The Slatest

Today in Conservative Media: Why Aren’t These Shady Texts and Damning Memos Officially a “-Gate” Yet?

A member of the US Secret Service Uniformed Division locks a construction gate in the middle of Lafayette Square Park,near the White House as construction has started on the Presidential reviewing stand, November 8, 2016, in Washington, DC.
Paul J. Richards/Getty Images

Texts and memos. Memos and texts. Both forms of communication were hot topics hinting at scandal and intrigue on all sides in conservative media as we all continue to wade through, or perhaps wait for, the implications of the various Carter Page–themed memos—Nunes, Schiff, and Grassley-Graham—floating around these days.

At National Review, Victor Davis Hanson bestows upon the Carter Page FISA warrant uproar the coveted “-gate” status in his argument for “Why FISA-gate Is Scarier Than Watergate.” There are big maybes still at play, he notes. “Members of the Obama administration’s national-security team also may have requested the names of American citizens connected with the Trump campaign who had been swept up in other FISA surveillance,” Hanson writes. “Those officials may have then improperly unmasked the names and leaked them to a compliant press — again, for apparent political purposes during a campaign.” There’s also the texts. “Two FBI officials who had been working on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in the so-called Russia collusion probe, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, have been reassigned for having an improper relationship and for displaying overt political biases in text messages to each other,” he notes.

That all sounds bad. But what makes this worse than Watergate? What has dumped us “in the middle of a third great modern scandal?” The press. “FISA-gate may become a more worrisome scandal than either Watergate or Iran-Contra. Why? Because our defense against government wrongdoing—the press—is defending such actions, not uncovering them,” Hanson writes. “Liberal and progressive voices are excusing, not airing, the excesses of the DOJ and FBI.”

Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel dropped a tweetstorm about a January memo authored by Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Lindsey Graham that made waves on conservative Twitter this week.

Guy Benson at Townhall takes Strassel’s argument and raises her one. “[The Grassley-Graham memo] is substantially more disruptive to the Democrats’ narrative than the Nunes document,” he writes. “Even as someone who believes neither that suspicion of Carter Page was unreasonable, nor that this is all part of a grand anti-Trump conspiracy (remember, the Trump angle of the Russia probe started earlier, for an unrelated reason), there’s enough in the Grassley/Graham memo to make me uncomfortable with the standards by which Page was surveilled by the US government.”

In other news

David Byler at the Weekly Standard dives into Missouri Democrat Mike Revis’ special-election win Tuesday in a district Trump carried by 28 points in 2016 to ask, yet again, “should the GOP be worried?” Yes, the GOP should be worried, but the midterms are still far off and far from locked down; this has been the general line of sober analysis from Byler. In Missouri, despite the extreme turnaround to flip the seat, Byler found the win “consistent with a broader pattern of Democratic overperformance in special elections,” and “this basic pattern—Democrats strongly outperforming Hillary Clinton’s margin in recent special elections—is nothing new.”

Circa picked up on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s comments earlier this week to a local Las Vegas NBC affiliate where he wondered aloud if warming temperatures due to climate change are “necessarily a bad thing” for humans who have, he says, historically “most flourished” during warmer periods. “Do we really know what the ideal surface temperature should be in the year 2100 in the year 2018?” Pruitt asked.

We officially have the first controversy of the Pyeongchang Games—before the games have technically even opened—with a brouhaha over the selection of the American flag bearer for the opening ceremony Friday. Five-time Olympian Shani Davis lost out on flag-toting honors to four-time Olympic luger Erin Hamlin after a coin flip broke a 4-4 vote by the U.S. winter sport federations, which traditionally vote to determine which athlete will carry the flag. Davis was unhappy, apparently with the process, and took to social media to say so.

Andrea Ruth at RedState wasn’t too impressed with Davis’ reaction, writing that “[it] sadly seems fitting in 2018 that a spat over who gets to carry Old Glory at the Winter Olympics’ opening ceremony […] has broken out with an implication of racism being a factor.” “One would think that an athlete competing at an international level would understand fair play, good sportsmanship and, above all, that coin tosses are not racist,” Ruth concludes.