Talk:Spygate (conspiracy theory)

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RfC: conspiracy theory[edit]

Duplicative. We have consensus in discussions closed May 2 and May 9 that we should describe Spygate as a conspiracy theory.
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Should we continue to describe Spygate as a conspiracy theory? R2 (bleep) 22:43, 17 May 2019 (UTC)


(Yes = continue describing Spygate as conspiracy theory, no = stop describing Spygate as conspiracy theory)

Extended discussion[edit]

We just did this. O3000 (talk) 22:47, 17 May 2019 (UTC)

Facepalm. I will withdraw and close. R2 (bleep) 22:51, 17 May 2019 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.
Reopening withdrawn RfCs is disruptive. R2 (bleep) 17:40, 21 May 2019 (UTC)

I reopened. 1. I did not have any part in any previous discussion or supposed "consensus". 2. There was not a "consensus" otherwise there wouldn't be at least 2 editors who think that we need to remove "conspiracy theory" and change the name. 3. Can you point to any other actual conspiracy theories that title the article in this fashion on Wikipedia with "(conspiracy theory)" in the title? 4. There is extremely strong WP:RS evidence that the Trump campaign was spied on. So for a US President to make such a claim does not at all feel like or sound like a conspiracy theory.

Previous comments moved as I am reopening the RfC.Wcmcdade (talk) 16:28, 18 May 2019 (UTC)

You're linking to your own argument for a reference? As if its the last word on this, when we have RS stating Trump had good reason to say what did? This is getting silly. Your position rests upon Trumps claims getting some details wrong but overall he was mostly right, this conspiracy theory thing is getting narrower and narrower. So its coming down to proving it was for political purposes ... ignoring this? ? Really? 

"An FBI agent who was removed from the probe into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign texted an FBI attorney that the agency would "stop" then-candidate Donald Trump from becoming president."

 Trying to assume good faith here but its hard with your edit history. You are a productive objective editor and an asset to wiki but your anti Trump sentiments are pretty obvious.  Why the stubbornness to continue the wrong angle to this story?Batvette (talk) 18:56, 18 May 2019 (UTC)
I withdrew the RfC. Please stop. R2 (bleep) 19:29, 18 May 2019 (UTC)

Points presented that argue this was Trumps conspiracy theory rather than erroneous details of otherwise well founded suspicions.[edit]

This seems to be the basis for preserving the CT nature of this article and it seems to have been focused around 4 points listed by BR. He concedes surveillance occurred. I think we all agree what it was called is irrelevant. He places significance on errors of the date the investigation starts but IMO that goes hand in hand on what starts it- the Steele dossier as well as intel about George P boasting about Russian leaks. I dont think Trump getting the dates wrong merits calling it a conspiracy theory, indeed, he was going on what he knew at the time. I also think that an error about Halpers role or whether he was paid massive amounts matter much. Halper was paid $1mil by the feds, we know that. What makes this a Trump conspiracy theory, at the end of the day, is claiming the investigation was for political purposes and done by the Obama admin. Can we agree on that? This dispenses with ever narrowing arguments concerning Trumps errors which as usual were plenty and cuts it away to the gist of his self proclaimed bombshell, and do RS provide evidence that his accusation was crazy or rational. Im going to let this essay sit and stew a bit before presenting some RS to support this and what I have seen today may or may not be news to anyone. I might further note that a lot of discussion says that the investigation was merited based on preliminary evidence about the players under Trump. This appears true. However the Mueller report finds little to no evidence Trump orchestrated any Russian collusion so why should he not assume political reasons... and when the investigation continues despite concerns over the Steele dossier and Azra Turks efforts with George P going nowhere... should we consider that it did become political? RS have texts from Page and Strzok that suggest thats exactly what happened, and that it was under direction of the White House. Will provide if necessary.Batvette (talk) 22:07, 18 May 2019 (UTC)

I see you have not made a single edit to the article. Why not try that? soibangla (talk) 22:23, 18 May 2019 (UTC)

Conspiracy theory discussion #__[edit]

Spygate is not a conspiracy theory any more! Please update your site accordingly. Get your facts straight otherwise you are guilty of the same thing the media has been doing all along. Catquillen (talk) 22:42, 18 May 2019 (UTC)

Not done - Wikipedia is based on mainstream reliable sources. Your personal belief that these sources are biased or wrong is of no consequence here. NorthBySouthBaranof (talk) 22:44, 18 May 2019 (UTC)
Is Paste a reliable source for politics? I have never heard of this magazine. Is it mainstream? Why isn't the claim that Spygate is a conspiracy theory sourced in NPR, NBC, ABC, CBS, Reuters, AP, BBC, Bloomberg, or USA Today? Oh, right, because although all these sources reported on Spygate, none of them called it a conspiracy theory, so we had to cherry pick Paste and the Intercept. How embarrassing. Shinealittlelight (talk) 23:09, 18 May 2019 (UTC)
Can we at least remove Paste and the Intercept? RSN seems to regard Intercept as unreliable without attribution. And Paste is apparently a magazine that focuses on entertainment. What the heck? Shinealittlelight (talk) 23:11, 18 May 2019 (UTC)
@Soibangla: WaPo states in their reader guide that their news analysis pieces are opinion pieces. See here: [1] So the WaPo seems like another inappropriate source. Keep looking, though--maybe you can find a choicer cherry to replace it. Also, Newsweek is a little weak as support for the central claim of the article. Shinealittlelight (talk) 23:44, 18 May 2019 (UTC)
@Shinealittlelight: - I strongly disagree with your interpretation of WaPo's policy. The separation of news columns from the editorial pages is solemn and complete ... But nothing in this separation of functions is intended to eliminate from the news columns honest, in-depth reporting, or analysis or commentary when plainly labeled. Thus, Analysis is News under WaPo. starship.paint (talk) 05:15, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
@Starship.paint: the the whole section you're quoting from is the "OPINION" section of the article. They're explaining how they label the various sorts of opinion columns in their publication, and how it's ok that there is some opinion in some of their news sources, so long as they are careful to label them as analysis pieces. That's how I read it anyway. Hard to understand the title of the sub-section you're quoting if the various labels are not regarded as different sorts of opinion columns. Shinealittlelight (talk) 12:22, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
@Shinealittlelight: - there is some opinion in some of their news sources - your statement doesn’t tally that WaPo said The separation of news columns from the editorial pages is solemn and complete. This separation is intended to serve the reader, who is entitled to the facts in the news columns and to opinions on the editorial and “op-ed” pages. There is no mix of opinion and fact here. Opinions are on editorial and op-ed pages. Nowhere does it say that opinions are on Analysis pages. What it does say is that analysis is on Analysis pages. They have named the subsection Opinion just to clarify their commitment to keeping news and opinion separate. starship.paint (talk) 13:45, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
@Starship.paint: Well, I can understand that reading of what they wrote, but I disagree with it because it's absurd to suggest that their analysis pieces do not contain opinion, since they obviously do. In any case, I'd like to hear your take on the whole issue at RSN. Shinealittlelight (talk) 18:55, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
@Shinealittlelight: Nah, I won't. But from reading that discussion, we could cite the conspiracy theory labels according to author and publication. It wouldn't hurt. starship.paint (talk) 07:04, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
@Starship.paint: I agree! Let's do that! But then how should the title be handled? I suppose we don't want the title of the article to include an attribution. Shinealittlelight (talk) 11:17, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
@Shinealittlelight: - I guess the title would stay the same if there are indeed many sources calling it a conspiracy theory. It has to be step-wise though. Body first, then the lede then the title. starship.paint (talk) 11:26, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Do you believe that the FBI spied on the Trump campaign to alter the election in favor of Clinton? If so, please point to reliable sources. If not, what is your point? O3000 (talk) 23:57, 18 May 2019 (UTC)
My beliefs on that matter are not under discussion. My point is that the WaPo piece is not an appropriate source in this case, for the indicated reason. That's also exactly what I said. Shinealittlelight (talk) 00:03, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
Oh, and my other point is that Newsweek is a weak source. Also exactly what I said. Shinealittlelight (talk) 00:06, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
    • 03000, the texts between Strzok and Page prove exactly that, that they intended to prevent his win, and that their activities were directly reporting to the white house. RS everywhere on that. Batvette (talk) 00:18, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
Let's see those RS.Volunteer Marek (talk) 00:20, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
That's ludicrous and a serious WP:BLP violation. O3000 (talk) 00:34, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
That is not at all "proven". You and others are misrepresenting those text messages. – Muboshgu (talk) 00:36, 19 May 2019 (UTC)

I agree that Trump's claims are unsubstantiated, and that he made them to discredit the Mueller investigation. That's the correct way to describe the situation, in line with tons of reliable mainstream sources, which I've detailed on this page. Instead, you guys are cherry picking Newsweek, some opinion pieces, and one outlier report from the LA times. Stop cherry picking. Shinealittlelight (talk) 00:25, 19 May 2019 (UTC)

Here's Vox, Rolling Stone, GQ, CNN, Vanity Fair, New York, etc. using the same terminology. We don't need WP:CITEKILL in the lede to make the point. NorthBySouthBaranof (talk) 00:37, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
Right, GQ and the like, and another CNN opinion piece. That's reassuring. Why not consider what I said: the traditional RS news sources described the situation as I did: his claims were and are unsubstantiated, and they were originally made to discredit the Mueller investigation. Put it that way, cite some real RSs, and then you don't have to turn to mens fashion media or entertainment media. Shinealittlelight (talk) 00:49, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
Here's PoliticoThe retiring South Carolina Republican’s emergence as a critic of Trump’s conspiracy theory began Tuesday. You've asked for more and better sources than Paste and The Intercept, and those sources have been provided. NorthBySouthBaranof (talk) 01:02, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
Haaretz: Fox News, which is often in sync with U.S. President Donald Trump both rhetorically and politically, is joining some Republican leaders in sounding the alarm that Trump’s latest conspiracy theory, “Spygate,” may finally be a step too far and even a threat to rule of law in the U.S. NorthBySouthBaranof (talk) 01:03, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
@NorthBySouthBaranof: - could you add the best sources to the body? Thanks. starship.paint (talk) 05:23, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
RS for the texts. would you like more?Batvette (talk) 03:34, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
The fuck is "CNSNEWS"? NY Post? Please approach article editing seriously. If you're gonna promise "RS", then provide those RS, not garbage. The other two sources are marginally better though probably still not RS for claims of fact, and they also do not say what you claim they say.Volunteer Marek (talk) 05:30, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
I've seen a lot of argument on this page, and I think this is the first time someone started cussing. Too bad. I find it uncivil, and I think it raises the temperature in an unhelpful way. Shinealittlelight (talk) 22:17, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
Hardly the worst civility problem here. O3000 (talk) 22:19, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
Never said it was the worst. In a way, the fact that there has been so little cussing is a credit to participants in this debate. Shinealittlelight (talk) 22:27, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
Personally I see attempts at shoving garbage into our articles as far more offensive than a naughty word.Volunteer Marek (talk) 23:24, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
Well, by all means, keep cussing at us then. As long as you're not doing the most offensive thing, I guess. Shinealittlelight (talk) 00:34, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
Well, you seem upset at the use of one word from 16th century Germany. But, when someone uses words against another editor like sophomoric, willful ignorance, cabal, joke, master of nothing, childish incompetence, boorish, lame, lack of a competant (sic) argument, you haven’t said a word. Well, not quite true. You engaged that editor on your talk page after all of these attacks referring to their conduct suchly: “a reasonable conservative tries to play by the rules” and then adding your own PA against editors there. These are actual violations. Glass houses. O3000 (talk) 00:51, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
That's false. I did not refer to that editor's conduct in that way. I said that I was interested in seeing what happens when a reasonable conservative plays by the rules, since that's what I aspire to do, and what I believe I have done. I have not commented on that editor's conduct, but I do have objections to the language that editor used. I did not personally attack anyone. I do think that there are editors with primarily political motivations around here, and I think that such behavior is necessarily both dumb and destructive. I have not personally attacked any of these politically motivated editors, or named them. So quit making things up about me, please. Shinealittlelight (talk) 01:03, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
My point remains. You think it uncivil to use one word not aimed at an editor; yet to an editor that made a broad set of personal attacks against another editor, you claimed that they "played by the rules". I'll leave it at that. O3000 (talk) 01:11, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
No, I didn't claim that. Read again. Shinealittlelight (talk) 01:16, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
I see you have not made a single edit to the article. Why not try that? soibangla (talk) 03:42, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
  • There are a couple of editors here who have not been respecting the recent consensus. It is time to drop the stick. R2 (bleep) 03:53, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
I count no less than 28 different editors who have posted on this page since april 12 (this is all topics currently on the page) who disagreed with the POV nature of the article and/or want CT dropped from the title. Why the misportrayal? If you dont want to participate in the discussion you dont have to. Batvette (talk) 15:45, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
Volunteer Marek you are trying to deny the facts by attacking the source. The statements by those agents were lifted directly from an official Justice Dept report. Here it is from the Washington Post. There it is, reliable sources stating as fact, that top FBI officials engaged in inappropriate behavior with the intent of hurting Trumps chances of winning the election. Thats from the inspector general report. These officials were assigned to the case as it was being investigated in London and their own words state their intentions as well as describing their actions were reported directly to the President.Batvette (talk) 14:33, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
Well, I read through your WaPo cite twice. I saw absolutely nothing relating in any manner to the subject of this thread. It is completely off-topic. O3000 (talk) 14:58, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
Willful ignorance is hardly a talking point I feel obligated to waste time on.Batvette (talk) 15:36, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
@Batvette: - please provide exact quotes. starship.paint (talk) 15:46, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
Please stop your personal attacks. They are not useful. O3000 (talk) 15:49, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
The statement clearly refers to WHAT YOU ARE POSTING HERE, not who you are nor anything about your person. Such false accusations against editors are a lame form of deflection and demonstrate a lack of a competant arguement. (not a personal attack either)Batvette (talk) 16:34, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
Please stop your personal attacks. This is disruptive. O3000 (talk) 15:49, 19 May 2019 (UTC)

In light of the fact that 03000 asks this question in this thread "Do you believe that the FBI spied on the Trump campaign to alter the election in favor of Clinton? If so, please point to reliable sources. If not, what is your point?" And the WaPo RS furnished directly supports this assertion nearly verbatim in its lede paragraphs suggests an intent to troll this discussion. I will not further respond to such nonsense. This discussion appears to be going nowhere but neither am I. These boorish tactics will not serve you well when recorded for posterity on this page.Batvette (talk) 16:46, 19 May 2019 (UTC)

I see nothing in the WaPo lede that supports anything of the sort, and you have failed to provide any such quotes. And I ask a third time -- please stop your personal attacks. O3000 (talk) 16:54, 19 May 2019 (UTC)

Copy and paste this alleged personal attack on the appropriate admin page. Your disruption of this talk page violates numerou wiki policies and insults my intelligence with its childish incompetance. (Now lets walk through why thats not a personal attack. If so I would say 03000 is childish and incompetant. But I nor anyone reading this page really give a damn about you and once I sign off you are forgotten. So a personal attack is a waste of my time and its bizarre to display such self importance by accusing me of engaging in it. Rather I say YOUR DISRUPTION,i.e; "what you are doing here" is childish and incompetant. The distinction should be as obvious as knowing an adjective from an adverb. I hope this has been helpful and I do thank you for making me look like a pompous ass in educating you. (THAT is a personal attack on myself. See?)Batvette (talk) 17:26, 19 May 2019 (UTC) Sigh. The inspector general report cited an official, (the lead investigator of the Trump Russia investigation peter strzok) as having " a willingness to take official action to prevent donald trump from becoming president". Thats what it says and that article and the others provided say a lot more. Take it or leave it, your approval is hardly a prerequisite for me to get through my day. This is my last interaction with you. Batvette (talk) 17:38, 19 May 2019 (UTC)

This article is about Spygate. All I am seeing from you is claims that you are right accompanied by streams of insults. Nothing about a spy in Trump’s campaign to harm his electoral chances. O3000 (talk) 18:20, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
For there record this was users original request. "Do you believe that the FBI spied on the Trump campaign to alter the election in favor of Clinton?" and asked for RS. Unimpeachable RS provided with near verbatim passage at lede no less. Now changes request with sly word change (now its IN the campaign) but says NOTHING about it was furnished. User has continued bizarre false allegations about personal attacks even making threats on my talk page. Hes been challenged to copy and paste my words to whatever higher power he likes, as I am certain everyone given admin status at wiki reached a level of education to differentiate adjectives from adverbs. Comments by editors are content and thus their arguments and behaviour-but not who or what they are-are relevant to discussion. Users acknowledgement of this is neither necessary nor solicited. Topical relevance of this will be for other editors opposing this alleged consensus to see the level of discourse they should expect from certain (but not all) editors. Admin can see consensus has endured here due to persistent threats against editors, sophomoric debate tactics such as willful ignorance, moving goalposts, semantics,just plain being disruptive. And they can see the consensus cabal here seeks the lofty goal of forcing experienced editors away in utter disgust, finally understanding why academia unamimously rejects wiki for reference in scholarly work. Well done, and one obvious reality to note. Winning in politics requires convincing those opposing you or on the fence that your position is the more reasonable to hold. Not to display that your tactics are lower than theirs and drive them away with disgust. Trump thanks you for assisting in his 2020 reelection. Im going to take this as far as closing a 12 year old account and Im the winner. Wasted about 20 hours this week on this joke. He who rules a wiki article is the master of nothing.Batvette (talk) 19:56, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
New York Post and something called "CNS News" are NOT "unimpeachable RS". They're garbage.Volunteer Marek (talk) 23:27, 19 May 2019 (UTC)

Mr. Volunter Marek, you already voiced your disdain at these sources and to humor you my reply at 14:33, 19 May 2019 above mentioned you by name and additionally furnished a reference from the Washington Post. ALL of these news reports reference the report from the inspector general, I dont think questioning their worth on RS is a productive discussion when their use is to provide passages from a government report. In any case if you are going to butt in to my exchanges with other editors demanding I jump through hoops for your satisfaction, I think it would be nice of you to follow the discussion enough to notice that I acknowledged you and expended time and energy fulfilling your wishes.Batvette (talk) 06:25, 20 May 2019 (UTC)

As for your assertion that the NYPost is a "garbage source" Im afraid to tell you that you have a LOT of work ahead of you cleaning up wiki to your standards. Literally THOUSANDS of articles at least by estimate link to it for RS reference. So I think some editors disagree. Feel free to delete that part of your comment if you like.Batvette (talk) 06:55, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
WP:RSP - The New York Post is a tabloid newspaper with high circulation, and most editors prefer more reliable sources when available starship.paint (talk) 07:00, 20 May 2019 (UTC)

───────────────────────── Batvette - your WaPo source says The inspector general concluded that Strzok’s text, along with others disparaging Trump, “is not only indicative of a biased state of mind but, even more seriously, implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate’s electoral prospects.”. But you, Batvette, says that top FBI officials engaged in inappropriate behavior with the intent of hurting Trumps chances of winning the election. You have thoroughly misinterpreted the source. Willingness is not action. starship.paint (talk) 07:00, 20 May 2019 (UTC)

You, Batvette, also said regarding Strzok/Page that describing their actions were reported directly to the President, while earlier you said that that their activities were directly reporting to the white house. I cannot find this at all in the WaPo source. starship.paint (talk) 07:00, 20 May 2019 (UTC)

""Sounds like splitting hairs here. The assertion about reporting to the white house was in one of the other references.Batvette (talk) 01:03, 22 May 2019 (UTC)

  • I’m sorry guys, I’m at a loss here. What are we arguing about? Batvette and Shinealittlelight, is either of you making a specific proposal to change the article? R2 (bleep) 07:04, 20 May 2019 (UTC)

New approach: in-text attribution of "conspiracy theory"[edit]

I think it would be a good idea attribute descriptions of Spygate being a "conspiracy theory" to specific authors and their news organizations. I have started it off with [2] this edit. If you think Spygate is a conspiracy theory, do join in and add sources. starship.paint (talk) 07:23, 20 May 2019 (UTC)

I disagree with this approach on neutrality grounds (specifically, WP:YESPOV, "Do not treat facts as opinions" and WP:GEVAL) and WP:FRINGE. If reliable sources say that something is a conspiracy theory without contradiction, then we shouldn't attribute that in-text as that suggests that this is just a viewpoint and implies a false equivalence between reliable sources and unreliable, fringe views. This is especially important in this context because Trump has accused the reliable media of publishing "fake news" and being an "enemy of the people." We shouldn't play into that framing, which is contrary to how Wikipedia works. R2 (bleep) 17:54, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
Well, you know what I think. But I'll say it again very briefly here: there are two known news reports that use "CT": one from LA times, and one from Haaretz. The vast majority of other sources--you can find them in the list of sources that I and Starship.paint made on this page above--do not use this term, and tend to frame their reporting differently, where Trump is said to have made these unsubstantiated claims for political reasons. I think that NPOV requires us to frame the discussion like that as a result, and to use in-text attribution for the opinion that Spygate is a conspiracy theory. Sources also do not define 'spygate' univocally, and no one definition appears to be dominant, so that should affect our framing as well. @Starship.paint: how are you thinking about this? Shinealittlelight (talk) 18:11, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
@Shinealittlelight: I have seen some credence to your claim that sources treat Spygate differently (a bit differently, not a lot). But first we have to describe it in the article. Which is what I'm trying to do - to get a sense of what source is saying what. starship.paint (talk) 02:05, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
I object to Shinealittlelight's characterization of "conspiracy theory" as an "opinion." Maybe that was inadvertent wording, but it's not an opinion. Based on our verifiability policy, it's a verifiable fact. R2 (bleep) 18:15, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
I think you mean that you object to my characterization of the view that Spygate is a conspiracy theory as an opinion. But, although I do think that's an opinion, or contentious, or whatever word you want to use here, and although that's relevant to whether we can use "news analysis" pieces as a source (per the recent RSN discussion of that matter), my main point is that the vast majority of straight news sources frame the story as I indicated, and not as we are framing it, with such heavy emphasis on the conspiracy theory angle. I believe we also have some news reports stating that "conspiracy theory" has been the language preferred by democrats. Shinealittlelight (talk) 18:21, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
I think you mean that you object to my characterization of the view that Spygate is a conspiracy theory as an opinion. Yes, that's what I meant. R2 (bleep) 19:29, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
Agree with R2. Keep it simple. We had a well attended RfC that shows the consensus is behind calling this a conspiracy theory in the title. If so for the title, it's so for the text. O3000 (talk) 18:13, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
@Objective3000: It's the text that determines the title, not the other way around. Plus if you were confident that many sources call it a conspiracy theory, a ton of them would be attributed. That's pretty convincing in my view. Would you know that the article at present only cites Spygate as a conspiracy theory 4 times in the body? That's a low count in my book. starship.paint (talk) 02:05, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
I did not mean that as an explanation of process. Only that we just completed an RfC on the title, and as you say, the title wouldn't include that wording if not the text. I don't think counting the number of times a word exists in the text is that meaningful. Repetition is boring. O3000 (talk) 12:06, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
Nevertheless O3000, do you feel that adding more sources would help? starship.paint (talk) 13:59, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
I generally don't like WP:OVERCITE in an article. O3000 (talk) 01:08, 22 May 2019 (UTC)

@Ahrtoodeetoo: - WP:NPOV - Uncontested and uncontroversial factual assertions made by reliable sources should normally be directly stated in Wikipedia's voice. - I'd say the claim is far from uncontested and uncontroversial. This talk page is evidence enough. WP:GEVAL doesn't apply - we're not giving credence to minority opinions - we are describing the majority opinion. starship.paint (talk) 01:56, 21 May 2019 (UTC)

It's uncontested and uncontroversial as far as the reliable sources are concerned. I don't think that loud voices should change that. R2 (bleep) 03:45, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
@Ahrtoodeetoo: - if it is that uncontested, then help me and help readers, put in more reliable sources into the article saying that it is a conspiracy theory. Instead what you did is delete those reliable sources... the sources directly saying Spygate is a conspiracy theory. Here I am trying to add that "A/B/C/D/E called Spygate a conspiracy theory" and you are against that...? starship.paint (talk) 04:11, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
That's just not how neutrality works. See also WP:Citation overkill#In-article conflict. (Please, stop pinging me. I'm watching this page.) R2 (bleep) 04:21, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
Sorry about the pings. You've linked to a section about In-article conflict where it says Competing assertions with no context are not encyclopedic. But there is no conflict here at present. starship.paint (talk) 04:33, 21 May 2019 (UTC)

Current state of the article[edit]

The article's body currently only labels Spygate as a conspiracy theory four times.

  1. The stuff with @Nick_Falco.
    • In the New York magazine source, Spygate is indirectly called it a conspiracy theory in the source text and directly in the source title.
  2. Jon Meacham
    • In the source, Meacham calls it a conspiracy theory indirectly in the source text, while the source title from NYT calls directly in the source title
  3. Aaron Blake
    • In the source, directly called a conspiracy theory in the WaPo source text
  4. Zack Beauchamp, directly in the text
    • In the source, directly called a conspiracy theory in the Vox source text

Does anyone else not see this as a problem? If many many sources call Spygate a conspiracy theory, either we have one mention backed up with a ton of sources, or many mentions. We have neither at the moment. starship.paint (talk) 02:15, 21 May 2019 (UTC)

I'm sorry, I don't understand. In general we say things once, or possibly twice if it's in both the lead and the body. And it only needs one citation. R2 (bleep) 03:47, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
@Ahrtoodeetoo: - it's clear to me that this issue is controversial. There is a majority viewpoint and a minority (possibly even to the point of fringe, then it need not even be mentioned) viewpoint. But we can't simply have the majority viewpoint be attributed to one citation. We could say things twice (once in the lead and once in the body) if both directly say: Spygate is a conspiracy theory.[1][2][3][4][5]. But this isn't what it is in the article's body. starship.paint (talk) 04:05, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
As far as reliable sources are concerned there is no minority viewpoint. All reliable sources that have weighed in on whether Spygate is a conspiracy theory have concluded that it is. To me, that settles the matter conclusively. This reminds me of debates over whether so-and-so should be called a white supremacist, when some sources say that person is a white supremacist and some are silent on the matter. The consensus always ended up being yes. Except that this case has a fringe aspect because we have all sorts of people pushing a view not supported by the reliable sources, so it's especially important that we defend our core policies. R2 (bleep) 04:17, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
@Ahrtoodeetoo: - here's a question. Do you think it is beneficial, or harmful, to add even more reliable sources calling Spygate a conspiracy theory? starship.paint (talk) 04:19, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
It depends on how it's written, but in general it's harmful because it suggests a dispute where there should be none. R2 (bleep) 04:25, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
How then, can we add reliable sources in a beneficial manner? starship.paint (talk) 04:30, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
I'm all for adding more sources to this content in the body. It is the wording that pushes it one way or the other. Just state that it's a conspiracy theory and provide 3-4 good sources. Then we're finished there and here. -- BullRangifer (talk) 05:54, 21 May 2019 (UTC)


  1. Argumentation and Advocacy - Prof Ryan Neville-Shepard - April 20, 2019: Trump has now jumped from one conspiracy theory to another at a dizzying rate ... law enforcement officials of infiltrating the campaign
  2. Springer Nature / Palgrave Macmillan - Prof Daniel C. Hellinger - September 21, 2018: This chapter reviews some of the most political controversial conspiracy theories, including ... illegal surveillance of Trump’s campaign (“Spygate”)
  3. ABC News - James Hill - June 8, 2018 "Spygate," his name for the unsubstantiated claim that the Obama Justice Department sent an undercover informant into the Trump campaign in an effort to sink his bid for president. As the so-called "Spygate" conspiracy simmers in the public debate, a fresh take on the matter boiled over on cable news earlier this week and eventually made its way to the president's Twitter feed, too ... the "ocunus lures" conspiracy ... this particular conspiracy theory - from the depths of Reddit to President Trump's Twitter feed
  4. Haaretz - no author - May 31, 2018: Trump’s latest conspiracy theory, “Spygate,” ... Trump and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani have been alleging that former President Obama placed “spies” in his presidential campaign as a means to gather intelligence for both Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration.
  5. Politico - Kyle Cheney - June 2, 2018: Trump’s conspiracy theory ... the president’s unsupported claim that Democrats and their sympathizers in the FBI embedded a spy in his 2016 campaign. and May 30, 2018: what the president dubbed “spygate” ... Trump’s spygate claim ... President Donald Trump’s claim that the FBI embedded a spy in his campaign for political purposes
  6. Los Angeles Times - Chris Megerian and Eli Stokols - May 30, 2018: The air seems to be going out of “Spygate. While President Trump still touts the unfounded claim that the Obama administration improperly spied on his 2016 campaign, senior Republican lawmakers have steered clear of the conspiracy theory.

@BullRangifer: - you want to choose? and word the actual text? starship.paint (talk) 08:12, 21 May 2019 (UTC)

@BullRangifer:The Haaretz and LA Times pieces are the cherries you're looking for. The Hellinger piece also calls the charge of Russian collusion a conspiracy theory. So you are probably going to want to count that as a non-reliable source, since I assume that you guys don't want to say that RS support the claim that the Mueller investigation was investigating a conspiracy theory. The ABC news source does say that the "ocunus lures" claim (that the FBI investigation of the campaign started all the way back in 2015) is a conspiracy theory, but it does not call Spygate itself a conspiracy theory, and seems to see these two claims (the "ocunus lures" claim and Spygate) as separate claims. Politico is obviously a partisan source. I can't tell what I think about the first source listed; I can't gain access to it. I wish I could get the broader context of the quote you provided. Shinealittlelight (talk) 12:01, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
Hmmm, I found the Neville-Shepard article here, and it does not contain the quote you provided. Where did you get that quote? Shinealittlelight (talk) 12:15, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
@Shinealittlelight: - at the top of page 15 on your link. It's a truncated quote, notice the "..." in the middle. starship.paint (talk) 13:45, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
Ok, apologies, my search didn't turn that up for some reason. Thanks for pointing it out. I do think that this author is calling Spygate a conspiracy theory. However, he is basing his claim on Rachel Maddow's blog (see his citation), so I wouldn't use it. Shinealittlelight (talk) 13:58, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
I would suggest avoiding relying on any sources describing Spygate as a "conspiracy theory" that are from 2018 or older, regardless of the source. Recall that many of these left leaning outlets actually believed that the Trump campaign likely conspired with Russia to influence the election. After that turned out to be false, there has been a sea change in the reporting - which I would suggest is why editors here are going far "back in time" to find these references. And in any case, it is silly and absurd to continue to claim it as a conspiracy theory to doubt that the predication of the Russia investigation was in the clear, when AG Barr has implied many times that it was not, and various reviews, investigations, and criminal referrals are being done on the matter. Wookian (talk) 15:50, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
Actually, you've got it backwards. This subject has a specific historical context from May 2018 (describing events which happened in 2016), and it is the sources from May 2018 and before which are the most relevant.
Later sources describe later attempts to expand use of the term Spygate and spying to any and all investigations and surveillance of the Trump campaign. That's a different topic worthy of its own article. Here's a title suggestion: Trump's accusations of "spying" used to undermine Mueller investigation. There are plenty of RS covering that. Go for it. -- BullRangifer (talk) 16:03, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
Wookian, I'm aware of no such sea change, but if you have evidence of such a sea change I'd like to learn about it, for WP editing and personal reasons. Please hit me up on my user talk if you're interested. R2 (bleep) 16:18, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
I couldn't disagree more with the narrative that "spygate" had a clear narrow meaning to start with, and has been broadened in meaning over time. In fact, as I've repeatedly emphasized (with evidence!), the term was ambiguous from the beginning in RSs, sometimes with a narrow, sometimes a broader meaning. And, from the beginning, lots of RSs framed the discussion along the lines of "Trump has made these unsubstantiated claims, which he is using to cast a negative light on the investigation". This has been a much more common framing than the "conspiracy theory" frame, which to my way of thinking has been cherry picked from the LA Times and Haaretz reports. Shinealittlelight (talk) 16:23, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
I think we're talking about different things, and thus "talking past each other." This whole thing is about Trump's original comments and tweets in which he reframed Halper's interactions with three campaign members in a false light.
There are several angles from which RS choose to approach the subject, and the "conspiracy theory" description is one angle, describing how the false aspects created a conspiracy theory with several false elements.
Many sources obviously approach this by describing the central (true) pillar (conspiracy theories are usually built around certain true facts), which is the undeniable fact that there was surveillance, and that's what they deal with, without any analysis of how this was reframed in a false light by Trump.
There is no inherent conflict between these different angles. They are just describing the same thing from different angles. Don't make it so complicated. We aren't in any real disagreement. -- BullRangifer (talk) 17:50, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
If you're right, and there isn't a substantial difference between the two ways of framing (or angles on) the story, it's nevertheless still true that framing is important, and that framing can be more or less neutral, right? And here's how we should choose the frame: we should follow the vast majority of RSs. But that's not conspiracy theory framing. It's the (frankly also partisan, left-leaning, but nevertheless RS-supported) frame that he was just saying this stuff to discredit the Mueller investigation. Shinealittlelight (talk) 18:08, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
Motivations are not really relevant. It's a conspiracy theory no matter why it has been spread. O3000 (talk) 18:32, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
There is still no inherent disagreement. Both aspects are true, just seen from different angles, and we should neutrally describe what those RS say. By "neutrally", I'm referring to NPOV, which means that neither the sources nor content need be neutral. It is editors who must be neutral in the way they document what those sources say by not getting in the way, by not creating an artificial balance, and not censoring or whitewashing. I have written a well-sourced essay about this, if you're curious: NPOV means neutral editors, not neutral content. -- BullRangifer (talk) 18:50, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
Maybe I agree, I just think we should weight the two aspects based on RS. And that means way less weight to "CT" and way more to the other frame. "CT" is way overweighted relative to RSs. Shinealittlelight (talk) 01:51, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
@Shinealittlelight: - succintly, what is frame 2? False claim? Unsubstantiated claim? Something else? starship.paint (talk) 04:04, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
@Starship.paint: something like "These claims were unsubstantiated, and (critics say) were made to discredit the Mueller investigation." For example, see this framing in AP here: [3]. Sometimes you get attribution to critics, sometimes not. Shinealittlelight (talk) 13:25, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
here is CBS for an example of the same framing but with attribution to "critics". Shinealittlelight (talk) 13:29, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
Can you explain where you see this? Seems to me that article pretty much ridicules Trump’s claims of a “major spy scandal” (their scare quotes). O3000 (talk) 13:41, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
These are news reports from central reliable sources. They aren't ridiculing anything. The framing is obvious and in the first sentences; it isn't hard to find. Shinealittlelight (talk) 14:12, 22 May 2019 (UTC)

─────────────────────────@Shinealittlelight: - I don’t have a problem with Frame 2 if you can find the sources, but my thinking is why not have both Frame 1 and Frame 2? They can both be in the lede. Also, you threw out one academic source because it called Russian collusion a conspiracy theory? Well, going by a dictionary definition of conspiracy theory - a theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators - I would say it certainly could be interpreted that Russian collusion is a conspiracy theory. starship.paint (talk) 14:13, 22 May 2019 (UTC)

Sorry Starship.paint, but our article on the general topic of conspiracy theories sources to RS the fact that the term is a pejorative, and of course that's right. Not every theory about a conspiracy is a conspiracy theory in the intended sense. For example, the theory that Alexander the Great was involved in a conspiracy to murder his father is not a conspiracy theory in the sense of this article, even though it is a theory about a conspiracy, and even though it is probably forever unknowable. It's not a conspiracy theory because it's a historically respectable theory, one that historians can reasonably discuss. Not so CS in our sense. Anyway, would you agree that the frames should be weighted in the article according to their prominence in RS? If so, then we are on the same page on that issue, and although I don't have time to do it today, I will try to lay out the sources that I think support frame 2. Shinealittlelight (talk) 16:20, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
@Shinealittlelight: - You're using the Wikipedia article on conspiracy to justify your interpretation of the source. I'm not saying my interpretation is correct, I'm merely saying my interpretation is possible, since the author doesn't explain. In the article body, yes, we should weigh it per RS. Not commenting on the lede or title yet until I see the actual weightage. starship.paint (talk) 23:41, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
No way, not possible in ordinary English. In ordinary speech, CT is X-files kind of stuff. Anyway, on weightage, I agree. I'll review and report when I get a chance. Shinealittlelight (talk) 00:10, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
I disagree with Wookian that every source should be from 2019, but I do think it would be a good idea for at least one of them to be from the more recent crop in order to address these sorts of "look what's happened in the meantime" concerns (which I believe are OR, but whatever). As I see it, the leading contenders are GQ, Esquire, and the Independent. I don't particularly care which one we use. Thanks to starship.paint for digging these up. R2 (bleep) 16:32, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
Let’s go with The Independent. So now we’re looking at a minimum of LA Times, Haaretz and Independent. How can we word this in the article? starship.paint (talk) 04:01, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
Just wondering if this fits into the scope of this article.[4] The Guardian called Trump’s claim that British intelligence helped the Obama Administration spy on his 2016 campaign a conspiracy theory. O3000 (talk) 13:55, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
More like Donald Trump's accusations of "spying" starship.paint (talk) 14:16, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
I don’t think a source has to use the Safirism “Spygate” to be seen as talking about Spygate. Innumerable articles at the time of Watergate didn’t use that term. O3000 (talk) 14:22, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
In my view, you would be hard pressed to justify not including every single “spy” claim once you allow this. starship.paint (talk) 14:27, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
Well, Trump throws around the term spy with slightly different phrasing. But, it's all the same. It's a conspiracy theory that Obama had the FBI spy on his campaign to help Clinton, with no evidence. It's interesting that some of his critics provide an opinion as to his motives. But, I don't really think that's a needed addition. I think we're trying to get too detailed and the current article is correct. O3000 (talk) 16:34, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
  • I've made a serious proposal above for including material from an investigative journalist (John Solomon) that would reflect what I believe is a needed course correction to this article - i.e. providing some of the background info that leads (the many!) Spygate accusers to believe that the Russia investigation and its related surveillance was improperly predicated. Well, Solomon was shot down for being an "opinion source" even though my proposal was to use his work only for the non-opinion parts of it. Nobody can deny that he deals in original sources, and I haven't seen any serious refutation of the investigative journalism pieces I linked to. Anyway, in the context of that, it is disappointing to see editors above suggest use of opinion pieces out of GQ and Esquire. And not just use of opinion pieces, but specifically use of them to establish the opinion (not fact) that Spygate is a conspiracy theory. Am I missing something here? Is this what is referred to as "wikilawyering" i.e. achieving a non-encyclopedic outcome (partisan opinion elevated over well sourced fact)? Wookian (talk) 21:24, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
No, just a misunderstanding of WP:RS. Please, if you're keen to discuss John Solomon, that discussion is still open above. The GQ and Esquire sources are not opinion pieces, nor is a statement that something is a conspiracy theory an opinion. "Conspiracy theory" is a well-defined term that has a precise meaning, and one can readily distinguish conspiracy theories from other theories without consulting one's personal desires or emotions. R2 (bleep) 21:50, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
Yes, Wookian, please realize that RSN consensus has determined that men's fashion magazines and also entertainment magazines who (bizarrely) comment on politics from a left-wing perspective are due to be cited in these sorts of articles, while opinion pieces in the respected political publication The Hill are not to be used, even when attributed, and even when they express a prominent and well-discussed point of view. We must have standards! Shinealittlelight (talk) 22:40, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
Thanks for the laugh, Shinealittlelight. I realize you're being sarcastic and serious at the same time - and that while WP's rules may not be perfect and may not always result in encyclopedic outcomes in the real world, they still have to be followed. It's my understanding, having read through the RS guidelines, that there is no 100% hard prohibition on use of opinion material, and that there would be at least room to cite investigative reporting such as Solomon's with attribution by name, in cases where his/her investigative reporting is widely circulated and clearly regarded as serious journalism (which his certainly is, see frequency on RCP). Nobody has to agree with me, however if there is any serious intent to use the GQ and Esquire pieces, I will take the time to demonstrate why they can be regarded as opinion pieces, because the irony here just perplexes me. Wookian (talk) 01:32, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
Wookian, you write: "his/her investigative reporting is widely circulated and clearly regarded as serious journalism." Solomon's "reporting" (conspiracy mongering) is nearly exclusively circulated on fringe and unreliable sources. The Hill is the closest he gets to a RS. Why they allow him to publish his garbage is beyond me. Yes, he does get some scoops, but they are usually tidbits which he makes seem more important than they are. Maybe that's why actual RS don't report on them. When RS occasionally do start reporting on them, that's when I use what I originally found in his column, and I don't cite him, but the RS. That has happened, but very rarely. He is so fringe that his stuff has no weight here. When multiple RS discuss the same topic, then it gets weight and we cite them. -- BullRangifer (talk) 15:53, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
He's not fringe, he just tends (at present) to be right leaning in his selection of topics for his investigative journalism. His work certainly isn't "garbage." Wookian (talk) 16:43, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
It's certainly no Esquire or GQ, if you know what I mean. Shinealittlelight (talk) 17:02, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
Maybe I should clarify. He's fringe in the sense that he pushes a very partisan agenda by ignoring facts and being counterfactual. He does it all the time. When we have several sources, including opinions, we distribute the weight we give them by considering only those which get the facts right, even if they hold differing opinions. If they get the facts wrong or are so partisan that they ignore facts and continue pushing their agenda, facts be damned, we do not give their opinions any weight at all. They are extremely partisan sources. Solomon is in the Hannity, Breitbart, Limbaugh class, and they get no weight here. They can be used as RS for their own opinions in their own articles, and that's all. -- BullRangifer (talk) 21:59, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
No way, he's not in the same class as those guys. His professional experience and the fact that his work is published by The Hill distinguish him from those others. Your view is that you know better than the editors of The Hill. My view is that we have to assume that you do not, since we know basically nothing about you. Joking aside, this is also why it's so silly that we take GQ and the like seriously, as if the editors of that publication are trustworthy on politics. Shinealittlelight (talk) 22:05, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
Also, most of us would say that op-eds from partisan perspectives that we don't share "ignore facts" and assert falsehoods. So what, that's opinion for you. That doesn't distinguish him from any other opinion source. Shinealittlelight (talk) 22:12, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
True, opinion can be used with attribution normally. However, in Solomon's case, we unpaid, anonymous volunteers with no stated qualifications know better than the editors of The Hill, and the consensus among us is that his opinion cannot be cited, even with attribution. Perhaps if he got a job at a men's fashion magazine, or perhaps in the entertainment media, we could revisit the issue. Shinealittlelight (talk) 02:02, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
There seems to be a disconnect. You guys are getting feedback at RSN, and then you come back here and misrepresent it. No matter...these sorts of complaints divide us, rather than bring us together, and are therefore mildly disruptive. Please stop. If you want to bitch about your fellow editors’ views, please do do elsewhere. R2 (bleep) 02:26, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
Well, I wasn't trying to misrepresent. I was trying to accurately represent the consensus about Solomon. If you think something I said wasn't true, I'd be glad to receive your correction. Shinealittlelight (talk) 02:31, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
On the other hand, I ask you to strike your accusation if you cannot identify a misrepresentation. Shinealittlelight (talk) 02:34, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
If you find it disruptive for editors to suggest a shift in weighting of sources away from edgy entertainment outlets to hard hitting investigative journalism, then perhaps you should take the opportunity to stop, reflect on how we got to this place, and from there how we might improve the article. Asking me to be quiet about these concerns is a non starter. Highlighting a disagreement and making the case for one side is often a step in building consensus, and no one should feel threatened by that process. Wookian (talk) 03:18, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
I don’t. More misrepresentation. R2 (bleep) 04:11, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
From what I see on RSN, it's not that Solomon is rejected due to solely being an opinion author, what the rejections are saying he's an opinion author with no journalistic credibility. starship.paint (talk) 05:16, 23 May 2019 (UTC)

───────────────────────── ... and again we've been sidetracked. Can we add the sources above to the article first, then we can have another section on John Solomon, okay? Now let's look again at Haaretz / Los Angeles Times / Independent, we've identified that these are the best sources for the statement that Spygate is a conspiracy theory. Now, how shall this sentence, citing these three sources, be worded? starship.paint (talk) 05:23, 23 May 2019 (UTC)

Right, it is not that he's an opinion author, it's that the anonymous, amateur wikipedia editors here are overruling the professional judgment of the respected, professional editors of The Hill and claiming that Solomon does not deserve even an attributed citation. That's exactly what I said. I haven't misrepresented anything, and R2 should strike his own misrepresentation of me. Shinealittlelight (talk) 10:45, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
@Shinealittlelight: We do respect the judgment of The Hill. If the author has neutral credibility, they would get the benefit of the doubt. But what is being argued is that Solomon has negative credibility. Even the New York Times hired a climate skeptic [5] for their opinion columns. See what turned out. [6] [7] [8]. Solomon may be a former editor and former reporter, but that doesn't mean he automatically has positive or neutral credibility. This guy the NYT hired even won a Pulitzer before. That doesn't mean he can't publish bullshit. starship.paint (talk) 12:08, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
Of course we should cite Stephens's NYT opinion pieces, with attribution, if they met other criteria for inclusion. Again, in a contest between the editorial judgment of the NYT and the editorial judgment of the volunteers here at Wikipedia, the NYT should win, obviously. Similarly, on the other side, I'd happily cite Dan Rather's Atlantic opinion piece with attribution, even though I and many others regard him as a disgraced reporter, because I defer to the editors of the Atlantic. I'm probably going to refer to Brian Williams later, despite his foibles, because he continues to work for NBC, and while that mars NBC in my opinion, it isn't enough to regard them as non-RS. (Of course I expect that nobody here would balk at Rather or Williams.) Look, the way this place works, you guys can and have overruled me on this matter. But don't tell me I'm misrepresenting. You members of the consensus against Solomon think you know better than the editors of The Hill when it comes to Solomon. That's your view. And the same editors who want to exclude attributed Solomon citations are eager to cite Men's fashion and entertainment media. I'm highlighting the weirdness of this view, sure, and I certainly think it's embarrassing that this is the consensus. But it's not a misrepresentation. And if anyone who signed on to this view now feels embarrassed, then feel free to change your statement at RSN at any time. Meanwhile, I don't see how we can just ignore the fact that this is where we are, and it isn't a crime on my part to simply state the consensus, embarrassing as it is. Shinealittlelight (talk) 12:24, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
@Shinealittlelight: - Now, I think I didn't discuss Solomon on RSN, so you're probably not referring to me there. I don't know Rather or Williams, so I can't comment (I'm not American). Now, I would just like to point out that yes, the editorial judgment of Wikipedians should override the editorial judgment of the New York Times. Let's just assume, that the New York Times is the best source in the world. Yet, one day, if the New York Times prints a fringe theory in a news article, then I guess that means that their editorial board approved it, right? But we wouldn't necessarily cite it if it's a fringe theory. Thus, the editorial judgement of Wikipedia overrides the editorial judgment of the New York Times. That's how it is. starship.paint (talk) 12:52, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
I don't disagree that this is how it is, and indeed this has been part of my point. I do disagree strongly that this is how it should be. And I wish to repeat that I have not misrepresented anything. We may leave the matter here if you like. Shinealittlelight (talk) 13:22, 23 May 2019 (UTC)

───────────────────────── ... and again we've been sidetracked. Deja vu all over again. Can we add these sources to the article? Haaretz / Los Angeles Times / Independent, okay? Can we decide on a wording? Please? starship.paint (talk) 12:54, 23 May 2019 (UTC)

@Starship.paint: I thought the wording you used before, and that was removed by R2, was fine, but with the sources adjusted. I don't see what was wrong with that wording. If there is now consensus to put it back in with these citations in place of the previous ones, then do it. Shinealittlelight (talk) 13:30, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
R2, you rejected the previous wording, would you like to craft something you like? Thanks. starship.paint (talk) 13:34, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
Objective3000, BullRangifer, and I believe there should be no change in the wording. To us, the selection of sources is just a matter of choosing which sources we use to cite the words "conspiracy theory." R2 (bleep) 22:06, 23 May 2019 (UTC)

Indy100 vs. Independent[edit]

The first reference in the body of the article is currently a reference to a site called Indy100. See that reference here. There is a short discussion on RSN suggesting that this is not a reliable source and that it is not the same thing as The Independent (which is how it is currently credited in this article). See here for this RSN discussion: [9]. Any thoughts? I wasn't exactly sure how beste to proceed. Shinealittlelight (talk) 23:57, 20 May 2019 (UTC)

Alright... we should replace it then. I'm likely the one who added it, I didn't know it wasn't well received. I'm okay with removing it, then the wiretap allegations can go under Max Boot. starship.paint (talk) 01:51, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
I did some research on this. Indy 100 a very borderline publication. I think I place it just barely on the reliable side due to the fact that other reliable sources have cited it positively at least a handful of times. However we have better sources, so if in doubt I agree it should be removed and replaced with something better. R2 (bleep) 03:50, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
Well, I'm not going to fix it; I think that whole opening section is ridiculous. If you're going to replace it with opinion sources, they need to be attributed. The clear consensus at RSN is that Indy100 is unreliable clickbait. I don't think R2's view that it's barely reliable should overturn that consensus; the unreliable clickbait needs to come out asap--remember BLP. Shinealittlelight (talk) 12:09, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
I removed it. Just would like to note that in this particular scenario, I don’t think BLP is the right policy to cite because I’m sure there actually are sources out there saying Trump promoted all these conspiracy theories, only that they didn’t link to Spygate, so we won’t include it without a link. starship.paint (talk) 13:38, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
Thank you, I'll ask a followup question about BLP on your talk page. Shinealittlelight (talk) 14:02, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
I don’t think two editors at RSN constitute a clear consensus, nor did I suggest that so-called consensus should be overturned. I agreed with you that the Indy 100 source be removed. A word of advice: don’t pick fights with editors you agree with on content just because you disagree with their reasoning. R2 (bleep) 15:20, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
OK, sorry. Reasonable points. I will try to do better on that. Shinealittlelight (talk) 15:26, 21 May 2019 (UTC)


This article is a train wreck and probably exhibit A as to why Wikipedia isn't equipped to handle breaking political news. The bias here toward the null hypothesis combined with the reliance on aspirationally definitive yet completely out of date sources results in complete garbage. This whole thing should be deleted until U.S. Attorneys John Huber and John Durham release their respective reports. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Deletion can be proposed through the WP:AFD process. R2 (bleep) 03:06, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
I completely agree that this article is garbage and should be deleted.Wcmcdade (talk) 14:40, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
I third that. If not some of its content should be merged with an actual spygate page, or whatever it should be called.Batvette (talk) 22:15, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
The article Trump's accusations of "spying" used to undermine investigations is thataway. Go for it and write the article you want. There you can document all the ways Trump uses the terms "spying" and "Spygate" to undermine the various investigations on him and his campaign's suspicious activities. Remember to use one section to discuss Spygate (conspiracy theory). You can use the lead from here and then leave a "main" hatnote pointing to this article. That's how it's done around here. -- BullRangifer (talk) 23:22, 22 May 2019 (UTC)

@Batvette, Wcmcdade, and - Wikipedia:Articles for deletion#Nominating article(s) for deletion and Donald Trump's accusations of "spying". Here you go. starship.paint (talk)

These guys are just the peanut gallery. R2 (bleep) 23:57, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
Interesting comment since you harangued me at length on my user talk page about my alleged personal attacks, virtually none of which were. So let your own post stand as a primer for personal attacks. No discussion of content, nor criticism of the actions of editors, its sole function is to denigrate the person of fellow wikipedians. Well done.Batvette (talk) 21:50, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

John Solomon Part 2[edit]

If you want to include Jon Solomon, it would be helpful to propose the exact text to be inserted in the article citing him. Wookian, you've advocated for him, here's the platform for you. starship.paint (talk) 05:26, 23 May 2019 (UTC)

I don't see how Solomon could be included given the consensus at RSN that, contrary to the editors at The Hill, he is beyond the pale. Again, we have to follow RSN consensus (don't we?), and that consensus favors adding sources like left-leaning men's fashion magazines and left-leaning entertainment news outlets, but not these opinion pieces from The Hill by a former editor of The Washington Times and former AP reporter, even with attribution. We'd have to change that consensus if we wanted to add Solomon. Shinealittlelight (talk) 10:49, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
Shine, I'm not sure how many times you've written that comment (expressing what you see as an ironic(?) situation) on this page, but it's getting tiring. We don't give any weight to counterfactual sources which deny or ignore facts in order to push their agenda. Solomon is in that class of formerly decent journalists who have sold their souls to dubious causes and abandoned decent journalistic principles.
Opinion and seriously non-opinion articles in entertainment magazines get far more weight than fringe and counterfactual sources, as they should, because they are at least getting the facts right. Many "non-news" magazines, like Vanity Fair, feature hard-hitting journalism and excellent opinion articles in nearly every issue. Playboy is a classic example. We'd consider a high-quality article in Playboy by a famous author or journalist a very RS, even though it's in a "girlie magazine." Even some TEEN magazines carry serious journalism. Here's an op-ed from Teen Vogue that's excellent: Trump is Gaslighting America. Again, if they at least get the facts right, their opinions can get some weight here.-- BullRangifer (talk) 22:28, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
It sounds to me as if you're agreeing with everything I said in my above comment, and adding some arguments for the view that I called the consensus. The arguments are unpersuasive, but this isn't really the place. As I said, the current consensus would have to be challenged at RSN, and no such challenge is going to be successful, since a sufficient number of editors such as yourself trust your own judgment over that of the editors at The Hill. Shinealittlelight (talk) 23:15, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you mean by "over that of the editors at The Hill", a phrase you have used several times. I wasn't aware that The Hill vouched for what he writes. He just has a column there, like a lot of others. It's practically his blog. (HuffPost also hosts many columnists in this manner, without any editorial oversight.) Editors here have to use editorial judgment as to which ones are worth using and which are not. Some may be reliable subject experts, and then there are those like Solomon whom we shouldn't use. There is no fact checking of his column by The Hill, he's extremely partisan, and it's very similar to the content found on unreliable sources. -- BullRangifer (talk) 00:15, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
Can you cite a recent example of counterfactual reporting by Solomon? Reading your wild claims about him suggests to me more than anything that you are not familiar with his work. Since I'm trying to AGF, is it possible you are mistaking him for someone else? Wookian (talk) 02:35, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
The editors at The Hill publish his op-eds. They state, like with all their opinion contributors, that they are not the opinions of the editors. But they obviously regard the content as worthy of their publication. They wouldn't publish Alex Jones, for example, in this way. So they exercise their editorial judgment about which opinion pieces to put out. You think they should not be putting out Solomon's stuff. So you trust your judgment over theirs.
Another thing: when something is published at Teen Vogue, GQ, or whatever, I think it should be treated as self-published material, since obviously the Teen Vogue editors (unlike the editors of The Hill) have no relevant expertise. We can still cite self-published materials when the author meets various criteria. We can't do it, though, as a source for third-party information about a living person, per WP:SPS. So such sources are largely inadmissible here if I'm right. Shinealittlelight (talk) 19:00, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
We'll just have to agree to disagree about Solomon. As for Teen Vogue and GQ, there is no way to consider articles there as "self-published". They are primary and secondary sources.
If someone has a website and they publish an article there, then it's SPS. If the author of an article in a magazine was also the owner of the magazine, then SPS may or may not apply, but generally no. We'd treat it like an editorial, IOW opinion. If they are subject experts, we are allowed to use SPS. -- BullRangifer (talk) 01:11, 25 May 2019 (UTC)

How reliable sources present the spygate story[edit]

@Starship.paint: I'm staying on task here! Here's my report of the sources that frame the story as I've suggested. I will label, but remember that the labels here differ from those in our previous discussion of sources. Also note that, because the presentation here is pretty lengthy, I'm not going to present quotes of every place where they say "unsubstantiated" or the like. But have a look for yourself: these pieces almost always tend to call Spygate unsubstantiated or without evidence instead of false. Moreover, the term 'conspiracy theory' is nearly absent from these sources, and is never directly applied to Spygate.

[A] NBC News states Trump has been referring to the FBI's use of an informant as "spygate" in what critics contend is an effort to discredit the initial investigation into the president's campaign and undermine special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing probe.
[B] ABC News states In recent days the president, in tandem with his allies in conservative media, has launched a full frontal attack on special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. Earlier this week, he called for an investigation of Mueller's investigation and alleged the FBI spied on his campaign, a story he described as “bigger than Watergate.” But the president has provided no evidence to support his allegations.
[C] BBC News states President Trump calls it "Spygate" and a Deep State conspiracy against him. His critics warn it's a distraction tactic and an effort to undermine trust in the investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Russia.
[D] CBS News states President Donald Trump escalated his efforts to discredit the Russia investigation Wednesday, saying the FBI has been caught in a "MAJOR spy scandal" over their use of a secret informant to determine whether some of Mr. Trump's campaign aides were working with Russia ahead of the 2016 election.
[E] AP states President Donald Trump has branded his latest attempt to discredit the special counsel’s Russia investigation as “spygate,” part of a newly invigorated strategy embraced by his Republican colleagues to raise suspicions about the probe that has dogged his presidency since the start.
[F] Brian Williams at MSNBC stated WILLIAMS: President Trump has seized on this new branding effort to discredit the Russia investigation. He declared on Twitter today, quote, “Spygate could be one of the biggest political scandals in history.”
[G] Reuters reports the frame in Flake's words: Republican U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, who has not ruled out running against Donald Trump for the White House, on Sunday criticized as a “diversion tactic” the president’s unsubstantiated allegation last week of an FBI “spy” being planted in his election campaign.
[H] CJR repeats the AP story, giving it still more weight: President Trump’s use of the term “spygate” to describe his latest attempt to discredit Robert Mueller’s investigation is part of “a newly invigorated strategy embraced by his Republican colleagues to raise suspicions about the probe that has dogged his presidency since the start.”
[I] NPR states ...amid a concerted effort by Trump and conservative supporters to discredit that investigation. The president has accused the investigation of being a partisan "witch hunt" and the investigators of being "conflicted." There is a hashtag devoted to what the president and his allies are calling "SPYGATE" that the president himself is using. Trump boasted that it "could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!"
[J] Glen Kessler first in The Washington Post, and then reprinted in The Chicago Tribune says: President Trump, in a continuing effort to discredit the criminal investigation into his campaign's possible links with Russia entities, has now seized on "spygate."
[K] New York Magazine says Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani confirmed on Sunday that the president and his allies’ attempts to discredit the Mueller investigation — including the most recent so-called Spygate controversy — are part of a public relations campaign aimed at staving off impeachment.
[L] WaPo says Trump alleged the FBI treated him unfairly in 2016 by not tipping him off that his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was under investigation ... Such complaints are part of Trump’s overall strategy to discredit the Russia investigation by portraying special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his team of prosecutors as partisan operatives determined to destroy his presidency ... Lately, Trump has been using a sinister catchphrase, “Spygate,” to refer to the FBI’s intelligence-gathering efforts...
[M] NYT says He demanded a Justice Department inquiry of the matter and named the matter “SPYGATE” in repeated posts on Twitter. Mr. Ryan became the highest-ranking Republican to throw cold water on that interpretation, which Democrats and former high-level law enforcement officials have claimed is part of an unrelenting effort to discredit the open investigation into Mr. Trump and his campaign.
[N] USA Today says Then he coined a term to try to discredit the Mueller investigation: "SPYGATE."

Overall, then, I'd say this is a pretty impressive list of central RS, and it shows that the dominant framing of this story in the media has been that Trump made unusbstantiated claims about spying and pushed the idea of a scandal that he branded "Spygate," in order to discredit the Mueller investigation. Shinealittlelight (talk) 14:20, 23 May 2019 (UTC)

Yeah, just like Pizzagate -- a conspiracy theory. O3000 (talk) 14:24, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
No, O3K, what I'm saying is that these sources didn't say it was a conspiracy theory, and didn't compare it to Pizzagate, but chose to frame the story in a different way than that. Good to know you think it should be framed as a conspiracy theory like Pizzagate. I'm not aware of RS that makes that comparison. Shinealittlelight (talk) 14:32, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
What does the Christian Science Monitor (CSM), Wall Street Journal, New York Post, and other newspapers that have a different bias (or almost no bias in the case of the CSM) say about it? And how about the books that have been written about it? I notice that Wikipedia editors often overlook books because they can't be easily looked up on the Web- you have to buy them or check them out from the library. AppliedCharisma (talk) 14:46, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
I’m not saying RS compared it to Pizzagate. I said it’s a theory about a conspiracy with no evidence, like Pizzagate. And, I believe most RS didn’t use the specific term “conspiracy theory” about Pizzagate either. O3000 (talk) 14:52, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
O3000 - your initial comment certainly wasn't clear on this. It wasn't helpful in my opinion. starship.paint (talk) 15:08, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
Sorry, but I don't find these long discussions suggesting that Spygate was an actual scandal helpful. -gate means scandal. When it is misused, it is a conspiracy theory, not a scandal. O3000 (talk) 15:15, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
Once again, a serious problem with many of these old and out of date articles is that President Trumps campaign DIDN'T conspire with Russia to influence the election, so his "interference" takes on a new light after the Mueller report's release. AG Barr admitted that if he had been in Trump's position he would have shared the view that the Russia investigation was a "witch hunt" - which sounds like an even stronger claim than that the spying was improperly predicated. That the NYT and WaPo reporters shared a Pulitzer prize for pushing the false narrative of Russia collusion is, in hindsight, a journalistic embarrassment. Why are we prolonging that false narrative (and thus prolonging the journalistic embarrassment) by pushing these old articles? Wookian (talk) 14:57, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
The Mueller Report was about Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, which absolutely occurred. It also detailed obstruction of justice. It specifically stated that it was not about “collusion”. I don’t know what Pulitzer Prize you are talking about or why it would matter if it existed as you say. I don’t know what “false narrative” you are referring to. The “false narrative” discussed in this article is that there was an Obama/FBI conspiracy to harm the Trump candidacy by planting a spy in the campaign. There is no evidence of such. O3000 (talk) 15:04, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
There are several moving parts here... part of our disagreement is over the definition of the term "Spygate." My definition would be more along the lines of Philip Rucker's WaPo article quoted above as "L" in Shine's list: "Lately, Trump has been using a sinister catchphrase, 'Spygate,' to refer to the FBI’s intelligence-gathering efforts at the outset of its Russia interference investigation." And from the same article: "He accuses the FBI of infiltrating his campaign with spies." If you use that more general definition of Spygate, recognizing as AG Barr does that investigating an opponent's political campaign requires solid predication which is not clear that they had -- then you have the basis for a scandal, as is currently being investigated. Post-Mueller report there is no "conspiracy theory" to it. Prior to the Mueller report there shouldn't have been either, however there was sort of a feeding frenzy on the political left. Charitably, we would suppose many journalists really believed there was illegal conspiracy with Russia to influence the election, but in any case, they were obviously wrong about that. Wookian (talk) 15:40, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
Wookian, you write: "investigating an opponent's political campaign requires solid predication which is not clear that they had." There is loads of "predication". There were a number of reasons why the investigations into the Russian's "sweeping and systematic" election interference led to suspicion, investigations, and surveillance of the Trump campaign.
I suggest you study the background for the Trump-Russia investigations. Trump campaign members had no legitimate reasons to be holding so many secret meetings with known Russian agents and then lying repeatedly about it. We know they weren't talking about the weather because we know they were discussing election interference. How do we know? Because, starting in August 2015, and before U.S. intelligence agencies started any investigations, they began to receive alarming reports from eight foreign intelligence agencies (United Kingdom, Germany, Estonia, Poland, Australia, France, a Baltic state, and Holland) describing overheard conversations between known Russian agents and Trump campaign members. The conversations "formed a suspicious pattern", and while their nature is known by intelligence agencies, it has not been revealed to the public. I have collected more evidence and sources here (this is spread around in our articles):
This foreign surveillance made some totally incidental and unintentional discoveries. The Trump campaign members were not under surveillance, but the Russian spies they were talking to were indeed under surveillance. This was the earliest recent evidence of active collusion between the campaign and Russians, and lots more was to come. (Strictly speaking, in 2013 (before Americans knew about his plans), when Trump and Russians were discussing him starting to run for president in 2015, and that the Russians promised to help him, that was earlier.)
I'm not sure how much more "predication" would satisfy you, but, based on what the Trump campaign was doing then, and Trump's weird relationship with Putin now, there was and is plenty of good reason to be suspicious and suspect collusion.
Giuliani said it best: "I never said there was no collusion between the campaign, or people in the campaign. I said the President of the United States. There is not a single bit of evidence the President of the United States committed the only crime you can commit here, conspiring with the Russians to hack the DNC." -- BullRangifer (talk) 22:48, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
The Mueller Report spells out the predication for what actually occurred. And, there is no evidence of anything odd about the FISA requests, which were approved by multiple Republican judges. And if you want to be considered serious here, avoid phrases like: feeding frenzy on the political left. O3000 (talk) 15:44, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
If you want to be considered serious here, avoid phrases like: there is no evidence of anything odd about the FISA requests. The FISA applications included material from the Christopher Steele Dossier, claiming it to be trusted and verified. That is precisely some of what is being investigated now, so let's not pretend there's nothing odd there. The great thing is that ignorance is curable, so if you read some of Solomon's investigative journalism on the subject - documented directly from original sources, you can start to understand this.[10][11] Wookian (talk) 16:01, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
There is no evidence of anything odd about the FISA requests. None. That claim is a part of the conspiracy theory. The dossier was one bit of evidence; and its source was outlined to the judges. The Mueller Report established that there was Russian interference in the election, and that there were a huge number of connections between the Russians and the Trump campaign. Why wouldn't that be investigated? And please don’t point me to opinion sources. And watch that word ignorance. O3000 (talk) 16:11, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
Wookian, you write: "Steele Dossier, claiming it to be trusted and verified."??? Not true. They made no such claim in the application. On the contrary. -- BullRangifer (talk) 22:50, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
What do you mean by "on the contrary?" Do you mean that they represented in the FISA application that the Steele Dossier was untrustworthy? That would have been great, but it's not what happened. Of course, if they correctly mentioned that it was untrustworthy then it obviously would have been inappropriate to include at all. Here's Solomon[12]: It is important to note that the FBI swore on Oct. 21, 2016, to the FISA judges that Steele’s “reporting has been corroborated and used in criminal proceedings” and the FBI has determined him to be “reliable” and was “unaware of any derogatory information pertaining” to their informant, [...] That’s a pretty remarkable declaration in Footnote 5 on Page 15 of the FISA application Wookian (talk) 02:41, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

@Shinealittlelight: - thanks for the great effort. I'm going offline right now, but in my quick look over I did see several sources backing up in order to discredit the Mueller investigation. Won't comment on the rest yet, this is just a preliminary analysis. starship.paint (talk) 15:06, 23 May 2019 (UTC)

Thanks, Starship.paint. If any of the rest of you folks want to present a comparable or better list of RS that support a different claim about how RS present the story, then go right ahead, I'm all ears. Shinealittlelight (talk) 15:11, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
@Shinealittlelight: - you definitively established the “discredit” portion in the sources. But “unsubstantiated” claim is only quoted to [B], while “critics said distraction tactic” is quoted to only [C] and [G] starship.paint (talk) 00:17, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
@Starship.paint: I say at the outset that I don't provide sufficient quotes to establish "unsubstantiated". I did not do this to keep it reasonably compact (it's already pretty long). Would it be helpful to have me extract all explicit statements to the effect that the claims are unsubstantiated? I didn't want to post so much that it couldn't be taken in. Shinealittlelight (talk) 00:23, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
@Shinealittlelight: - maybe that’s for another section. This one has already been steered in the direction you set out. starship.paint (talk) 00:34, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
I suspect that once the DoJ IG, Huber, and Durham special investigation reports are released, the narrative on this story is going to change A LOT. Arguing about it before then is probably a waste of time, although in the meantime we definitely, with Barr's testimony and the Mueller report, hae good reason to drop the "conspiracy theory" from the article title. AppliedCharisma (talk) 15:59, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
I will make one small quibble here - instead of how RS present it's more like how RS presented since many of these articles are old and out of date, not reflecting the dramatically turned tables after Mueller's release. Wookian (talk) 16:04, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
I think that all anyone cares about is RSs, Wookian. So if you have a list of your own superior (more up-to-date) sources, let's hear it. Shinealittlelight (talk) 16:10, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
...dramatically turned tables after Mueller's release Sorry, but it now appears that you are pushing this conspiracy theory. The Mueller report has turned no tables. There is no evidence that Obama and the FBI spied on Trump's campaign to harm his electoral chances. It's a conspiracy theory. The report details massive interference in the campaign by the Russians, and shows justification for the investigations. It also details efforts to obstruct justice. O3000 (talk) 16:17, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
  • I appreciate Shinealittlelight's efforts here to move beyond the strictly binary "is-it-or-is-it-not-a-conspiracy-theory" debate. I hope others will come along for the ride. I haven't reviewed these sources in detail, but they appear to verify that Trump's critics have contended that the Spygate allegations are an attempt to discredit the Russia investigation. I see no reason not to add that information to the article. I think it belongs in the lead. R2 (bleep) 17:44, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
Thank you, R2. But I'm arguing for something stronger than just inclusion of this information--something you may not agree with, but it's worth making clear what the disagreement is. I'm arguing that the above list shows that the present Wikipedia article frames the whole topic in a way that is substantially different from the vast majority of mainstream sources. If I'm right about this, then the article needs a whole new orientation. I'd still agree to include the "conspiracy theory" point, but the presentation should weight that point according to it's lack of substantial representation in mainstream sources. At present, the "conspiracy theory" point is framing the whole article. I'm arguing that this is way out of step with the weighting of the point in mainstream sources, which largely (per my list) do not mention that point at all. Shinealittlelight (talk) 17:52, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
I get that. I favor an incremental approach. I suspect we can obtain consensus that something like, "Trump's critics have contended that the Spygate allegations are an attempt to discredit the Russia investigation," belongs in the lead section. Then we can decide whether that content should be featured more prominently than the conspiracy theory part (a more dubious proposition, but one that some editors-who-believe-it's-a-conspiracy-theory might be open to). R2 (bleep) 18:35, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
I think R2’s proposed sentence is a good addition that should be inserted now. On conspiracy, the sources provided by Shinealittlelight make it clear that these are unsubstantiated claims of extreme wrongdoing by multiple people in the FBI to harm Trump to the point of possibly being “one of the biggest political scandals in history”. In Trump’s own words, “a deep state conspiracy”. The articles also state in many ways that there is no evidence for this. Realizing that we are not RS, our own article states: “A conspiracy theory is an explanation of an event or situation that invokes a conspiracy by sinister and powerful actors, often political in motivation, when other explanations are more probable.” What we have here is a conspiracy theory. Now, sources are all going to use their own phrasing, as is their wont. But, I see no reason to use ten different phrasings when they all amount to theories of conspiratorial activity, particularly since Trump himself, he who coined the term Spygate and originated the claims, called it a deep state conspiracy. O3000 (talk) 18:47, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
I boldly conjecture that we will never achieve consensus about whether spygate is a conspiracy theory. But perhaps we can agree that we need to follow RS, and that RS tend not (per my list) to explicitly present it using that term, so we should also tend not to explicitly present it that way. O3K, you're suggesting that although these sources by and large do not explicitly use the term 'conspiracy theory', they use other language that, in your opinion, is tantamount to calling it a conspiracy theory. Namely, that it is an unsubstantiated claim of a conspiracy. If you're right, then let's follow RS and use that language instead of 'conspiracy theory'. I just want to get away from the partisan effect of associating Trump with martians and the illuminati.Shinealittlelight (talk) 19:09, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
Well, you left out the RS that called it a conspiracy theory directly, probably making it the most common label. And deep state is listed by us as a major conspiracy theory, as well as others about the Clintons, Obama, George Soros, etc. And Trump has called global warming a Chinese conspiracy, claims MS-13 is flooding across our border and used the nickname "MS-13 Lover Nancy Pelosi". No need to stretch the term to Martians and the Illuminati. O3000 (talk) 19:19, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
Again, if you have a competing list of comparable RS that support a different framing, I'm all ears. Shinealittlelight (talk) 19:34, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
You want me to go back through this TP and find them yet again? O3000 (talk) 19:48, 23 May 2019 (UTC)

───────────────────────── Shinealittlelight, are we back to arguing that we shouldn't describe Spygate as a conspiracy theory? Because if we are then I ask you again to drop that stick. R2 (bleep) 19:51, 23 May 2019 (UTC)

Not what I'm arguing about. Shinealittlelight (talk) 20:22, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
Ok, then I think I misunderstood If you're right, then let's follow RS and use that language instead of 'conspiracy theory'. R2 (bleep) 20:32, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
I thought O3K suggested that the sources I listed support the conspiracy theory framing. I was responding that even if he were right about that, it would support the course of action I suggested. Anyway, I don't want to argue with O3K anymore. It's not productive. My main point in this section is just what I've said. And if someone wants to assemble a competing list of excellent RS that supports a different framing for the article than I'm advocating, I suggest that they do so. Shinealittlelight (talk) 21:07, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
Well, you have a point that discussions with you have not been productive. Circular arguments never end. O3000 (talk) 00:04, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Proposed: "Trump's critics have contended that the Spygate allegations are an attempt to discredit the Russia investigation, (2-3 sources) and some of them have described it as a conspiracy theory."(2-3 sources) This uses R2's good wording and attributes the CT to the critics. As usual, the sources tell who says what. -- BullRangifer (talk) 23:02, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
I'm definitely against the "and some of them have described it as a conspiracy theory." This suggests, among other things, that the "conspiracy theory" description is just an allegation by Trump critics. In fact as we know there are plenty of reliable sources that have described Spygate as a conspiracy theory. I'd start the article as follows: "Spygate is a conspiracy theory(2-3 sources) initiated by President Donald Trump in May 2018 that the Obama administration had implanted a spy in his 2016 presidential campaign for political purposes.(2-3 sources) It has been described as an attempt to discredit the Special Counsel investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.(2-3 sources)" R2 (bleep) 23:36, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
Agree with R2. Claims by the President of the US that the FBI has committed treasonable acts (which are punishable by the death penalty), cannot be dealt with by using weasel wording. This is a conspiracy theory. There is no evidence that Obama and the FBI committed treason by placing a spy in Trump's campaign to harm his candidacy. Why are we trying to minimize this conspiracy theory? O3000 (talk) 00:12, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
I must agree. Striking my proposal. Please make yours as a proposal. -- BullRangifer (talk) 00:19, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
I agree with R2's proposal that we add: "Trump's critics have contended that the Spygate allegations are an attempt to discredit the Russia investigation." I don't believe anything that already exists should be removed at this time. We can continue debate after that. O3000 (talk) 00:23, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
I agree with R2’s proposal. I would have the unsubstantiated part be “widely described”. Shinealittlelight has definitively proved it. starship.paint (talk) 00:36, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
I'm fine with that proposal. This addition alone would not, however, reflect the fact that the conspiracy theory angle is way less prominent in the RS than this angle in terms of branding and discrediting. One small step in that direction is to omit the first paragraph of the body that talks about Max Boot. In my view, the fact that very few RS approach the story that way should make us hesitate to open the body that way. It is not how RS frame the whole story, so it isn't how we should frame it. Shinealittlelight (talk) 01:13, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
How about we shift Max Boot to Reactions, Shinealittlelight? starship.paint (talk) 02:01, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
Yep, that seems reasonable. Shinealittlelight (talk) 02:09, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

New Proposal:

In late July 2016, the FBI began a counterintelligence investigation that was later taken over by the Special Counsel investigation (2017–2019). Spygate is an unsubstantiated theory that was put forward by Donald Trump in May 2018 to discredit this investigation as illegal or otherwise improper.[sources]

I would then suggest adding to the fourth paragraph in the lead the claim that "some sources have described Spygate as a conspiracy theory" with the LA Times report and the Haaretz report as sources. Here are a few things to like about this proposal.

  • First, it doesn't explicitly define 'spygate', which is good because there is no one correct definition of it in RS (as I've repeatedly argued).
  • Second, it prominently implements the framing of all the RS that I listed above.
  • Third, it still mentions the reports that it is a conspiracy theory, but gives this lower billing, in accord with the less prominent representation of that point in RS, and also in accord with the structure of the article itself, which has several mentions of conspiracy theory in the reactions section. It does not relegate the conspiracy theory angle to "Trump critics," which is good, since that angle has shown up in the news sources I mentioned. Thoughts? Shinealittlelight (talk) 17:47, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
I would add " May 2018 about the actions of FBI informant Stefan Halper in order to discredit..." That was indeed the immediate context, and without that, this article wouldn't even exist. -- BullRangifer (talk) 18:16, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
BullRangifer, you make this point a lot, and I've had reservations about it. I'm just not so sure that he was only referring to Stefan Halper. He had heard about Halper, but it seems to me that he was suggesting that there could have been any number of spies in his campaign, and you get that from other things he has said (much of which is unsubstantiated or implausible, of course). So I hesitate to be so specific. Shinealittlelight (talk) 18:19, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
What about: " May 2018, (after/in response to) the revelation that ...Halper..." Would that do the trick? (And are we quite sure this is true?) Shinealittlelight (talk) 18:20, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
Yesterday, after being reminded by a reporter that treason is a death penalty offense, Trump named four FBI agents and accused them of treason. He also suggested people above them were guilty of treason. That would seem to be Rosenstein and Sessions. This all started with the Spygate conspiracy theory. I think an encyclopedia should make it clear that there is no reason to believe that the FBI/DOJ attempted a coup d'état in the US for the first time in history. Numerous conspiracy sites claim that there was an FBI conspiracy to harm the POTUS and that it isn't just a theory. Although not all RS use the specific term "conspiracy theory", I don't think any suggest this conspiracy actually existed. O3000 (talk) 18:21, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
I am suggesting that we follow the emphasis and framing of the RS. Shinealittlelight (talk) 18:26, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
As am I. In addition to Bullrangifers six conspiracy cites, I’ll add five RS using the words conspiracy or conspirators: NYTimes, NPR, CBS, NewYork Mag, BBC. O3000 (talk) 19:02, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
Could you please lay out the text of your proposal? Shinealittlelight (talk) 19:08, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
We add R2's suggested text and stop this circular argument. O3000 (talk) 19:11, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
Ok, so you won't lay out the text for us. Thanks. Shinealittlelight (talk) 19:36, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
No, I already did and I'm tired of repeating myself. As per my edit well above, we add: "Trump's critics have contended that the Spygate allegations are an attempt to discredit the Russia investigation." I don't believe anything that already exists should be removed at this time. O3000 (talk) 19:50, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
I still don't know where you would add it in the lead, and you never said. I'm not asking anymore. Shinealittlelight (talk) 19:56, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

─────────────────────────@Starship.paint:, @Ahrtoodeetoo: Got any thoughts? Shinealittlelight (talk) 19:36, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

Totally contrary to our core policies as well as WP:FRINGE. You already know my position about attributing the "conspiracy theory" statement in-text. I am completely against it. Now you're proposing that we call Spygate an "unsubstantiated theory" in the first para and then demoting "conspiracy theory" to the fourth para, with the weasely and non-neutral attribution to "some sources." No way no how no. I think you could have anticipated this response. Frankly I think this whole line of argument has been dragging on too long and is getting ridiculous. You've spent how much time bickering amongst the the group, and you still seem to have no sense of what has a plausible chance of receiving consensus. This is why I took this page off my watchlist. R2 (bleep) 19:59, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
Disagree, as Shinealittlelight has made a reasonable case. If anything (as I've noted) it doesn't go far enough, cf. out of date sources. However it is a step toward representing this topic in a way more in line with the best sources and less aligned with sources that not only carry an unsustainable partisan slant, but also skew away from a factual and Occam's Razor view of the world, post Mueller Report. Wookian (talk) 20:16, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
The Mueller Report has not changed anything other than detailing the need for investigations. If you have a problem with RS, take it to WP:RSN. 20:22, 24 May 2019 (UTC)O3000 (talk)
Well that hurts my feelings, R2, and I don't see why you have to be so mean. But, more importantly, it's implausible on every point. First, why would I ping you if I knew what you were going to say? Of course I felt that it was important to get your perspective, even though we've often disagreed, and I wasn't exactly sure what you would think. I actually thought it might convince you! In my view, that's how this place works. I'm not beyond being convinced of things, even when I've argued about it at length. As for the point about WP:FRINGE, The language I used is very similar, on purpose, to the language at the beginning of the AP article linked above. So your suggestion that I'm violating WP:FRINGE is, to my way of thinking, not reasonable. As for weaselyness, I wasn't trying to be weasely, but to reflect RS and the structure of the article. I'm certainly inviting help improving the wording there if it can be improved. For the record, I've tried to be reasonable and I have made a new argument here in good faith. And, in any case, I'll be interested to hear what the other editors think. Shinealittlelight (talk) 22:18, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
We had a well-attended RfC. You have been arguing to, essentially, undue it at enormous length without gaining consensus. No RS gives any credence to this conspiracy theory. You continue to suggest changes to raise doubt in the mind of the reader that maybe there really was an attempt by the Mueller team/FBI to harm or oust the POTUS. Meanwhile, it just gets crazier and crazier. The President just called the Mueller team "18 killers". It just isn't there in RS. O3000 (talk) 22:34, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

On the contrary. The release of the Mueller report has changed the tone and context in which all these sources framed their coverage. It is relevant to a number of their claims in this article such as Trump creating a conspiracy theory to discredit an investigation into... something we now know he didnt do. Every one of those sources was working under the assumption he was guilty and they were wrong. So unless you support witch hunt and trial by media and mobs culture, ANY of these sources from pre release are lesser than sources post release. Your view that the only change was revealing the need for the investigation suggests a willingness to ignore the results of due process and persist in publishing mere allegations. Look around, your RS are no longer filling the airwaves with stories claiming Trump colluded with Russia. Batvette (talk) 22:38, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

My proposed language calls Spygate unsubstantiated in the first sentence, and attributes nakedly political motives to Trump's assertion of it, exactly like the Associated Press. Like the AP, I do not intend to raise doubts in the mind of the reader about Mueller, etc. Moreover, I would welcome alternative proposals, or suggested amendments or rewording. And, finally, the idea that I'm not seeking consensus is just hard to understand. I just pinged R2, who I've almost always disagreed with. I'm not proposing to do anything without consensus. Shinealittlelight (talk) 22:42, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
Nowhere did I say you weren't trying to gain consensus. O3000 (talk) 22:51, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
I see, well, perhaps I misunderstood your sentence You have been arguing to, essentially, undue it at enormous length without gaining consensus. If so, I apologize. Shinealittlelight (talk) 22:54, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

Proposal #2[edit]

In late July 2016, the FBI began a counterintelligence investigation that was later taken over by the Special Counsel investigation (2017–2019). To discredit this investigation as illegal or otherwise improper, [sources provided above] Donald Trump put forward Spygate, an unsubstantiated claim [please provide sources] and a conspiracy theory. [sources provided above]

starship.paint (talk) 00:07, 25 May 2019 (UTC)

Thanks for the proposal. My view is that this proposal places undue weight on the claim that it is a conspiracy theory, based on my review of sources. It also does not accurately reflect the body of the article. Do you disagree? Nevertheless, it is an improvement over the current wording. Shinealittlelight (talk) 00:12, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
Well, I think the order does reflect the weight. You've provided numerous examples of "discredit", so it's mentioned first. You haven't provided numerous examples for "unsubstantiated", but I'm assuming in good faith that there are indeed such numerous examples, so that's mentioned second. We have several examples calling it a conspiracy theory, I'm assuming less than "unsubstantiated", so we put it third. As for the body, we can, and we should, update it. I've already advocated for it to be changed above, and before the lede is changed. But it seemed like you proposed a change to the lede, so I'm going with the flow here. starship.paint (talk) 01:02, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
Understood. I wasn't aware that people wanted a change in the body of the sort you are suggesting. I may have lost track of what was being proposed. I really like the idea of changing the body first, and making the lead reflect the body. Thank you for your good faith; I do agree I need to pull together the references for "unsubstantiated" and gain consensus about that before it would be implemented. Shinealittlelight (talk) 01:06, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
I appreciate the attempt at compromise. My review of the sources show that it is without question a theory involving a conspiracy, and zero RS say it isn’t. In any case, it looks like moving a dispute from the TP to the article, which doesn’t sound like a good method of developing an article. Must be an essay about that somewhere. If not, perhaps I’ll write one – if I can think of some humorous anecdotes required by a good essay. (Thanks for starting a new section.) O3000 (talk) 00:38, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
Sure, let's call it a theory involving a conspiracy instead of a conspiracy theory. I agree that RS support that, and I'd be fine with it. Here you go:
In late July 2016, the FBI began a counterintelligence investigation that was later taken over by the Special Counsel investigation (2017–2019). To discredit this investigation as illegal or otherwise improper, [sources provided above] Donald Trump put forward Spygate, an unsubstantiated theory [please provide sources] about a conspiracy in the FBI to undermine his election. [sources provided above]
Shinealittlelight (talk) 01:01, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you really feel about my new proposal, O3000. It doesn't say Spygate is not a conspiracy theory. starship.paint (talk) 01:02, 25 May 2019 (UTC)

I think its problematic to say the purpose of him presenting (what some call)a conspiracy theory was solely to discredit the investigation, particularly in light of its results. Even if RS say this isnt it purely speculatory (opinion injected) to state what his intentions were? At the very least it does not reflect NPOV, because it only approaches it from a POV that he WAS in collusion with Russia so the only rationale could be that. Im assuming most Presidential candidates do not appreciate having their campaign spied on by an incumbants agencies and their belief it happened would be motivation enough to voice such allegations. Batvette (talk) 02:18, 25 May 2019 (UTC)

Batvette, I'm just trying to follow what RS (as defined here at Wikipedia) are saying. I agree that these sources lean left. The lead I proposed is in no way my own view of the situation. It is just what I think RS (as defined here) say. You cannot expect that you are going to collaborate with left-leaning editors--as you must here, since it's open to people on all sides to edit--and come out with a result that you, as a conservative, think is exactly right. Shinealittlelight (talk) 02:33, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
@Batvette: - sources are allowed to have POV. It's Wikipedia that must be NPOV in presenting the sources' POV which means representing fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without editorial bias, all of the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic. starship.paint (talk) 02:38, 25 May 2019 (UTC)

Proposal 4[edit]

In late July 2016, the FBI began a counterintelligence investigation that was later taken over by the Special Counsel investigation (2017–2019). To discredit this investigation as illegal or otherwise improper, [sources by Shine above] Donald Trump put forward Spygate, an unsubstantiated claim [sources by Shine below] alleging a conspiracy in the FBI to undermine his election. [sources by O3000 above] Spygate has also been described as a conspiracy theory. [sources by starship above].

starship.paint (talk) 07:20, 25 May 2019 (UTC)

This is an improvement over the current wording. If 'conspiracy theory' means the same thing as 'theory about a conspiracy', as some here have claimed, then the final sentence is repetitive, since the sentence just before calls it a theory about a conspiracy. On that basis, I'd prefer a version that drops the final sentence. Shinealittlelight (talk) 11:29, 25 May 2019 (UTC)

Have fun[edit]

I'm going to take a break from this article. However, please ping me if I'm needed to provide feedback or help resolve a dispute. This would not be inappropriate canvassing because I've participated in previous discussions and I'm asking to be kept informed. I might stop by unsolicited from time to time as well. R2 (bleep) 23:04, 23 May 2019 (UTC)

May the force be with you, R2. Shinealittlelight (talk) 23:17, 23 May 2019 (UTC)

Alex Jones[edit]

Does anyone else find it weird that the article reports that Alex Jones (wut) claimed credit for the term 'spygate'? I myself could not care less what crazy thing that fellow says. Also, doesn't the material in that paragraph belong in the "reactions" section of the article? I mean, if we're going to include it--I'd be ok with dropping it; we don't usually report reactions from these quarters. Shinealittlelight (talk) 02:44, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

I'm okay with removing, since he's so uncredible that he's incredible. Unfortunately I think I added that. starship.paint (talk) 02:59, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
It's important to document that the background for this term is a fringe source. -- BullRangifer (talk) 05:36, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
Sure, if Alex Jones coined the term, that would be important to include. Unfortunately, what we have is not a RS saying that Jones coined the term. Rather, what we have is an RS saying that Alex Jones says that he coined the term. And that's surely not important. That guy says lots of stuff. But if there is some RS saying that he really did coin it, I would definitely agree with putting that back in. Shinealittlelight (talk) 11:05, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
I thought Trump coined it - but can't remember why I thought so. I certainly wouldn't take Jones at his word. Can't include without a source. O3000 (talk) 11:09, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
Good points. Otherwise, that article happens to contain some important information, so I'll be using for other content. -- BullRangifer (talk) 13:28, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
But Alex Jones is an investigative journalist! (Just kidding.) Agree with others that claims from Alex Jones are not notable without a solid external reason. Wookian (talk) 14:01, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

───────────────────────── Here's what I get from that source which is worth including. Let's work on it:

This use of the term was coined by Trump as a marketing effort to rebrand the work of informant Stefan Halper, making it seem more nefarious, as well as to undermine investigations by Mueller and the FBI into any possible ties between Trump's campaign and Russian operatives. Unlike conservative sources, which embraced the term, mainstream media sources "banned the use of 'Spygate' as a generic reference in news accounts about the FBI's use of an informant to gather information on Trump's campaign in 2016" and would only use it when quoting someone who was using it.[1]

BullRangifer (talk) 13:49, 24 May 2019 (UTC)


  1. ^ Farhi, Paul (May 25, 2018). "'Spygate'? The mainstream news media has a few problems with that phrase". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 24, 2019.
With that quote youve unwittingly provided the best evidence for renaming or deleting the article. Was he rebranding Halperns work or creating a conspiracy theory? It doesnt seem reasonable to claim both and puts the conspiracy theory description as itself, conspiracy theory. Why is misportrayal of an actual event conspiracy theory?)Batvette (talk) 21:59, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

───────────────────────── Trump made one true claim and several false claims about Halper's work as an FBI informant. The true claim was that there had been surveillance of his campaign. Now that this is nailed down firmly, we can ignore it, as it's not the part that makes this a conspiracy theory. Proving that there was surveillance is a red herring. It happened. We know it. Later investigations which proved there was surveillance have no bearing on the Spygate conspiracy theory. Trump made some false statements about Halper. That's it. It's not complicated. Nothing that comes later has any bearing on it.

Trump's rebranding of Halper was just one part of his conspiracy theory, as calling an informant a spy is just an attempt to make something legitimate sound wrong, illegal, unnecessary, etc. There was much more that was wrong and misleading about Trump's claims. The false claims were as follows:

  1. That a (as in ONE) spy was implanted in his 2016 presidential campaign. (Trump had just learned about Halper and tweeted about him without naming him.)
  2. That it was for political purposes.
  3. That the spy was "placed very early into my campaign".
  4. That a counterintelligence operation into the Trump campaign had been running since December 2015.


  1. No spy was "implanted" in the campaign. Halper was just poking around the edges and asking some questions. He never tried to join the campaign.
  2. It was part of the investigation into Russian interference, IOW for national security purposes, not political purposes.
  3. Halper first started his investigations in July 2016, not early in the campaign, which started in 2015 (or 2013, if you really want to know how far back Trump started preparing and discussing with the Russians and they promised then that they would help him).
  4. The Crossfire Hurricane investigation into the Trump campaign's relations to the Russian election interference started on July 31, 2016. There was no investigation of the Trump campaign before this, only of Russians. It had all been about the Russians before that.

So far no evidence has been produced to support Trump's false claims. The Mueller Report hasn't changed anything about this historical event. Later sources don't change what happened. -- BullRangifer (talk) 02:49, 25 May 2019 (UTC)

Is this your original research? How do you know precisely what Trump knew? For example, how do you know he was referring to Halper? Wookian (talk) 03:01, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
It's the sources that say he's referring to Halper. Here is one. [13] starship.paint (talk) 06:44, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
Thanks for the link, however it is an opinion source. The article also weighs in against Republicans in general. So it would be sufficient to establish that Zack Beauchamp says such and such, however not to establish an objective fact. If you read his other work (presented the same way on Vox), you can learn that Game of Thrones said goodbye to two of its biggest characters, "badly," and how it "felt wrong" to him[14]. Wookian (talk) 16:31, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
And if you think I'm splitting hairs, I'm really not. There was another undercover spy sent by the FBI under the pseudonym "Azra Turk" that Trump could have been referring to. If you think you have the same information as a billionaire elected president who got personal briefings from the director of the NSA among innumerable other sources, then you are mistaken. I doubt you'll find a non-opinion RS that will stick its neck out and claim exactly what Trump knows. It would obviously be stupid to do so. Wookian (talk) 16:34, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
The "Azra Turk" revelation is recent and even Trump didn't know about that until much later. She was also a later participant, not used in the beginnings of Halper's work. If Trump had known about "Azra", he wouldn't have written "a spy" in his tweets. He had just learned about Halper and RS make it clear he was referring to him. -- BullRangifer (talk) 17:11, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
You are making a perfectly fine argument, and I grant that the anti-Republican opinion source linked by starship agrees with you and could be cited as a named opinion source to that effect. However, I'm still not seeing a non opinion RS that confidently claims what Trump knows. It is still pretty silly to claim that Trump knows (and knew) only the info available to a reader of the NYT. Wookian (talk) 22:36, 25 May 2019 (UTC)

Your source, Vox, all but matter of factly describes Halper as a spy. This does not convincingly support BRs points and Halpers history if known by Trump make his allegations reasonable. I neednt mention most of the mainstream media were eager to skewer him at the time and still are. Thats okay a lot of them did it to Clinton too. However encyclopedias are supposed to be above this and shouldnt be political rags merely repeating media sources, RS or not, interested in selling copy with controversial political articles. If surveillance against Trump was legitimate why did the FBI hire a spy from outside their agency to do it? Batvette (talk) 09:13, 25 May 2019 (UTC)

"if you really want to know how far back Trump started preparing and discussing with the Russians and they promised then that they would help him)." That directly implies Trump had long colluded with Russia to help him win the election. Can you support this with RS other than allegations? What did the Mueller report say about this?Batvette (talk) 08:55, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
@Batvette: - Halper is an FBI informant. That's not a conspiracy theory. There was surveillance. That's not a conspiracy theory either. The conspiracy theory is that the spy was actually part of Trump's campaign, and that the spy was doing it for political purposes. You would do well to actually read this article. Trey Gowdy said I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got. Paul Ryan and Richard Burr backed Gowdy. Tom Rooney and Jeff Flake called Spygate a diversion. These are Republicans. Even Fox News' Andrew Napolitano says that this other allegation with this professor, whose name we're not supposed to mention, that is standard operating procedure in intelligence gathering and criminal investigations ... such a stunningly unremarkable event, because law enforcement does this all the time. All of these are in the article, if you had read it, you could have known. starship.paint (talk) 09:35, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
1. "If youd have read it, you would know." Stop right there. Thats a BS debate tactic and argues that you are right because you or the article know something I do not. The argument fails because Trump does not have unanimous GOP support. Many bitterly oppose him. The fact some republicans disagreed with him is irrelevant. And I hope you arent suggesting I was supposed to have viewed an article with a partisan slant and just abandoned my arguments. I stated what the article said about Halper being a spy so obviously I skimmed it for points I could use. I am not under obligation to find arguments in it for anyone else. In closing your statement about not reading the article is tantamount to a personal attack. I wont deflect the discussion by saying I would care. 2. So because Halper merely spied on the campaign instead of being planted in it, that is enough to make this a conspiracy theory? How about he was just wording it wrong or got a detail wrong? 3. While there is legitimacy to the investigation its also not been proven it WASNT for political purposes and the FBI acknowledged at the time the Steele dossier had political capital origins. We know the Clinton campaign was behind that. So it doesnt reflect NPOV to continue to ignore that. Batvette (talk) 11:00, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
Batvette, you write: "supposed to have viewed an article with a partisan slant and just abandoned my arguments". Actually, that's exactly what you should do. When discussing articles and article content, it's expected that editors exercise due diligence, IOW do your homework. When you speak from ignorance, you damage your case. You should have read the article and the sources and then brought your thinking into line with what the RS say, IOW changed your mind by following the evidence. Editors are expected to show a positive learning curve. When they don't, they end up in trouble because they cause various forms of disruption. Please start getting more informed. Read those sources. -- BullRangifer (talk) 14:20, 25 May 2019 (UTC)

I should delete your comment right there. Its a personal attack and its not your place to dish out condescending advice on life to other editors. Hes wrong, okay? I knew damn well a handful of republicans disagreed with Trump I guess you two are ignorant that Trumps nomination at the GOP convention saw near mutiny and a percentage of the party is never Trump. His point is that his claims are all the more outrageous because all republicans are duly obligated to be lock step with Trump. Thats HIS ignorance for arguing that not mine for not being a sucker and buying it. We know that neither of you are oblivious to Trumps unpopularity with some in his party so I can only take his persistence in pushing it as an argument of intellectual dishonesty and you both projecting it to my ignorance after stating the fallacious nature of the point to be trolling this discussion. You must have a lot of free time on your hands to want to fill these pages with such unconstructive actions. Batvette (talk) 20:06, 25 May 2019 (UTC)

@Batvette: - you are right because you or the article know something I do not - that's plausible. It's also possible that you are right because you know something I do not. This is how the world works. We're not omniscient, and that's fine.
The argument fails because Trump does not have unanimous GOP support. - that's hilarious. That unanimous GOP support is needed to prove anything.
So because Halper merely spied on the campaign instead of being planted in it, that is enough to make this a conspiracy theory - that's for the sources to decide. Some have said yes, Spygate is a conspiracy theory.
How about he was just wording it wrong or got a detail wrong? - then it's wrong. "Barack Obama was born in Hawaii" versus "Barack Obama was born in Kenya" - that's just getting a detail wrong too. Humans typically have ten fingers versus humans typically have eleven fingers. Another detail wrong. One is a fact, one is a falsehood.
While there is legitimacy to the investigation its also not been proven it WASNT for political purposes - how do you prove a negative? Perhaps we can use the law of non-contradiction?
the FBI acknowledged at the time the Steele dossier had political capital origins - even if this is true, how is this relevant to the article? Crossfire Hurricane didn't get the dossier until October 2016. starship.paint (talk) 11:47, 25 May 2019 (UTC)

Are you abandoning your argument (assumed to be) that there is significance on these lawmakers political party? Or are you shifting into confusion on purpose? Who argued unanimous support was required for anything? Ive explained the issue with your implied point if you havent gotten it now expect warranted personal insults if you persist with being obtuse. As for the larger remaining point I have read that the FBI knew the origins of the Steele dossier and went ahead with it noting it was questionable because it sought to help Clinton. I believe reliable sources published this. (BR again to display NPOV should scold you for shameful lack of research. (LOL at my cherub faced innocence as I feign willingness to work with other editors) Given that Turk and Halpers approaches to George P can be portrayed as a setup he didnt bite on, Halper was a spy previously accused of spying on a campaign for political reasons, RS reports an IG report with Halpers handler (partner?) Peter Strzok quoted (possibly under oath) that his activities reported straight to obama/white house/the supreme poobah and the IG stating Strzok showing willingness to take OFFICIAL action to hurt Trumps chances... and the FBI knowing Clinton paid for Steeles work.... you really dont know why all this is relevant? It proves that in may 2019 we and RS know what nobody knew a year ago. Trump wasnt promoting conspiracy theory. A cabal of wiki editors are. Wikis founders must be apalled at how this kind of thing destroys credibility here.Batvette (talk) 21:42, 25 May 2019 (UTC)

If you want to link the Steele dossier with Spygate, provide WP:Reliable sources that link the two topics. Okay? If no sources - drop it. starship.paint (talk) 00:30, 26 May 2019 (UTC)
@Starship.paint: I don't want to comment on everything you're saying here. But here's a source: [[15]] from around the same time as the tweets, I think, that has Trump talking about "spies" in the plural. I've never been sure that the spygate tweets meant to be referring only to Halper because of this sort of thing. Shinealittlelight (talk) 12:36, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
@Shinealittlelight: - Trump doesn't know squat. "If they had spies in my campaign, that would be a disgrace to this country ... we want to make sure that there weren't. I hope there weren't, frankly." Either he knows that there are spies or he doesn't know. From his remarks, it seems that he doesn't. starship.paint (talk) 12:45, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
@Starship.paint: I think you misunderstood the point I was trying to make. I'm not claiming that Trump knew anything. I'm only claiming that in this source, he makes a claim about spies in the plural, and that suggests that, in the spygate tweets, it isn't clear that he meant to be referring only to Halper. My claim here isn't that he knew anything, but is only about what he intended to claim. Shinealittlelight (talk) 12:49, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
Yes, Trump just says things off the top of his head without evidence. Yesterday, the Mueller team was “18 killers”. Ted Cruz’s father was involved in JFK’s assassination. Millions of illegal aliens voted in the election. Vince Foster mat not have committed suicide. Vaccines may cause autism. Muslims celebrated 9/11 on NJ roofs. Antonin Scalia may have been murdered. Climate change is a Chinese hoax. The FBI planted spies in his campaign to help Clinton. Conspiracy theories. O3000 12:51, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
Thats right muslims celebrated on NJ rooftops on 9/11. The footage of the newscast has been uploaded on youtube for years now. Tried to post a link it wont but its such a dead story I dont feel a need to. Perhaps BR has some sage advice for you too regarding responsibility in learning the other sides views before you come here and eat up their patronizing arguments. But that is only a direction to go in when the topical argument you present fails. This is not the case now because there were celebrations, Trump remembered and the news footage was found. Batvette (talk) 21:06, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
This is absolutely false. Please do not spread hate material here. O3000 (talk) 21:12, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
@Batvette and Objective3000: - Trump says “thousands and thousands” of Muslims celebrated. Reliable source says some people report “dozens”. “Truthful hyperbole” is a falsehood. Getting a detail wrong changes the entire meaning of the sentence. starship.paint (talk) 00:09, 26 May 2019 (UTC)
There is actually no evidence of this other than anecdotal claims. OTOH, there is enormous evidence of Americans cheering the bombing of Baghdad in bars across the country. In any case, it is an Islamophobic smear that has no place here. I'd remove all of it -- but I'm up against 1RR. O3000 (talk) 00:19, 26 May 2019 (UTC)

Now youre just plain lying as a source was provided proving your claims were wrong. You are becoming a problem editor here. Dont give me this islamophobia nonsense when YOU raised the issue with a claim I just proved as another false allegation against Trump. Batvette (talk) 01:24, 26 May 2019 (UTC) Absolutely false huh. Here we have the previously mentioned footage of broadcast from 9/11 reporting "swarms of muslims" on a NJ rooftop celebrating the attacks. The claim you made above is just wrong. Will you man up and admit this? Dozens of purportedly RS media outlets, many of which are used in this article, still refuse to back away from their slanted coverage (which summarizes every aspect of Trumps claim as a lie) even after their own colleague's footage was produced revealing it amounts to semantics differentiating "swarms" from "thousands". Since the coverage Trump saw also included thousands of Palestinians doing the same to continue this narrative Trump made it up is irresponsible. The relevance toward the article is that every RS that is used in this article that has refused to update their claims about Trump lying he saw TV news reporting muslims celebrating, should not be considered RS for their reporting a year ago on Trumps claims in the article. I'm not declaring all of them fake news but we have clear precedent of their contempt for facts. This starts with 03000s willingness to show his integrity. The story as you knew it was false wasnt it?Batvette (talk) 00:02, 26 May 2019 (UTC)

People, what does this have to do with the article? Nothing. That's what. You're obviously not going anywhere in this discussion. WP:FORUM. A more productive route would be to determine whether we could build a consensus about something like Starship.paint's "proposal 4" below. So far, all we know is that I'm somewhat positive on it and O3K opposes it. Anyone else? Shinealittlelight (talk) 00:32, 26 May 2019 (UTC)
Sorry, but I take seriously bigoted smears anywhere in Wikipedia against any peoples. O3000 (talk) 00:36, 26 May 2019 (UTC)

And I take throwing down victim cards or false SJW whining to deflect every time you get proven wrong here seriously. One would think if I actually did what you just claimed you could bring it to the attention of the lowest level of admin here and rid me from this page immediately. Why havent you? Because like your claims about personal insults you are deflecting rather than give an inch about your numerous errors. Subjecting my person to your false allegations is in violation of wiki policy.Batvette (talk) 01:07, 26 May 2019 (UTC)

@Shinealittlelight: - I understand that he is discussing spies in the plural, but: he used if and would and hope. He never said there were spies in his campaign (from the source you provided) So he did not claim that there were spies. starship.paint (talk) 13:17, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
@Starship.paint: Ok, good point. Do you think he was referring to Halper in the June 5 tweet? It has been reported that he was basing that tweet on a claim about a spy back in 2015. Does he take that spy to be Halper? Seems unclear at best. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Shinealittlelight (talkcontribs)
@Shinealittlelight: - does the June 5 tweet mention "a spy"? It only says a counter-intelligence operation - which cannot be concluded to be a spy. starship.paint (talk) 13:39, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
@Starship.paint:But the basis for the claim was--as reported in our article and the linked sources--a claim about a spy in 2015. Shinealittlelight (talk) 15:56, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
@Shinealittlelight: - Conspiracy theorists and Trump's allies claimed there were spies (plural) in 2015. Trump claimed that there was an operation in 2015. No mention of Halper at all. That's what it is. Are we in agreement? starship.paint (talk) 00:36, 26 May 2019 (UTC)
@Starship.paint: I agree with those statements. And I appreciate that you're being very careful. But I add this to what you wrote: by tweeting what he did, Trump himself was promoting Falco's claims, repeated by Dobbs, according to which there were spies (plural) in 2015. Shinealittlelight (talk) 00:48, 26 May 2019 (UTC)
@Shinealittlelight: - but can you relate this to your original question? It has been reported that he was basing that tweet on a claim about a spy back in 2015. Does he take that spy to be Halper? Seems unclear at best. - Nobody in June 2018 mentioned Halper, the reference was really on "ocunus lures". At least, our article doesn't say anything about Halper in the June 2018 allegations. If you have reliable sources on Halper regarding the June 2018 allegations, then they should be added. Otherwise this is a dead end. starship.paint (talk) 01:12, 26 May 2019 (UTC)

───────────────────────── @Starship.paint: Yes, I can relate it to my original point. What I'm arguing for is that BullRangifer and you are mistaken to say that Spygate (in the sense of our article) is only about a single spy, Halper. If Spygate includes the June allegations, then it includes Trump's endorsement of a theory according to which there were spies (plural) involved in the whole affair that he calls Spygate in 2015. So the view that spygate is only about Halper would be mistaken. Do we agree about that now? Shinealittlelight (talk) 01:28, 26 May 2019 (UTC)

Trump's original claims were about a spy. He later began to beat this drum in an expanded sense. He saw that he could use it to rebrand all investigations and surveillance as improper spying, and his base believe him. That is the later history and development, but it's not the original spygate conspiracy theory. -- BullRangifer (talk) 17:01, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
The article currently portrays the June tweets as part of his spygate allegations. Is it part of spygate or not? If so, then spygate involves allegations of more than one spy. If not, then why is it portrayed that way in our article? If the idea is that 'spygate' changes definition over time, then where does it say that in RS, and why isn't this reflected in the article? Here's what I think: RS doesn't support the claim that spygate changed over time (at least to my knowledge), and we're better off to understand spygate as making an unspecified claim of spying on the campaign, with no specific idea of how many spies there were. Shinealittlelight (talk) 17:14, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
"Unspecified" would be counterfactual, because the term clearly started about ONE person, and then got expanded use, and RS do show that. If the article doesn't show that, then maybe it should, but that doesn't change the original use by Trump and what RS said about THAT use by him. That was how this started, and all else should in an "Other (or Later) uses" section. The problem with going too far down that road is that it then brings us to all the misuses of the term to brand all investigations as Spygate, when the term has a historical, very limited, and specific context. Later history has not changed that context. It referred to one specific set of circumstances: Halper's contacts with three campaign members. -- BullRangifer (talk) 17:21, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
The proper way to deal with this expanded use is to create a rather large article about it, and then write a short section here and leave a "main" hatnote pointing to it. Doing it in reverse order would also be proper. This is an application of WP:SPINOUT. -- BullRangifer (talk) 17:25, 25 May 2019 (UTC)

─────────────────────────I don't think I agree. First, you say that the original tweet was about one person. What are the RS which say this? I've seen the Vox article, but Vox, and certainly Vox alone, is plainly not a very strong source. Are there others? It's not plain in Trump's language that he meant a single spy. "A spy" does not necessarily mean one spy. "There is a doctor on board" means that there is one or more doctors on board, not that there is exactly one. So we need RS to support your contention, and I don't think Vox alone is good enough. Second, I really don't agree with you that 'spygate' originally had a very narrow meaning that broadened over time. RS from 5/2018, at the very beginning, all vary substantively in their definitions of exactly what 'spygate' refers to--some define it narrowly, some very broadly. So I really think you should stop saying that it started narrow and expanded later. That's just not what RS say. Finally, if I'm wrong and in fact there are lots of RS who say that spygate originally referred to the one spy Halper, then we would definitely want to change the article. So I recommend assembling all the sources you think support that view, and list them out. That has seemed to be a helpful way to make progress. Shinealittlelight (talk) 18:21, 25 May 2019 (UTC)

Indeed when one thinks spying is going on, or even believes A spy is watching him, who would believe ONLY that spy is involved? Wouldnt any reasonable person understand the spy gets time off and another takes over his shift? Doesnt work alone but with support from an agency with fellow spies? An informant... who does he report to but other spies?Batvette (talk) 22:16, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
WP:NOTAFORUM WP:OR. Reliable sources, please. starship.paint (talk) 00:32, 26 May 2019 (UTC)

Extended-confirmed-protected edit request on 24 May 2019[edit]

Concerning Stafan Halper, SpyGate could be turning into NON-CONSPIRACY theory by this chain of events leading up to Great Britain's Prime Mininster, Theresa May, announcing 5/24/19 to resign 6/7/19: 5/19/19 Indication within, "The disclosure risks deteriorating UK-US relations ahead of Mr Trump's state visit next month." 5/23/19 Trump opens for declassification to Attorney General Barr in review of the Russia probe. On 12/18/16, prelude

Abruptly, there's key resignations tied into then, 12/17/16, (as to what has been thought to be conspiracy theory nowadays):

"The men - former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove, Stefan Halper, a former policy adviser at the White House, and historian Peter Martland - are said to have left amid concerns that the Kremlin is behind a newly-established intelligence journal, which provides funding to the group. Mr Halper told earlier reports that his decision to step down was due to "unacceptable Russian influence" on the group."

That would appear to be “Russian disinformation” with the Steele Dossier, according to The New York times as the new declassification order is expected to likely determine (

Although reported as May resigning to Brexit pressures, Trump's declassification order casts serious doubt while Sir Richard had been advising publicly about Brexit to May. (

Yet, Dearlove, a key figure to Great Britain as a "5 eyes of Intellegence" country looming as found to betray and interfere with the United States Presidential Election of 2016, would appear moreover for May afraid to face. Not while Dearlove associated with Halper. 2605:E000:3CC8:3400:1CE6:1C8C:1D2D:C24C (talk) 22:41, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

Sources for "Unsubstantiated"[edit]

@Starship.paint: Here's my report of the sources that say that Spygate is unsubstantiated. The labels match the previous list above when a source is the same. I've also added some new sources. All use 'unsubstantiated' or an equivalent like 'unverified' or 'unclear'. None of these sources say that Spygate is false; all prefer to say that it is unsubstantiated (or an equivalent). I've skipped sources that just say that there is no evidence and don't call it false, but those sources are legion. The sources below are not quite as central and high quality as the ones I listed before (I hesitated to include Politico), but they're still pretty strong, I think.

[B] ABC News states As he left the White House Wednesday headed to New York, President Donald Trump kept pounding away at what he's now calling the "SPYGATE" scandal after a Twitter tear on the unsubstantiated allegations earlier in the morning.
[E] AP states It remains unclear what, if any, spying was done.
[G] Reuters refers to ...the president’s unsubstantiated allegation last week of an FBI “spy” being planted in his election campaign.
[O] CNBC refers to ...the president’s unsubstantiated claims of an implanted spy in his campaign.
[P] Bloomberg refers to unsubstantiated claim that an FBI informant who contacted advisers to his campaign was a political “spy,”...
[Q] The Hill refers to ... President Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that the FBI spied on his campaign using an informant.
[R] The Chicago Tribune (this is a cached version of the page) refers to "SPYGATE" -- his totally unsubstantiated claim...
[S] Politico refers to ...Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that the FBI, under the Obama administration, spied on his presidential campaign.
[T] The LA Times refers to ...the unfounded claim that the Obama administration improperly spied on his 2016 campaign...

Shinealittlelight (talk) 04:25, 25 May 2019 (UTC)

  • That's great. Thanks again for your hard work. Some, at least, will definitely be included. starship.paint (talk) 07:08, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
  • A claim made with no evidence is a theory. A scandal involving multiple people is called a conspiracy. All of your sources describe a conspiracy theory. We are allowed to use the English language. O3000 (talk) 10:54, 25 May 2019 (UTC) O3000 (talk) 10:54, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
I don't know what this has to do with the support I just provided above for the claim that 'unsubstantiated' is all over RS. But we disagree about what 'conspiracy theory' means, O3K, and we're apparently not going to convince each other. You think "conspiracy theory" is equivalent to "theory about a conspiracy". I think that's obviously false, and I've given examples to support my claim. But I haven't convinced you, and we continue to disagree about it. So why don't we just use "theory about a conspiracy," since you think that means the same thing, and I'm fine with it? Seems like a good solution to me if you really think they are equivalent. Shinealittlelight (talk) 11:06, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
The text in the article is fine as it is. Concise, accurate, no overlinking, follows the results of the RfC. O3000 (talk) 11:34, 25 May 2019 (UTC)

Smith and Napolitano in the Lead?[edit]

Doesn't mentioning them in the lead by name seem undue? Why them and not Boot or Meacham or Blake or ...? Shinealittlelight (talk) 16:04, 25 May 2019 (UTC)

We could just write "some" Fox News hosts. It's important to note in the lead that even Fox News has sensible people who protest against Trump's misuse of this "spying" claim. One expects that from left-leaning sources, but some right-leaning sources also do it. Not all of them are Trumpers. Some of them are actually fact-based and maintain contact with reality. -- BullRangifer (talk) 17:06, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
How about something like "politicians and political commenters from both sides of the political spectrum" or something like that. This seems closer to the actual content in the body to me. Shinealittlelight (talk) 17:20, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
BR is there a reason you feel the need to inject into your comments such obvious personal attacks portraying nearly half the voters in the 2016 election as not fact based and having no contact with reality? It seems the jab could only include editors here who have opposed the article as it stands. If we dont support media efforts to present half the story to smear the president we must be Trumpers right? Youre making it hard to AGF.Batvette (talk) 00:16, 26 May 2019 (UTC)
@BullRangifer:I agree that the rhetoric doesn't help; I could spice up my remarks with jeers to your side too, you know, but I don't. But the purely content-related point you're making is reasonable. How about my proposal? Shinealittlelight (talk) 00:21, 26 May 2019 (UTC)
Done. starship.paint (talk) 00:24, 26 May 2019 (UTC)