MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow on Thursday revealed what she claims to be a forged National Security Agency document sent to her and warned that it could be part of a larger ploy to dupe and discredit journalists reporting on the Russia meddling in the 2016 election story.
The document, which she didn't show, was difficult to verify, Maddow said. She added that politically it "was not just a smoking gun; it was a gun still firing proverbial bullets." The anchor also said the name of an American citizen, who was part of the Trump campaign, was included in the document, which made it "red hot." That Trump campaign official, whom Maddow wouldn't identify, was described in the document as working with the Russians.
Despite the initial excitement over the document, which was sent to Maddow's team, she said that a similar pattern of dots on the document sent to her by an anonymous source matches that of an NSA document published last month by the Intercept in a story titled Top-secret NSA report details Russian hacking effort days before 2016 election. That document had redactions in response to requests by U.S. intelligence officials. It was shortly after that Intercept story was published that it was reported that federal contractor Reality Leigh Winner was charged with leaking to a news outlet.
The conclusion Maddow derived from this examination was that the document obtained by Maddow's team, which also possessed typos and weird spacing issues, was a fake. Maddow also said current and former U.S. officials advised her that the Trump campaign person wouldn't appear in this type of document.
Even with the "red hot" story being a dud, Maddow defended her decision to report on it after multiple news outlets retracted stories about possible Trump-Russia collusion in recent weeks, including CNN and Vice.
"This is news because why is someone shopping a forged document of this kind to news organizations covering the Trump-Russia affair?" she said.
"Somebody for some reason appears to be shopping a fairly convincing fake NSA document that purports to directly implicate somebody from the Trump campaign in working with the Russians on their attack on the election," Maddow said. "It is a forgery. Let me caveat that. It is either a forgery, or every national security officials we consulted about it is wrong."
She added later, "One way to stab in the heart aggressive American reporting on that subject is to lay traps for American journalists who are reporting on it."