The provenance of the document (about which the FISA Court was kept in the dark) strongly counsel against crediting its assertions. It is partisan opposition research generated for the purposes of a heated, acrimonious election campaign. Its allegations were leaked to the media for partisan purposes, and journalists, notwithstanding their unabashed anti-Trump biases, have not been able to corroborate it, either. We know that Steele, who is banned from entering Russia, relied on third- and fourth-hand hearsay from Russian sources who, for the most part, have not even been identified. And (as I’ve recounted here), Steele himself does not stand behind what he has written. In court proceedings, he has taken the position that the dossier is a collection of bits of “raw intelligence” that are “unverified” and “warranted further investigation” before anyone should have publicized or relied on them.
So the proponent of uncorroborated assertions, upon being sued for libel, has not just declined to defend them but has undercut their reliability. How could fair-minded people, then, repeat these allegations as if they had standing?
The president’s opposition has clearly decided there is no duty to be fair-minded in matters Trumpian. When I ask about this, there’s not so much a defense as a deflection: Well, is Trump’s commentary fair-minded? No, it’s often wrong and way over the top. But I’m not making Trump’s behavior the standard by which I measure mine, so it’s odd to me that people who detest him do so.