December 8, 2017, When Our Old And New News Media Proved Beyond A Doubt That They Were Untrustworthy And If Not Completely Useless, Close Enough For Horsehoes

I am marking down today to cite the next time someone tells me that the news media isn’t disastrously biased, or that President Trump is threatening the First Amendment when he tweets about “fake news” or untrustworthy journalists.

Or perhaps, as an alternative, I will hurl myself into a woodchipper.

Democracy cannot survive, must less thrive, without an informed citizenry, which can only be achieved with an objective, independent, competent journalism sector.

We no longer have one. Behold the nauseating developments of today:

I. This is CNN. This morning I read a CNN.com published a story by Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb that announcing the Trump campaign team received an e-mail on September 4, 2016 with “a decryption key and website address for hacked WikiLeaks documents” that, in turn, was presumably unavailable to the rest of the viewing public. The story, touted a a “bombshell” and covered extensively on TV, was hailed by the media and “the resistance” (but I repeat myself) as the first evidence that the Trump campaign had a heads-up about documents stolen from Democrats. This was, of course, what all my Trump-hating Facebook friends were waiting for, along with the rest of the social media.

Anti-Trump CNN was no doubt jubilent, and crowed,

The September 4 email was sent during the final stretch of the 2016 presidential race — on the same day that Trump Jr. first tweeted about WikiLeaks and Clinton.

…The email came two months after the hacked emails of the Democratic National Committee were made public and one month before WikiLeaks began leaking the contents of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s hacked emails. It arrived less than three weeks before WikiLeaks itself messaged Trump Jr. and began an exchange of direct messages on Twitter.

Trump Jr. told investigators he had no recollection of the September email.

Congressional investigators are trying to ascertain whether the individual who sent the September email is legitimate and whether it shows additional efforts by WikiLeaks to connect with Trump’s son and others on the Trump campaign. The email also indicated that the Trump campaign could access records from former Secretary of State Colin Powell, whose hacked emails were made public by a Russian front group 10 days later.

…The use of a website and decryption key as a means to provide information aligns with past WikiLeaks practices. The idea is that WikiLeaks posts a data file on the Internet, but it is encrypted and impossible to open without the key.

Gotcha, you orange bastard!

All morning and into the afternoon, CNN proudly touted a “Breaking News” banner with a “CNN Exclusive” that read the following: “Emails Reveal Effort to Give Trump Campaign WikiLeaks Documents.”

Oopsie! Did Brian Ross report this? For though the network reported that some sinister figure named Mike Erickson emailed Trump Jr. and others on the Trump campaign on September 4, 2016,  a link to Wikileaks documents as well as a decryption key to access them, The Daily Caller, an evil right wing website that proves its value at such times, obtained a copy of the email provided to The Daily Caller shows Erickson sent the email  September 14, 2016.

The Washington Post first broke the sad news that this was not the much-hoped for smoking gun evidence of treason that Maxine Waters and my Facebook friends has been thirsting for.

The ten day difference is significant, because WikiLeaks had released a batch of stolen documents on September 13. The group was proclaiming its release of the DNC documents, which were published by Guccifer 2.0.

Never mind. CNN kept its false story up after it had been debunked, and it was repeated all over the net and cable news.  How CNN got its report so wrong is unclear. It’s reported article stated that its information was based on a read-out of the Trump Jr. email provided by an unnamed source. Trump Jr.’s lawyer, Alan Futerfas, speculated today that the source was on the Democratic side of the House Intelligence Committee, which interviewed Trump Jr. earlier this week. Erickson was identified by the Washington Post identified  as the president of an aviation management company and small Trump donor, not Boris the Russian Agent.

At at almost 4 pm, EST, three hours after the Post had announced CNN’s utter incompetence, the network finally issued an online correction and an on-air explanation via “CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin,” announcing that the network was

“correcting a story that we have been reporting throughout the day today about an email that was sent to the Trump campaign, to then-candidate Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and others during the heat of the campaign…this e-mail was… ten days later than what we originally reported earlier today and this is — appears to change the understanding of this story because, initially, it seemed perhaps they were being offered access to documents that were not yet publicly available, but in this e-mail from an individual named Michael Erickson.”

Oh.

Later, CNN’s fake ethics reporter Brian Stelter tweeted,

Isn’t it nice to know that when CNN follows its standard editorial process, it still can get the story completely wrong? At least, it can when it adds to distrust of the President of the United States it is trying to undermine.

II.  The Yearbook: The Mainstream News Media Chooses to Ignore What It Wishes Would Go Away.When one of Roy Moore’s ex-teen crushes, Beverly Young Nelson, gave her original press conference with Gloria Allred in November,  and  read aloud from an inscription in her high school yearbook that she attributed to 30+ Roy Moore, including the date and location. “He wrote in my yearbook as follows: ‘To a sweeter more beautiful girl, I could not say Merry Christmas, Christmas, 1977, Love, Roy Moore, Olde Hickory House. Roy Moore, DA,'” she said. Her clear implication was that all of this had been written by Moore, and that this was proof that Moore sought an inappropriate relationship with her in the late 1970s.

Moore then denied writing any of it, as well as any designs on Nelson,

Today, weeks later, Nelson admitted to ABC News that she added “notes” beneath what she said was Roy Moore’s signature in the yearbook.

“Beverly, he did sign your yearbook?” ABC’s Tom Llamas asked her.

“He did sign it,” she said.

“And you made some notes underneath?” Llamas asked. “Yes,” she replied.  Nelson did not specify exactly what she added to the inscription, but the text beneath Moore’s signature reads: “12-22-77 Olde Hickory House.”

This is legitimate news. It doesn’t prove that Moore wasn’t pursuing Nelson, or that he didn’t sign the yearbook. It does show that Nelson (and if she knew, Allred) misled the news media and the public about the inscription. She altered the evidence, and avoided revealing how for weeks. Wrong, Unethical. This is news. Just because it plays into the hands of one of the most unqualified candidates for Senator in U.S. history doesn’t justify not reporting it. However, our journalists and their editors don’t think like I do. You know: ethically.

Because this was news that potentially benefits Roy Moore, the mainstream news media apparently was prepared to bury it.  It doesn’t want to see Moore elected Senator, so it  withhold information relevant to the allegations against him that have been the focus of Democratic and media attacks on the candidate, Republicans, and President Trump.

The liberal mainstream news media did not report the fact that one of Moore’s accusers deliberately tried to mislead the public by altering what she presented as physical evidence.. This is news manipulation.

III. Fox Can’t Even Be A Journalism Integrity Savior Ethically. Fox News, however, without which we would be at the complete mercy of leftist, progressive, partisan news distortion and propaganda, did report the story. Good. This kind of thing is the only justification for Fox;s existence. It almost makes up for Steve Doocey amd Sean Hannity. But It reported the story inaccurately and by hyping it. Not Good.

In fact, pathetic.

Fox News broke the story on-line this way:

I once again burned by trusting this silly network, and posted the link on Facebook, making the point that the carelessness of Nelson made Moore a likely winner, and that she was an idiot. But there was no “forgery.” She did fail to reveal that not all of the inscription was written by Moore, and that’s problematic, and dishonest. However, it seems obvious that her alteration was intended to place the inscription in a specific time and space, not to claim that Moore was the author.

Eventually, Fox changed the headline to one that was factual:

This correction was appended:

An update to this story reflects that Beverly Young Nelson admits writing what ABC News characterized as “notes” beneath what she says is Roy Moore’s signature, and that the only notes below the signature are the date and location. Furthermore, the headline on story now specifies that Nelson admits to writing part of the inscription herself, rather than forging part of it.

[Gloria Allred later appeared with Nelson and “explained”

“that her client had always meant to only include the signature and the Christmas greeting as being written by Moore, saying that she had the signature analyzed and it matched that of Moore” “She never said that he wrote that,” Allred told the press, referring to the date and location that appear at the end of the quote.

She never said he didn’t, however, until today. Unethical. Dumb. And if you knew, Gloria, you should face bar discipline. ]

But wait! There’s more..

IV. The Left’s New Media Can’t Bring Itself To Be Fair And Honest Either Over at ThinkProgress, one would think that Moore’s accuser deliberately misrepresentin her evidnece was all just a fevered dream on the Right:

“Right-wing media outlets are using the “forgery” narrative to undermine the credibility of Nelson’s story and in by extension, the stories of other women who have come forward to accuse Moore of preying on them when they were young girls.”

Damn right they are, because it does undermine their credibility, as any example of intentional misrepresentation plays right into Moore’s defense that the accusations are false and the liberal news media is out to get him. They are, of course, and with good reason, but when it is obvious that at least one of his accusers was misrepresenting evidence, Moore benefits.

In summation, nobody in the new or old media can be trusted to play it straight, tell the truth, be transparent, or not pursue an agenda.

Today showed us just how dire the situation is.

_______________________

Sources: Mediate 1, 2, Fox News,  Daily Caller, Newsbusters,

35 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

35 responses to “December 8, 2017, When Our Old And New News Media Proved Beyond A Doubt That They Were Untrustworthy And If Not Completely Useless, Close Enough For Horsehoes

  1. Matt

    I. “Followed the editorial standards process”

    On numerous occasions I’ve told employees that when they screw up, the absolute worst response they can give is, “I did my best” (Even if proceeded by a heartfelt apology). Why? Because if utter incompetence is your best, then you have no business being in the business you’re in.

    Reminds me of my favorite De Niro line from Casino…”Listen, if you didn’t know you were being scammed you’re too fuckin’ dumb to keep this job, if you did know, you were in on it. Either way, YOU’RE OUT!”

  2. Matt

    II. Today, weeks later, Nelson admitted to ABC News that she added “notes” beneath what she said was Roy Moore’s signature in the yearbook.

    Remember the John Oliver ambush interview of Dustin Hoffman? I do. And one thing that immediately jumped out to me was Oliver’s smug response of, “why would she lie?” in response Hoffman’s implications that perhaps there was more to the story than was being reported…The answer to Oliver’s question? I don’t know, BUT this is why the Due Process Clause exists.

  3. Neil Dorr

    Jack:

    “The liberal mainstream news media did not report the fact that one of Moore’s accusers deliberately tried to mislead the public by altering what she presented as physical evidence.. This is news manipulation.”

    That must explain why I’ve read 5 articles about it today alone. Bury it my ass. The media is corrupt, but it’s a lie to say it was buried or hidden. If you think it was, then you’re not reading carefully enough.

    • It was completely buried until Fox and Breitbart reported it. Then they had no choice. If not for Fox, I doubt it would have been highlighted at all. This happens a lot. I even checked the time signatures of the various reports.Fox News was an hour before CBS, which was the next. The rest dribbled in over the next 8 hours. There was no reason for it not to be an immediate pick-up, and not a coincidence that Fox New jumped on it first. And if there was no Fox News????

      • Sue Dunim

        It takes time to check. Sometimes delays are to bury an inconvenient truth. But there’s always some delay, usually 48 hours, between the time a competent, responsible reporter first hears of something, and the time they find it sufficiently corroborated that it’s not irresponsible to report it.

        Example of one I think has been buried. Trump re-signed the ongoing waver about putting the US Embassy in Jerusalem. It’s not moving from Tel Aviv any time soon.

        Moreover, it has been congressional policy for many years that Israel’s capital be recognised as being in East Jerusalem. No president has thought it important enough to state this because of the utterly predictable crapstorm that would result, with completely avoidable American deaths for no good reason other than striking postures.

        Maybe he thought it was about time that such a gesture was needed. His call, and I won’t armchair quarterback him.

        More probably he was clueless, listening to the last person to get to him on it and not realising the effects. At least he signed the waver though, the cost of moving the embassy would exceed the cost of a new CVN. So he got the important thing right, even though that doesn’t fit the LEDs of either Left or Right. Hence its burial.

        • Joe Fowler

          “…the cost of moving the embassy would exceed the cost of a new CVN.”
          Last CVN (aircraft carrier), cost 12.8 billion, plus R&D. Can you refer me to a source indicating that the cost of moving the embassy would exceed that? Thanks.

        • Isaac

          You can’t reconcile “most Muslims are peaceful and reasonable” with “don’t do reasonable things like describe radical Islamic terror as radical Islamic terror, or have our embassy in the city which we all know is Israel’s. capital…you’ll enrage billions of Muslims and people will die!” Gonna have to pick one.

        • Not this time! The woman admitted the fact hat she altered the inscription on ABC, on television! What “checking” would that require?

        • Jeff

          “No president has thought it important enough to state this…”

          It was apparently important enough for at least the last three presidents to pinky-promise they were going to do it (but only when they needed to shore up support from Jewish voters).

          Trump’s only sin here (and it does seem to be a mortal sin in Washington) is following through on a campaign pledge. Why, it’s almost like he was being honest when he said he would do it during the campaign! Can you imagine an elected official doing such a thing?

          • valkygrrl

            (but only when they needed to shore up support from Jewish voters).

            Not Jewish voters. Evangelicals.

            • Rich in CT

              My liberal Jewish friends are actually thrilled, FYI….

            • Jeff

              I doubt Obama and Clinton were trying to win over evangelical voters when they made such promises.

              Stipulating that evangelicals and Zionists both find the idea appealing, does that change the fact that all Trump has done here is make good on a promise that at least four consecutive presidents have made?

              If it were such a terrible idea, why has it been promised for so long with no intention of actual action? Does that mean, on this one issue at least, Trump is the most ethical president we’ve had for at least a quarter century?

              • The answer, as I said, is that if Trump does it, it’s bad. Simple as that. That’s the standard, and has been all year.

              • valkygrrl

                Because no one ever lost an election by underestimating the American voter? Because symbolic though it may be, it was valuable diplomatic coin that Trump just spent to buy trouble with no gain? Because he could have used it to extract concessions from Israel or used the threat of doing it to extract concessions from nearby Arab states, except he didn’t. Because people running for president make empty promises or promises they think they can keep till they learn the full situation?

                He promised to label China a currency manipulator too. Except now he’s found some gain (probably personal) in not doing so.

                • What concessions from Israel? Jerusalem is already Israeli by treaty. Fulfilling a promise to the public is called “being ethical.” The tactic of disrupting immovable gridlock is called “changing the status quo.” It has negotiation value: it says to the Palestinians, “Since you clowns aren’t serious about peace (they aren’t) then to hell with you. We’ll just pretend you aren’t there. Let us know when you want to stop lobbing SCUDs and get serious.”

                  • valkygrrl

                    The settlements. He could have demanded they stop settlement building.

                    • Explain on what basis the US should be able to dictate Israel’s policies toward a population that refuses, to this day, to admit its right to exist.

                    • valkygrrl

                      We are the leaders of the western world and a superpower. It is our privilege and obligation to dictate policy at anytime we can to suit our national interest.

                      Didn’t someone say American first?

                      This isn’t domestic policy, this is international relations. That’s my coin Donald Trump chose to spend. What did mister art of the deal buy for me?

          • The other reason is that it jeopardizes the incredibly promising prospects for Israel-Palestinian peace. Allegedly honest and serious news sources are actually saying this. Damn that Trump! A peace agreement was this close!

            • valkygrrl

              Building settlements outside the ’67 borders jeopardizes peace prospects. Trump threw away the chance the chance to be, or at least appear as, a good-faith arbiter and made a whole bunch of people pissed at the US.

              Now again, you can do that if it’s in our national interest to do so. Did pissing people off secure us an alliance? Get us a trade agreement? A new buying for arms exports? Access to military based? Did we make any other country change police in our favor at all? Did we get anything? Trump thinks he’s playing political rally and only cares about an applause line but he’s playing the game of thrones and his job is to improve America’s position. Has he done that?

              • valkygrrl

                wow much typos.

                Buyer. Bases. Policy.

              • “Building settlements outside the ’67 borders jeopardizes peace prospects.”

                No.

                Palestinians hating every last Jew alive in Israel is what jeopardizes peace prospects. Palestinians consistently electing leadership that wants to eliminate Israel in its entirety are what jeopardize the peace process.

                Don’t say silly things about settlements.

              • Jeff

                “Building settlements outside the ’67 borders jeopardizes peace prospects.”

                Please tell me what “peace prospects” we had, when merely announcing a recognition of the existing state of affairs (nearly all of Israel’s government is seated in Jerusalem, and it has been the capital in all but name for many decades) is greeted with rioting and violence. When one side of a conflict refuses to accept that the other side should be allowed to exist at all, what basis is there for constructing a lasting peace? If this announcement (which it should be noted, is almost entirely symbolic with very little actual material effect on the real world) can derail the peace process, then the process was a sham in the first place.

                There are no “peace prospects” between Israelis and Palestinians, and there never have been. The sooner we give up the naive notion that there will be peace and harmony in that region, the better. The best we can realistically hope for is an uneasy detente with only occasional violence. True peaceful coexistence is virtually impossible.

  4. Chris

    I am marking down today to cite the next time someone tells me that the news media isn’t disastrously biased, or that President Trump is threatening the First Amendment when he tweets about “fake news” or untrustworthy journalists.

    The news media is disastrously biased, and President Trump is threatening the First Amendment when he tweets about “fake news” or untrustworthy journalists.

    • Translation: The First Amendment isn’t threatened by an untrustworthy, biased, partisan and incompetent news media, but by a President letting the public know that we have an untrustworthy, biased, partisan and incompetent news media to protect himself from its bias, partisanship and incompetence.

      Is that a fair summary of your position?

      • Chris

        No.

        Certainly an untrustworthy, biased, partisan and incompetent news media could undermine public support for the First Amendment, which is very dangerous. That is happening now, and should be criticized.

        But the president has no credibility in calling the news media untrustworthy, biased, partisan and incompetent, as he is all four himself, and often calls stories “fake news” even when they are true. The fact that he sometimes calls them fake news when they are false does not give him any more credibility, as his only criteria for calling stories fake news is whether they make him look bad. This is a president who continues to suggest, contrary to objective reality, that his predecessor didn’t say “Merry Christmas.” He is ethically estopped from criticizing the media’s honesty.

        If Trump only called stories “fake news” when they were false, this might be more defensible. But he does not. That he calls stories “fake news” which are true further undermines the First Amendment. His call for Weigel to be fired certainly does; no president, even one who was responsible and fair in wielding the “fake news” label, should ever publicly call for the firing of a reporter; to do so is authoritarian and a threat to the First Amendnment.

        • Credibility is irrelevant. Are you seriously arguing that a more cedidible President attacking the news media would be LESS dangerous to the First Amendment? If his attacks have no credibility, then there’s nothing to worry about!

          • Chris

            I should clarify: they have no credibility with intelligent people, such as you and I.

            They do have credibility with the 30% of the country who will support him no matter what. And those are the people who would support direct attacks on the First Amendment if Trump wanted them to. (To be fair, this is no different from Democrats who support 1A restrictions when it suits them.)

            • Yes, but when the attacks are borne out by actual conduct, like Weigel or CNN or Ross, all POTUS is doing is pointing out reality, and also saying, “See, what did I tell you?” It’s so east for the news media to win this: play it straight. Here’s Glenn Greenwald:

              It’s impossible to convey with words what a spectacularly devastating scoop CNN believed it had, so it’s necessary to watch it for yourself to see the tone of excitement, breathlessness and gravity the network conveyed as they clearly believed they were delivering a near-fatal blow on the Trump/Russia collusion story…
              All of this prompts the glaring, obvious, and critical question – one which CNN refuses to address: how did “multiple sources” all misread the date on this document, in exactly the same way, and toward the same end, and then feed this false information to CNN?

              It is, of course, completely plausible that one source might innocently misread a date on a document. But how is it remotely plausible that multiple sources could all innocently and in good faith misread the date in exactly the same way, all to cause to be disseminated a blockbuster revelation about Trump/Russia/WikiLeaks collusion? This is the critical question that CNN simply refuses to answer. In other words, CNN refuses to provide the most minimal transparency to enable the public to understand what happened here….Why does this matter so much? For so many significant reasons:

              To begin with, it’s hard to overstate how fast, far and wide this false story traveled. Democratic Party pundits, operatives and journalists with huge social media platforms predictably jumped on the story immediately, announcing that it proved collusion between Trump and Russia (through WikiLeaks). One tweet from Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu, claiming that this proved evidence of criminal collusion, was re-tweeted thousands and thousands of times in just a few hours (Lieu quietly deleted the tweet after I noted its falsity, and long after it went very viral, without ever telling his followers that the CNN story, and therefore his accusation, had been debunked).

              It’s hard to quantify exactly how many people were deceived – filled with false news and propaganda – by the CNN story. But thanks to Democratic-loyal journalists and operatives who decree every Trump/Russia claim to be true without seeing any evidence, it’s certainly safe to say that many hundreds of thousands of people, almost certainly millions, were exposed to these false claims.

              Surely anyone who has any minimal concerns about journalistic accuracy – which would presumably include all the people who have spent the last year lamenting Fake News, propaganda, Twitter bots and the like – would demand an accounting as to how a major U.S. media outlet ended up filling so many people’s brains with totally false news. That alone should prompt demands from CNN for an explanation about what happened here. No Russian Facebook ad or Twitter bot could possibly have anywhere near the impact as this CNN story had when it comes to deceiving people with blatantly inaccurate information.

              Second, the “multiple sources” who fed CNN this false information did not confine themselves to that network. They were apparently very busy eagerly spreading the false information to as many media outlets as they could find. In the middle of the day, CBS News claimed that it had independently “confirmed” CNN’s story about the email, and published its own breathless article discussing the grave implications of this discovered collusion.

              Most embarrassing of all was what MSNBC did. You just have to watch this report from its “intelligence and national security correspondent” Ken Dilanian to believe it. Like CBS, Dilanian also claimed that he independently “confirmed” the false CNN report from “two sources with direct knowledge of this.” Dilanian, whose career in the U.S. media continues to flourish the more he is exposed as someone who faithfully parrots what the CIA tells him to say (since that is one of the most coveted and valued attributes in US journalism), spent three minutes mixing evidence-free CIA claims as fact with totally false assertions about what his multiple “sources with direct knowledge” told him about all this. Please watch this – again, not just the content but the tenor and tone of how they “report” – as it is Baghdad-Bob-level embarrassing—Think about what this means. It means that at least two – and possibly more – sources, which these media outlets all assessed as credible in terms of having access to sensitive information, all fed the same false information to multiple news outlets at the same time. For multiple reasons, the probability is very high that these sources were Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee (or their high-level staff members), which is the committee that obtained access to Trump Jr.’s emails, although it’s certainly possible that it’s someone else. We won’t know until these news outlets deign to report this crucial information to the public: which “multiple sources” acted jointly to disseminate incredibly inflammatory, false information to the nation’s largest news outlets?

              Thus far, these media corporations are doing the opposite of what journalists ought to do: rather than informing the public about what happened and providing minimal transparency and accountability for themselves and the high-level officials who caused this to happen, they are hiding behind meaningless, obfuscating statements crafted by PR executives and lawyers.

              How can journalists and news outlets so flamboyantly act offended when they’re attacked as being “Fake News” when this is the conduct behind which they hide when they get caught disseminating incredibly consequential false stories?

              The more serious you think the Trump/Russia story is, the more dangerous you think it is when Trump attacks the U.S. media as “Fake News,” the more you should be disturbed by what happened here, the more transparency and accountability you should be demanding. If you’re someone who thinks Trump’s attacks on the media are dangerous, then you should be first in line objecting when they act recklessly and demand transparency and accountability from them. It is debacles like this – and the subsequent corporate efforts to obfuscate – that have made the U.S. media so disliked and that fuel and empower Trump’s attacks on them.

              Third, this type of recklessness and falsity is now a clear and highly disturbing trend – one could say a constant – when it comes to reporting on Trump, Russia and WikiLeaks. I have spent a good part of the last year documenting the extraordinarily numerous, consequential and reckless stories that have been published – and then corrected, rescinded and retracted – by major media outlets when it comes to this story.

              All media outlets, of course, will make mistakes. The Intercept certainly has made our share, as have all outlets. And it’s particularly natural, inevitable, for mistakes to be made on a highly complicated, opaque story like the question of the relationship between Trump and the Russians, and questions relating to how WikiLeaks obtained DNC and Podesta emails. That is all to be expected.

              But what one should expect with journalistic “mistakes” is that they sometimes go in one direction, and other times go in the other direction. That’s exactly what has not happened here. Virtually every false story published goes only in one direction: to be as inflammatory and damaging as possible on the Trump/Russia story and about Russia particularly. At some point, once “mistakes” all start going in the same direction, toward advancing the same agenda, they cease looking like mistakes.

              No matter your views on those political controversies, no matter how much you hate Trump or regard Russia as a grave villain and threat to our cherished democracy and freedoms, it has to be acknowledged that when the U.S. media is spewing constant false news about all of this, that, too, is a grave threat to our democracy and cherished freedom.

              So numerous are the false stories about Russia and Trump over the last year that I literally cannot list them all. Just consider the ones from the last week alone, as enumerated by the New York Times yesterday in its news report on CNN’s embarrassment:

              It was also yet another prominent reporting error at a time when news organizations are confronting a skeptical public, and a president who delights in attacking the media as “fake news.”

              Last Saturday, ABC News suspended a star reporter, Brian Ross, after an inaccurate report that Donald Trump had instructed Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser, to contact Russian officials during the presidential race.

              The report fueled theories about coordination between the Trump campaign and a foreign power, and stocks dropped after the news. In fact, Mr. Trump’s instruction to Mr. Flynn came after he was president-elect.

              Several news outlets, including Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal, also inaccurately reported this week that Deutsche Bank had received a subpoena from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, for President Trump’s financial records.

              The president and his circle have not been shy about pointing out the errors.

              That’s just the last week alone. Let’s just remind ourselves of how many times major media outlets have made humiliating, breathtaking errors on the Trump/Russia story, always in the same direction, toward the same political goals. Here is just a sample of incredibly inflammatory claims that traveled all over the internet before having to be corrected, walk-backed, or retracted – often long after the initial false claims spread, and where the corrections receive only a tiny fraction of the attention with which the initial false stories are lavished:

              Russia hacked into the U.S. electric grid to deprive Americans of heat during winter (Wash Post)
              An anonymous group (PropOrNot) documented how major U.S. political sites are Kremlin agents (Wash Post)
              WikiLeaks has a long, documented relationship with Putin (Guardian)
              A secret server between Trump and a Russian bank has been discovered (Slate)
              RT hacked C-SPAN and caused disruption in its broadcast (Fortune)
              Crowdstrike finds Russians hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app (Crowdstrike)
              Russians attempted to hack elections systems in 21 states (multiple news outlets, echoing Homeland Security)
              Links have been found between Trump ally Anthony Scaramucci and a Russian investment fund under investigation (CNN)

              That really is just a small sample. So continually awful and misleading has this reporting been that even Vladimir Putin’s most devoted critics – such as Russian expatriate Masha Gessen, oppositional Russian journalists, and anti-Kremlin liberal activists in Moscow – are constantly warning that the U.S. media’s unhinged, ignorant, paranoid reporting on Russia is harming their cause in all sorts of ways, in the process destroying the credibility of the U.S. media in the eyes of Putin’s opposition (who — unlike Americans who have been fed a steady news and entertainment propaganda diet for decades about Russia — actually understand the realities of that country).

              Finally, THIS:

              U.S. media outlets are very good at demanding respect. They love to imply, if not outright state, that being patriotic and a good American means that one must reject efforts to discredit them and their reporting because that’s how one defends press freedom.

              But journalists also have the responsibility not just to demand respect and credibility but to earn it. That means that there shouldn’t be such a long list of abject humiliations, in which completely false stories are published to plaudits, traffic and other rewards, only to fall apart upon minimal scrutiny. It certainly means that all of these “errors” shouldn’t be pointing in the same direction, pushing the same political outcome or journalistic conclusion.

              But what it means most of all is that when media outlets are responsible for such grave and consequential errors as the spectacle we witnessed yesterday, they have to take responsibility for it by offering transparency and accountability. In this case, that can’t mean hiding behind PR and lawyer silence and waiting for this to just all blow away.

              At minimum, these networks – CNN, MSNBC and CBS – have to either identify who purposely fed them this blatantly false information, or explain how it’s possible that “multiple sources” all got the same information wrong in innocence and good faith. Until they do that, their cries and protests the next time they’re attacked as “Fake News” should fall on deaf ears, since the real author of those attacks – the reason those attacks resonate – is themselves and their own conduct.

              • Chris

                Yes, but when the attacks are borne out by actual conduct, like Weigel or CNN or Ross, all POTUS is doing is pointing out reality, and also saying, “See, what did I tell you?”

                And when they’re not borne out by actual conduct, then all POTUS is doing is promoting his own fake news. This is a man who tweeted a fake anti-Muslim video two weeks ago and praises InfoWars. That he is sometimes right about the media promoting fake news can only be attributed to moral luck, as he will call it fake news whether it’s true or false.

                • But the issue is the news media. Individuals make or break their own trust. LBJ, Nixon, Clinton and Trump basically destroyed theirs, but the President’s job is to lead and govern, not to inform. Journalists only exist to inform. If a leaders leads effectively, the public will forgive some dishonesty. If journalists only tell the truth some of the time, they might as well not tell the truth at all. They are useless.

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