By Will Banyan, Copyright © 28 February 2019
“Corsi is telling us to our faces that he’s a master of propaganda and disinformation, and you want to trust this man?”
Reddit post by u/C_L_I_C_K, r/Drain the Swamp, May 08, 2018
“Very sad to see Jerry Corsi lie about me on WJLA and Fox Business News. Seems when it comes to Roger Stone he’ll say whatever Mueller’s minions what him too. Unfortunately for him I have evidence and witnesses to prove his treachery.”
Roger Stone discussing his friend ‘Jerry’ Corsi, on Facebook, December 30, 2018
Among his many talents, Jerome Corsi claims unique knowledge and training in the art of
disinformation. “I’ve been trained in public relations by Edward Bernays”,
Corsi proudly told MSNBC’s
Ari Belber last November, mentioning the
of public relations” and author of Propaganda (1928). He also made the same
boast in an interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity: “I was trained in public relations by
Edward Bernays, the founder of [public relations], you know…” He also wrote in Infowars (May
17, 2017), that Bernays had trained him in
the 1960s. In his new book, Silent No
More, however, Corsi does not mention the training, but recounts that his
father, as Director of Public Relations for the Brotherhood of Railroad
Trainmen had hired Bernays.[*]
information on when Bernays found time to personallytrain him is yet to be released, Corsi is nevertheless keen to
display his deep knowledge of propaganda or disinformation techniques. Thus, in
Killing the Deep State, Corsi
provides readers with the following insights:
The first principle of all propaganda and disinformation involves the manipulation of public opinion by the creation of a lie – known in today’s terminology as a narrative or a meme – that is crafted to be sufficiently credible so a persistent campaign of repeating the lie can change public opinion, even if the narrative is totally untrue, concocted without any basis in fact, evidence, or reality (pp.146-147; emphasis added).
Corsi “Russian collusion” is a “disinformation meme being advanced by the Deep
State and mainstream media…” (ibid, p.148). These allegations, he asserts, are
“false” (p.161); there is “no evidence” (p.148) and “no proof” (p.180) of
collusion. Much of the advice dispensed in Killing
the Deep State is about how to counter this supposed “disinformation meme”,
but it is also used to justify the deliberate disinformation that is Corsi’s
counter-narrative. A narrative that avoids engaging with the core claims of the
supposed “disinformation meme”, but instead promotes a tale of a villainous
“Deep State” that is plotting to oust Trump with fictitious allegations,
support radical leftists (Antifa), and cover-up the apparently more serious
crimes of the Clintons.
surprisingly the information released over the past few months in the draft
Statement of Offense, by Corsi himself (as he tries to save his own skin) and
now in Mueller’s indictment
of Roger Stone and response
to Stone’s objection, has discredited Corsi’s
disinformation-laden “Deep State” counter-narrative. In particular it has
exposed how Corsi and Stone conspired to spread disinformation in a bid to
conceal their roles linking Wikileaks to the Trump campaign. Corsi and Stone
have also promoted new (and conflicting) cover stories to explain away their
contacts with Wikileaks. This has not only exacerbated the personal conflict
between Corsi and Stone, but has further undermined the carefully crafted
conspiracy theory about a Deep State plot against Trump.
Shooting Stones in a Barrel
The first of
the Corsi-Stone cover stories to be undermined concerned their attempts to
explain away the significance of Stone’s now notorious Podesta tweet. On August
21, 2016, Stone issued the following tweet: “Trust me, it will soon [be]
Podesta’s time in the barrel.”[†]
significance of this tweet did not become an issue until thousands of emails
hacked from the personal gmail account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman,
John Podesta, were released by Wikileaks starting on October 7, 2016. Notably
it was John Podesta himself, talking to reporters about a week later, who cited
Stone’s tweet as evidence the Trump campaign had “advance knowledge” of
… John Podesta pointed the finger at Trump adviser Roger Stone, who he said has been in touch with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Podesta also raised as evidence an August tweet in which Stone said Podesta’s “time in the barrel” was coming. The tweet was sent shortly after WikiLeaks published scores of hacked emails from other Democratic officials.
“I think it’s a reasonable assumption, or at least a reasonable conclusion, that Mr. Stone and the Trump campaign had advance warning about what Assange was going to do,” Podesta told reporters aboard the Clinton campaign plane. Podesta acknowledged the evidence was “circumstantial” (Associated Press, Oct. 12, 2016).
Podesta’s lead, on October 14, 2016 a group of House Democrats issued a joint
statement citing Stone’s tweet as evidence “the Trump campaign [was] not only
aware of cyber attacks against Secretary Clinton’s campaign chairman, but was
openly bragging about it as far back as August.” They called on the FBI to “fully
investigate and explain to the American people what steps it is taking to
disrupt this ongoing criminal activity.”
It is worth
nothing that at this point Stone had not disputed his tweet referred only to John Podesta. Writing in Breitbart (Oct.
19, 2016), for example, Stone had poured
scorn on the claim by former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell that he “knew in
advance that Wikileaks would hack the very revealing e-mail of Hillary campaign
chief John Podesta.” He then interpreted his own tweet as meaning: “I predicted
that [John] Podesta’s business dealings would be exposed.” In a subsequent
interview with Newsweek (Nov. 11,
2016), Stone also made no such distinctions about whom the tweet was about.
Then in his book The Making of the President 2016 (p.307), Stone corrected the obvious error in his tweet; removing the errant “the” so it read as “Trust me, it will soon be Podesta’s time in the barrel” (Figure 2) This was in a section that left no doubt the tweet’s subject was John Podesta as it made repeated references to him in the context of the tweet.
Only later, as
investigations by the FBI, Special Counsel and Congress made it a problem, did
Stone begin to change his story, insisting his tweet actually referred to the
allegedly nefarious business activities of both Podesta brothers, not just John. In his testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI)
on September 26, 2017, for example, Stone asserted:
Note, that my Tweet of August 21, 2016, makes no mention, whatsoever, of Mr. Podesta’s email, but does accurately predict that the Podesta brothers’ business activities in Russia with the oligarchs around Putin, their uranium deal, their bank deal, and their Gazprom deal, would come under public scrutiny (Stone opening statement, pp.15-17; emphasis added).
Anderson Cooper on CNN in April last
year, Stone again went with his revised
version of what his tweet meant claiming that “My reference is to both
STONE: Nowhere did I predict the — nowhere did I predict the hacking of John Podesta’s e-mails.
COOPER: And you are saying the evidence of that is because you said Podestas, plural?
STONE: Well, people call him or did call him the Donald, but no one has ever called John Podesta the Podesta. Correct [emphasis added].
As for the
source of that information on the Podestas’ alleged nefarious dealings with the
Russians, Stone’s explanation continued to evolve. When Stone first addressed
allegations he had knew Wikileaks had Podesta’s hacked emails, he issued a flat
I predicted that Podesta’s business dealings would be exposed. I didn’t hear it from Wikileaks, although Julian Assange and I share a common friend. I reported the story on my website. So let’s be clear. I had no advance notice of Wikileaks’ hacking of Podesta’s e-mails. I didn’t need it to know what Podesta has been up to (Breitbart, 19 Oct. 2016).
In The Making of the President 2016,
published at the end of January 2017, Stone repeatedly dismissed as “false”
claims from Podesta and others that he “knew the specific subject matter of the
subsequent Wikileaks disclosures or that I had special knowledge of the timing
of these disclosures…” (p.308) Instead he alone had made this discovery:
I knew from my own research that Podesta had been involved in money laundering for the Clinton Foundation and the Russian Mob. My tweet was a specific reference to an article I posted online on StoneColdTruth.com on October 13. It’s important to note that none of the information regarding Podesta’s activities in this article comes from Wikileaks in their subsequent releases. The two are not connected (ibid, pp.307-308; emphasis added)
In March 2017,
however, as Trump Campaign’s links to Russia came under increased scrutiny,
this story was subtly changed when Corsi published an article in Infowars (Mar.
23, 2017) offering an explanation for Stone’s suspicious
tweet. Seemingly incensed by the adverse coverage of
his dear friend, Corsi reassured readers that Stone’s “email” (a Freudian
slip?) did no such thing:
Democrats have mistakenly used this email to “prove” Stone had advance knowledge Julian Assange of Wikileaks was about to release emails hacked from John Podesta, then the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Corsi, the “truth” was more mundane. Stone’s tweet had in fact arisen from
their plan to counter the supposedly unfair media exposure of the Russia ties
of Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort. As Corsi explained:
My plan was to publicize the Government Accountability Institute’s report, “From Russia With Money,” that documented how Putin paid substantial sums of money to both Hillary Clinton and John Podesta.
According to Corsi, it was his research and
conversations that were behind Stone’s tweet:
On Aug. 14, 2016, I began researching for Roger Stone a memo that I entitled “Podesta.”
I completed that memo on Aug. 31, 2016, and is embedded here in its entirety.
Between Aug. 14 and Aug. 31, 2016, Roger Stone and I had several detailed conversations about the Podesta research.
When Stone wrote his “suspicious” tweet on Aug. 21, 2016, he and I planned to publish a one-two punch, using the Government Accountability Institute report to expose Hillary and Podesta’s ties to Russia.
later in his testimony before the HPSCI, Stone recycled Corsi’s explanation:
The Tweet is also based on a comprehensive, early August opposition research briefing provided to me by investigative journalist, Dr. Jerome Corsi, which I then asked him to memorialize in a memo that he sent me on August 31st, all of which was culled from public records. There was no need to have John Podesta’s email to learn that he and his presidential candidate were in bed with the clique around Putin [emphasis added].
already problems with this version of events that some analysts had noted
before Corsi released the draft Statement of Offense, such as the fact that Stone
did not tweet about Podesta again until after the Wikileaks release; and that
Stone and Corsi did not release their research pieces on Podesta’s nefarious
Russia ties until
after Wikileaks had released the Podesta
emails relating to this, indeed as ThinkProgress
noted Stone’s article “heavily relies on the
Podesta Wikileaks dumps to make his case.”
this cover story has completely unravelled with the release of the August 2,
2016 email from Corsi, which referred explicitly to “Podesta” and not “the
Podestas” (see Figure 3), Moreover,
Corsi confirmed in interviews with the Daily
Caller and the NBC he had told Stone in an
email that Wikileaks had John Podesta’s emails (although Corsi puts his own
particular spin on how he knew this). Stone, however, initially disputed that
Corsi had told him this, as was subsequently reported in the Daily Caller (Nov. 23,
One person Corsi says he believed he told is Stone. But Stone, who met Corsi in 2015, vehemently denies speaking to Corsi about Podesta emails.
“Absolutely, positively not,” Stone told TheDCNF.
At same time
Stone did not deny receiving the email and even provided the Daily Caller with a complete version of
Perhaps more damaging were Corsi’s comments to Wall Street Journal and his apparent confession in Silent No More, where he claimed he and Stone conspired to develop a “cover story” to explain away the problematic Podesta tweet. In his interview with the Wall Street Journal (Nov. 28, 2018), Corsi offered this explanation:
[Corsi] said in an interview Tuesday that Mr. Stone called him on Aug. 30, 2016—nine days after the tweet—and asked Mr. Corsi for help in creating an “alternative explanation” for it.
Shortly after that conversation, Mr. Corsi said he began writing a memo for Mr. Stone about Mr. Podesta’s business dealings. In the following months, both Mr. Stone and Mr. Corsi said the memo was the inspiration for his tweet, even though it was in fact written afterward, Mr. Corsi said.
“What I construct, and what I testified to the grand jury, was I believed I was creating a cover story for Roger, because Roger wanted to explain this tweet,” Mr. Corsi said. “By the way, the special counsel knew this. They can virtually tell my keystrokes on that computer.”
In Silent No More, Corsi revealed that on
August 30, 2016, Stone had requested help from Corsi to develop a cover story
for his Podesta tweet:
…Stone told me he was getting heat for his tweet and needed some cover. Writing cover stories is standard operating procedure for consultants in political campaigns, with the goal of providing alternative explanations to mask what could be politically damaging narratives or uncomfortable but costly facts [emphasis added].
that he had “an excellent cover story for Stone’s unfortunate tweet” in the
form of research had been doing into Podesta and Clinton links to the Russians.
According to Corsi’s recollection (apparently provided to Mueller):
I suggested Stone could use me as an excuse, claiming my research on Podesta and Russia was the basis for Stone’s prediction that Podesta would soon be in the pickle barrel. I knew this was a cover-story, in effect not true, since I recalled telling Stone earlier in August that Assange had Podesta emails that he planned to drop as the “October Surprise” calculated by Assange to deliver a knock-out blow to Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations [emphasis added]
“At Roger’s request”, Corsi wrote an article to explain how Stone “got his information
for his Twitter post on August 21, 2016.” This article, published in Infowars in March 2017 (Figure 4), “allowed us once again to
rollout the cover-story.”
implications of this admission were obvious to a number of observers. NBC’s Ari
it to Corsi that he had had “agreed to help
Roger [Stone] mislead Congress about how he found out about Podesta…”; they had
deliberately put forward “false information”, a “lie” to a Congressional
Committee. A chastened Corsi, citing his beloved Bernays, insisted it was
merely “repositioning”, but acknowledged that when questioned by the SCO before
the grand jury he had “openly admitted to them in their terms it was a lie.” Speaking
Williams on WJLA, Corsi also admitted that
his Podesta memo was a “public relations fabrication”; “Yes, it was a lie”,
Corsi told WJLA.
“creation of a lie”, Dr Corsi reminds us in Killing
the Deep State, is central to any campaign aimed at manipulating public
opinion. In short, Corsi admits to engaging in disinformation, even though he
dare not call it that.
An Ill-Gotten Camel Gathers No Gain
documents from the Special Counsel, coupled with Corsi’s deliberate partial
admissions (otherwise known as “limited hangouts” where a party leaks or
releases portions of information damaging to itself in a bid to control the
narrative), also expose some other carefully crafted lies embedded in Killing the Deep State.
The first of
these relates to Corsi’s statement that: “…it has never been proven that…the
Russians themselves hacked the DNC, nor has it been proven that Wikileaks was
working with the Russians” (KDS, p.42). Elsewhere Corsi disputes the identity
of Guccifer 2.0:
Despite desperate efforts to prove that Guccifer 2.0 was Russian, Guccifer 2.0’s identity has remained undisclosed. The Democrats never succeeded in proving either that Guccifer 2.0 was Russian or that Guccifer 2.0 was responsible for stealing the DNC and Podesta emails that Wikileaks published (KDS, p.90).
promotes the theory that the DNC was not hacked, noting that Julian Assange had
“repeatedly suggested that the emails were leaked by Seth Rich”, a DNC employee
and “Bernie Sanders supporter” who was murdered in Washington DC on July 10,
2016. He asks us to take at face value Assange’s denials that “the Russians ‘or
any state party’ supplied Wikileaks with the DNC and/or Podesta emails” (KDS, p.92).
Corsi conveniently ignores Assange’s
earlier statement, a week after Seth Rich’s death, that “[p]erhaps
one day the source or sources will step forward…” Or that in that the same time period Roger Stone twice
suggested that Russia was behind the hacking.
Nor does he refer to Stone’s Breitbart
article of August
5, 2016, attributing the “hack” to Guccifer
2.0 but backtracking on Russia as the culprit. As Stone wrote: “It doesn’t seem
to be the Russians that hacked the DNC, but instead a hacker who goes by the
name of Guccifer 2.0.” Or that Assange’s implied endorsement of the Seth Rich
theory on August 9, 2016 just happened to be on the same day Stone promoted the
idea that Rich was another Clinton victim.
In yet another
backtrack, Stone would go on to draw a more explicit connection in his book,
citing “multiple sources” had come forward to confirm the data had been
“leaked” and supplied to Wikileaks by a “disgruntled” DNC staff member. “I believe
that person to be Seth Rich”, wrote Stone, “who shortly thereafter took five
slugs to the back” (The Making of the
President, p.130). While Corsi would
promote the idea at length on Infowars
in numerous articles (see for example here, here, here, here, here and here).
And yet in his email to Stone of Aug. 2,
2016, Corsi makes a clear reference to “hackers” not the supposed DNC leakers:
“That appears to the game hackers are about now.” This revelation that Corsi
and Stone considered it a self-evident truth the DNC was hacked, prompted many
observers to come to the obvious conclusion their Seth Rich
conspiracy-mongering was the ultimate act of bad faith (see Figure 5). It “shows the clear-eyed and
cruel ways the two right-wing pundits propagated falsehoods for political gain”,
wrote Molly Olmstead (Slate). According to Will Sommers at the Daily
Beast, this revelation only proved that
“Corsi was lying” when he promoted his Seth Rich theories on Infowars, “despite knowing that hackers
had been behind the email theft.”
The second piece of disinformation relates to the seemingly remarkable
coincidence where the release of the Podesta emails occurred on the same day as
the release of the Access Hollywood video. In Killing the Deep State, Corsi writes:
Wikileaks began publishing the Podesta emails on October 7, 2016, almost simultaneously with the Washington Post publishing the Access Hollywood video of Trump making lewd comments to Billy Bush—a coincidence that that Trump accusers argued was further proof of Trump’s collusion with Russia and Wikileaks (KDS, p.91).
And yet, in Silent No More, Corsi has admitted the
suspicions of “Trump accusers” that this was no mere “confidence” were correct.
Corsi now claims that Stone had advance knowledge about the Access Hollywood
tape and wanted to coordinate with Wikileaks on the release of Podesta emails. More
importantly, according Corsi, the Special Counsel had evidence of this. As he
relates in Silent No More, one of
Mueller’s prosecutors, Aaron Zelinsky, had told Corsi’s lawyer David Gray:
…. that Stone had told me in advance about the Billy Bush video and asked me to get word to Assange to hold the release of the first batch of the Podesta emails until after the Washington Post had published the damaging Billy Bush ‘hot mic’ recording. That is exactly what happened.
Finally Zelinksy revealed that after October 7, 2016, the prosecutors had evidence of an email exchange between Stone and me, in which Stone expressed pleasure that Assange had released the Podesta emails as instructed, and in which I replied that Stone and I “should be given credit.”
Although in Silent No More, Corsi is cagey about how this message may have been passed on to Wikileaks (Vox’s Andrew Prokop speculates, based on the timeline of calls on October 7, 2016 provided in Silent No More, that Corsi’s call to Total Banking Solutions might be the key). There was no mention of this exchange either Corsi’s draft Statement of Offense or in the various court documents submitted by the SCO regarding Stone. In revealing this information Corsi, we can presume, was trying to get ahead of any future indictments against him. Such is the modus operandi of this proud “disinformation” expert, this propagandist…
To be concluded in Part 3
[†] The corrected wording – substituting “be” for “the” – is consistent
with the version of the tweet’s words as reproduced by Roger Stone in his book,
The Making of the President 2016 at