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June 25, 2017

IT’S REALLY NOT THAT UNCOMMON: The New York Post is reporting that a Washington research firm of former journalists were behind the salacious Russian/Trump dossier:

Fusion GPS describes itself as a “research and strategic intelligence firm” founded by “three former Wall Street Journal investigative reporters.” But congressional sources says it’s actually an opposition-research group for Democrats, and the founders, who are more political activists than journalists, have a pro-Hillary, anti-Trump agenda. “These weren’t mercenaries or hired guns,” a congressional source familiar with the dossier probe said. “These guys had a vested personal and ideological interest in smearing Trump and boosting Hillary’s chances of winning the White House.”

The fact is that that firms creating opposition research are often staffed with former journalists, who use their connections in the editorial world to redistribute this sort of thing. (Naturally, there are “right-leaning” as well as “left-leaning” firms of this sort.) Work in a newsroom long enough and you’ll begin to recognize “oppo” when you see it.  Sadly, a number of journalists who were laid off by big news outfits and can’t find work elsewhere have resorted to doing this kind of work. As news organizations cut back on reporting, it’s easier than ever to get “oppo” published as news without sufficient fact-checking. What’s the opposite of a virtuous circle?

**Update: Austin Bay answers the question.