CNN has been thrust into another furious row over the accuracy of its coverage after contributor Josh Rogin, also of the Washington Post, implied live on air that Brexit financier Arron Banks was linked to the Russian government.
Speaking on Carol Costello’s show just moments after UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage this morning, Mr. Rogin said:
“What we are seeing is a not-so-covert effort to re-align American foreign policy with all these parties who are engaged in an anti-European project. Probably funded with Russian money. That’s a real thing.
Challenged by fellow panelist Ben Ferguson — who himself poured scorn on the idea of Mr. Farage as UK Ambassador to the United States — Mr Rogin added: “It’s in the Panama Papers. Check it out. Google it. It’s in there. Arron Banks.”
Challenged by an incredulous Mr. Ferguson again Mr. Rogin continued: “I love watching you come to the realization of the truth of the situation,” before adding: ‘I encourage viewers to Google it. Arron Banks, the guy who comes with Nigel Farage to all the meetings with Trump, who we never talk about, look into his Panama Papers. Look into his finances”.
Mr. Banks has since informed Breitbart London that he has already instructed lawyers to investigate a defamation claim against CNN or Mr. Rogin.
And Mr. Banks did indeed appear in the Panama Papers, the greatest extent of his involvement in them appearing to be owning shares in companies. The Guardian reported that in owning shares and companies based in the British Virgin Islands and Gibraltar, Mr. Banks had done nothing illegal, and no mentions of any Russian interests were included in the report.
Following the CNN show, Mr. Rogin began tweeting links to paranoid reports of Russian influence in the European Union. The most recent, entitled “The Kremlin’s Trojan Horses” was compiled by a Washington-D.C.-based think tank named The Atlantic Council.
The Council, known as a hawkish and internationalist outfit, itself admitted to receiving money from state-owned assets in Turkey, as well from the governments of Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and indeed the United Kingdom.
The organisation has also received funding from NATO and the European Commission — the executive arm of the European Union.
But the Council alleges that it is Russia that is involved in state-meddling in foreign affairs, with its report claiming that Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen, and other populist politicians had Russian sympathies, rather than simply being anti-EU and not wanting war with Russia.
The report refers to UKIP — a party comprised of small-c conservatives, working class voters, libertarians, and soft-nationalists — as “far right”.
The report makes no reference to the fact that the UKIP 2015 General Election manifesto indeed pushed the British government to increase its NATO defence spending budget to the required two per cent of GDP per the NATO charter.
The report also neglects to mention that Mr. Farage has credited NATO for keeping the peace in Europe since the Second World War, often lauding the efforts of the group that is intrinsically linked to the Atlantic Council.
But the report’s partisanship is perhaps revealed by the fact that the foreword is written by Radoslaw Sikorski, the former minister of Foreign Affairs in the Polish government under Mr. Donald Tusk. Mr. Tusk is now President of the European Council. Mr. Sikorski’s spouse is Anne Applebaum, senior columnist at the Washington Post, where CNN contributor Josh Rogin is also employed.
Speaking to Breitbart London since the television interview, Mr. Rogin said he was “referring to [a] Russian-linked bank’s loan to France’s [National Front]. He added: “I have no specific information about any links between Arron Banks and Russia and truly did not mean to imply that in my appearance today”.
Earlier this week former UN Ambassador for the United States John Bolton told Breitbart News that a European Union Army was a “dagger pointed at the eye” of NATO. That a NATO-affiliated think tank is empowering European Union advocates to attack NATO-allies may raise eyebrows given the increasingly competitive spirit between the two organisations.