The American public will be getting quite an education in the coming weeks about the perfidy, corruption and treachery of the Obama Administration’s FBI, CIA and Director of National Intelligence (DNI) as documentary evidence comes to light showing that they plotted, schemed and lied to destroy Donald Trump and those associated with him. But they did not act alone—U.S. intelligence and law enforcement were empowered and enabled by a dishonest, compliant and incurious media.
The age of genuine investigative journalism—exemplified by the dogged reporting of giants like Seymour Hersh—is largely dead. There are some (Max Blumenthal, Matt Taibbi and Glen Greenwald come to mind) who try to do the honest, hard work of telling truth to a naïve, uninformed public. When they dare to challenge or attack the conventional wisdom these reporters are vilified for daring to probe topics or targets that the Washington, D.C. and New York City glitterati consider sacrosanct. The celebrities among the electronic and print media are lazy mediocrities like David Ignatius, Ellen Nakashima, Michael Isikoff, David Corn and David Folkenflik. They carry water for propagandists and rarely ask questions about issues that beg answers.
Which brings me to Mr. Edward Butowsky (“Ed” to his friends). Most of you have never heard of Ed Butowsky. But among the anti-Trump mob Ed is well known and stands falsely accused of being an integral member of an alleged conspiracy to name Seth Rich as the leaker of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails. He is also accused of being part of a broader plot to exonerate Donald Trump as a stooge of the Russians.
Ed’s journey to becoming one of the most reviled “conspiracy nuts” started with a simple act—he was asked by an intermediary of Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, to reach out to the parents of murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich. Ed was contacted in November 2016 by Ellen Ratner, a news analyst and former White House correspondent, whose brother, Michael Ratner, had been the lawyer for Assange. Ellen told Ed about her conversation with Julian in London in early November and explained that Julian was looking for someone to reach out to Seth’s parents and let them know that Seth provided the emails from the DNC and hoped this info might help in the murder investigation.
Ed’s account of Ellen’s knowledge of Wikileaks and Seth Rich is corroborated in a video of her comments during a panel discussion at a Florida college shortly after Trump was elected. Rattner says that she met with Julian Assange in London on November 5, 2016 and Assange was emphatic in denying that Wikileaks obtained the DNC emails from a Russian cyber operation. Rattner said the culprit was an insider aligned with the Democrats.
There is other independent evidence that buttresses Ratner’s account of what Julian said was the source for the DNC emails. Assange, in an unprecedented move told a Dutch journalist in an interview posted on August 9, 2016 that Wikileaks was offering a $20,000 reward for information to identify the killer or killers of Seth Rich. The head of Wikileaks, living in London, does not offer a reward for info about the killing of a young man in Washington, D.C. during a supposedly routine street robbery who has no ties or relationship with Wikileaks. Assange makes the broader point during the interview with Dutch TV that sources for Wikileaks take risks in providing sensitive or secret material to Assange. The implication is clear to anyone with average intelligence: Seth Rich was a source for Wikileaks.
Ellen’s message from Assange resonated with Ed Butowsky, who has a son a few years younger than Seth. Ed felt enormous empathy for Joel and Mary Rich and could only begin to imagine the horror and the profound pain they felt having lost their son. Ellen, meanwhile, persisted in asking Ed to communicate Julian’s message to the Rich family. Ed searched for contact with the family and ultimately made a connection through Facebook. Ed described his first contact with the Rich family to Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit:
“I got them on the phone and I shared with them the information that this man [Assange] had wanted them to know. What I told them was that I was told that your son downloaded the emails from the DNC server and sold them to WikiLeaks,” Butowsky stated. “Mr. Rich said, and I didn’t see him—it was over the phone, ‘Ed, we already know that. That’s not new information to us.’”
One of the elements weaponized to destroy Ed Butowsky was a Fox News investigative report by Malia Zimmerman published on May 16, 2017— Seth Rich, slain DNC staffer, had contact with WikiLeaks, say multiple sources. This piece sent the anti-Trump mob into a frenzy because it dared to tell a well-sourced story that challenged the orthodoxy that the Russians hacked the DNC as part of an elaborate covert action to ensure the election of Donald Trump. It stayed on the Fox website until it was removed by Refet Kaplan. It was not sloppy, poorly sourced reporting that led Kaplan to withdraw the piece. It was reportedly in response to Rupert Murdoch’s daughter-in-law, Kathryn Murdoch, (who was part of the Clinton Foundation Climate Initiative in 2008) calling Fox’s general counsel, Gerson Zwiefach, and telling him to find a reason to pull the article.
It is true that Fox News issued a statement claiming that the story “was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting. Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards and has since been removed.”
But this justification for removing the story raises very troubling questions about Fox News Corporation’s true motives for taking the piece down. If one accepts as “true” the implication that Malia Zimmerman posted a story with no legitimate sources without it being reviewed by her bosses/editors, then Fox is admitting to gross negligence—not on the part of Malia—but by those who supervised her. Fox News Corporation also revealed its cowardice by pinning full blame on an underling. Malia Zimmerman did not have the clout within Fox News to publish any piece without it being reviewed and edited by her bosses. If she actually had not properly sourced the story and sought approval from her bosses, she would have been fired. But here we are, four years later, and she still has a job at Fox.
Ed’s friendship with Malia ultimately played a key role in making him the target for lawyers with close ties to the Democrat party, some who were acting on behalf of Joel and Mary Rich. Ed was accused of being part of a conspiracy to help Malia Zimmerman fabricate a sham report and smear Seth Rich.
But Malia’s report was not a sham. Consider just two of the key claims in that report, which the anti-Trump mob of lawyers have tried to use as a cudgel to beat the professional life out of Ed Butowsky.
- The Democratic National Committee staffer who was gunned down on July 10 on a Washington, D.C., street just steps from his home had leaked thousands of internal emails to WikiLeaks, law enforcement sources told Fox News.
- A federal investigator who reviewed an FBI forensic report detailing the contents of DNC staffer Seth Rich’s computer generated within 96 hours after his murder, said Rich made contact with WikiLeaks through Gavin MacFadyen. “I have seen and read the emails between Seth Rich and Wikileaks,” the federal investigator told Fox News, confirming the MacFadyen connection. He said the emails are in possession of the FBI,
The anti-Trumpers typical play to discredit anyone who accepts the possibility that Seth Rich leaked the DNC emails to Wikileaks is to label them as a “conspiracy theorist.” But Zimmerman’s story from May 16, 2017 is not a theory and is buttressed by actual facts and solid sources. Zimmerman cites a “federal investigator” as the source for claiming that Seth Rich gave the emails to Assange. But there is other corroborating evidence. Legendary investigative journalist Sy Hersh told Ed Butowsky (in a telephone conversation that Ed recorded without Sy’s permission or knowledge) in early 2017 that Seth did contact Wikileaks and offered to sell Julian Assange’s folks the DNC emails. (You can listen to Sy’s account in the video below.) Sy also said that he had read part of the FBI report.
The FBI has gone to great lengths to claim it has had no communication or involvement in anything having to do with Seth Rich. We now know that is not true. One of Ed’s attorneys, Ty Clevenger made repeated FOIA requests to the FBI for all emails and communications dealing with Seth Rich and his murder. The FBI insisted there were none. But a FOIA request from Judicial Watch struck gold—turns out the FBI did have emails and text messages showing communications between the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Counter Intelligence Division at FBI Headquarters.
Why is the Counter-Intelligence Division at FBI Headquarters receiving and sending emails to the FBI Washington Field Office (which is not located at headquarters) about the murder of some Congressional staffer who was out late at night in Washington, D.C.? The FBI does not get involved in routine street murders. The fact that FBI was playing some role in the investigation of the murder of Seth Rich is underscored by the existence of those emails. That kind of investigation has a paper trail.
To believe that the FBI withholds evidence or lies does not make you a conspiracy theorist. It means you have been reading the news. The most current example comes courtesy of the Michael Flynn case, where the FBI hid and/or destroyed evidence. The Bureau claims, for example, that it has lost the original 302 produced in the aftermath of interviewing Michael Flynn on January 24, 2017. So, it is neither a conspiracy nor is it delusional to assert that the FBI is hiding evidence relative to the Seth Rich murder. It is a simple matter of common sense. Malia Zimmerman’s original sourced claim that the FBI had a report on Seth Rich’s computer has not been challenged by actual evidence.
The other cornerstone of the myth that Russia hacked the DNC, came via Crowdstrike, a cyber security company, which told reporters and the FBI that it discovered the Russians mucking around inside the DNC network. According to recently declassified testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, the President of Crowdstrike swore under oath that there was no evidence that DNC emails had been taken over the internet (i.e., exfiltrated) by the Russians.
When Fox pulled the plug on Malia’s story, Ed soon found himself a target of big Democrat-backed law firms and the big media, including the likes of David Folkenflik (more about that cretin later). The mission was simply—discredit and smear anyone who dared to challenge the claim that Russia hacked the DNC.
Ed Butowsky—in sharp contrast to Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Carter Page and George Papadopoulos—had no affiliation with the Trump Campaign. He gave his money in the 2016 primaries to Carley Fiorina and Marco Rubio. When the Malia Zimmerman story was taken off the internet and Ed tried to defend the reporting, Ed Butowsky found himself now in the crosshairs of a national propaganda campaign to destroy and smear anyone who dared challenge the conventional wisdom that Russia hacked the DNC. Ed was not just called names on television or in the print media, he also was subjected to a vicious smear campaign that was accompanied by threats of violence against him and his family and a deliberate campaign to destroy his business.
In June 2017, Democrat affiliated attorney, Douglas Wigdor, launched a smear campaign against Ed Butowsky. Wigdor’s outlandish claims included the following:
- Ed Butowsky colluded with the President of the United States and Fox to publish “fake news” – that murdered Democratic National Committee (“DNC”) staffer, Seth Rich, leaked certain DNC/Clinton emails to WikiLeaks during the 2016 Presidential primaries – in order to obfuscate and conceal the “truth”: that President Trump colluded with Russia in an attempt to influence the outcome of the Presidential election;
- Ed Butowsky aided, abetted and enticed Fox to publish an article that fabricated and falsely attributed certain quotations to Wheeler, who was investigating the murder of Seth Rich.
Wigdor’s play was simple and ruthless—use these false claims to scare Fox News Corporation into paying out money to settle the case. Fox wisely refused and Wigdor’s next move was to leak information to a pliant mainstream media mouthpiece—David Folkenflik of National Public Radio.
On August 1, 2017, David Folkenflik published an online article titled, “Behind Fox News’ Baseless Seth Rich Story: The Untold Tale”. Ed Butowsky is presented in the Folkenflik hit piece as one of the key villains. Folkenflik “reports”:
The Fox News Channel and a wealthy supporter (i.e., Butowsky) of President Trump worked in concert under the watchful eye of the White House to concoct a story about the death of a young Democratic National Committee aide, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.
The explosive claim is part of a lawsuit filed against Fox News by Rod Wheeler, a longtime paid commentator for the news network. The suit was obtained exclusively by NPR.
Wheeler alleges Fox News and the Trump supporter intended to deflect public attention from growing concern about the administration’s ties to the Russian government. His suit charges that a Fox News reporter created quotations out of thin air and attributed them to him to propel her story.
Folkenflik was a willing tool of Wigdor and was given an advance copy of the lawsuit that Rod Wheeler filed against Fox News, Malia Zimmerman and Ed Butowsky. Folkenflik made a fatal error—he accepted all of the Wheeler claims at face value and made no effort to do actual reporting and search for the truth. He is now being sued for defamation by Ed Butowsky, who appears to have a solid case.
Folkenflik and his bosses tried to get the suit dismissed citing their rights under the First Amendment. A Texas judge ruled in April 2019 against Folkenflik and stated the following grounds justifying the suit brought by Butowsky:
Evaluating the August 1 report as a whole, the Court finds because of material additions and misleading juxtapositions, an objectively reasonable reader could conclude the report mischaracterized Plaintiff’s role in the Seth Rich investigation and “thereby cast more suspicion on [Plaintiff’s] actions than an accurate account would have warranted.”24 Turner, 38 S.W. 3d at 119 (“But by omitting key facts and falsely juxtaposing others, the broadcast’s misleading account cast more suspicion on Turner’s conduct than a substantially true account would have done. Thus, it was both false and defamatory.”). The August 1 Report as a whole is reasonably capable of a defamatory meaning because it goes “beyond merely reporting materially true facts.” White, 909 F.2d at 521. . . .
Folkenflik implied Plaintiff fabricated the story about Seth Rich and WikiLeaks. The Court agrees, especially when read in context with the rest of the statements contained in the August 1 Report. . . .
The Court finds the August 1 Report, as a whole, can be reasonably understood as stating the meaning Plaintiff proposes and is capable of defamatory meaning. . . .
The Court finds Folkenflik’s statements in the Mediaite Interview, as a whole, can be reasonably understood as stating the meaning Plaintiff proposes and are capable of defamatory meaning.
The August 7 Report contains three alleged defamatory statements: (1) Fox News had a “role” in “concocting a baseless story” on the death of Seth Rich; (2) Fox was involved in a “journalistic scandal” over the story; and (3) Fox “concocted” the story “in order to help President Trump.” Unlike the other reports discussed above, Plaintiff is not mentioned in the August 7 Report. According to the Complaint, the August 7 Report, “[r]ead together with the [August 1 Report], the overall tenor and context of Folkenlik’s messages was that Butowsky lied, was dishonest, and aided, abetted and actively participated in a fraudulent journalistic scandal.” Docket Entry # 1 at 36, n. 12.
According to Plaintiff, the overall “gist” is that Fox News and Plaintiff worked together, each playing a “role,” to “concoct” a “baseless story” that resulted in a journalistic “scandal.” Docket Entry # 32 at 24. At this stage of the proceedings, accepting the allegations in the Complaint as true, the Court finds the August 7 Report can be reasonably understood as stating the meaning Plaintiff proposes.
. . . .According to Plaintiff, Folkenflik’s statement, explicitly or by implication, accuses him of engaging in “activities” that caused harm to the Rich Family and that Plaintiff lacked empathy and understanding that his actions “affected” the Riches. The Court finds the August 16 Report, considered as a whole, can be reasonably understood as stating the meaning Plaintiff proposes and is capable of defamatory meaning.
. . . . Plaintiff asserts the word “player” carries a very heavy negative connotation and “highlights Folkenflik’s malicious agenda and extreme bias.” Docket Entry # 32 at 26. The Court finds the September 15 Report, as a whole, can be reasonably understood as stating the meaning Plaintiff proposes and is capable of defamatory meaning.
In sum, the Court finds Plaintiff has alleged the gist of the reports can be reasonably understood as stating the meaning Plaintiff proposes. Because the reports are “reasonably capable” of communicating the meaning Plaintiff proposes, the next question is whether that meaning is “reasonably capable” of defaming Plaintiff. Tatum, 554 S.W.3d at 637. The Court concludes it is, as discussed further below on actual malice.28
Ed Butowsky is another casualty in the Deep State war to destroy Donald Trump. Ironically, Trump does not know Ed Butowsky and has never met him. But that simple fact has not prevented media and pundits from trying to smear him as a White House lackey. If Purple Hearts are ever awarded for the “War on Russiagate,” Ed Butowsky is guaranteed a decoration.
Note from PL: I received this text from a source who wishes to remain anonymous. This source is deeply knowledgeable of the Butowsky matter.