be explained by his friendship with Mr. Trump, whom he met with this year to discuss potential Supreme Court nominees. Mr. Napolitano also has a taste for conspiracy theories, which led him to Larry C. Johnson, a former intelligence officer best known for spreading a hoax about Michelle Obama.
Let’s back up. The saga began on Tuesday on “Fox & Friends,” the chummy morning show, where Mr. Napolitano made a bizarre and unsupported accusation: Citing three unnamed sources, he said that Britain’s top spy agency had wiretapped Mr. Trump on behalf of President Barack Obama during last year’s campaign.
Cable news blather, especially at that hour, usually vanishes at the commercial break. But on Thursday, Mr. Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, repeated the claim from the White House podium, infuriating British officials.
On Friday, Fox News was forced to disavow Mr. Napolitano’s remarks. “Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano’s commentary,” the anchor Shepard Smith said on-air. “Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-president of the United States was surveilled at any time, any way. Full stop.”…But Mr. Johnson, who was himself once a Fox News contributor, said in a telephone interview that Mr. Napolitano called him on Friday and requested that he speak to The New York Times. Mr. Johnson said he was one of the sources for Mr. Napolitano’s claim about British intelligence.
Mr. Johnson became infamous in political circles after he spread false rumors in 2008 that Michelle Obama had been videotaped using a slur against Caucasians. In the interview on Friday, Mr. Johnson acknowledged his notoriety, but said that his knowledge of surveillance of Mr. Trump came from sources in the American intelligence community. Mr. Napolitano, he said, heard about his information through an intermediary.
So Napolitano didn’t even hear it first hand himself, and his source is completely lacking in credibility, but he went on national television and repeated it anyway. Then Spicer, with no fact-checking whatsoever — remember, Trump has the full power to find out if it happened or not by simply demanding answers from the intelligence services — repeated it himself on national television.
I know I sound like a broken record, but this once again shows just how little they care about accuracy. Whether anything they say is true or not is never given a moment’s thought. The only thing that matters is whether it supports their narrative or not. If it does, they’ll claim it and defend it to the death. Politicians lie, yes. We know that. But we’ve never seen anything quite like this. This is a level of pathological lying that even Nixon couldn’t achieve.