The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump by Andrew G. McCabe:
On March 17, the FBI press office got a call from a reporter at Circa News, which is owned by the right-wing media powerhouse Sinclair Broadcast Group. The reporter said that sources had told her that I had announced in staff meetings that I hated the president. Said I was out to get Michael Flynn. Said that when Flynn got fired, I slapped high fives with everyone in the room. The reporter made my staff meeting sound like the towel-snapping scene in Top Gun.
There was no truth to any of this and we flatly denied it. In any normal, reasonable world, that would be the end of it. But we’re not in that world. We lost that world at some point. Instead, our denial touched off a new standard cycle of story development. The FBI press office would receive inquiries about fictional scenarios from right-wing news outlets we would shoot them down; the news outlets were unable to go forward. Then the story would appear on some fringe, alt-right website, without a byline. Once it was picked up by the blogosphere and on social media, an outlet such as Sinclair would have cover to repeat it, which would enable Fox News to get on board, and then Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham would talk about it for weeks. This is a practiced, intentional strategy of news circulation. The stories may be fictional and the information false, but the consequences of this strategy are real.