Call this not “Fake News,” but “Confirmation Bias Leaping To Conclusions News.”
Many sources prone to assume the worst of anything related to President Trump, including MSNBC and my source here, Jonathan Turley, reported that the White House had intentionally excised a question asked of Russian President Vladimir Putin during last week’s news conference in Helsinki and his answer. Maddow gleefully reported in her best “gotcha! you bastards!” tone,
“We can report tonight that the White House video of that exchange has also skillfully cut out that question from the Reuters reporter as if it didn’t happen!”
Ah, but the good, MSNBC-allied, “resistance”- friendly Washington Post also had posted the same transcript, and set about putting Maddow et al, straight, as much as it must have hurt.
“No, the White House didn’t intentionally edit a question to Putin out of a video,” explained the Post’s usually Trump-a-phobic Phillip Bump:
Here’s the thing: That’s also how The Post’s transcript of the news conference initially read, too. Ours came from Bloomberg Government and ours, too, excluded the first part of the reporter’s question in which he begins, “President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election”.
What happened? If you watch the videos, it’s pretty clear. At some point in the middle of that question, there’s a switch between the feed from the reporters and the feed from the translator. In the White House version of the video, you can hear the question being asked very faintly under the woman who is translating saying “president.” You can hear the same audio in The Post’s feed, starting at about a minute in.
We did not edit the question out. This is the feed we were provided.
In this version of the news conference posted by Fox News, you can hear something different. In this, the question being asked more prominently with the translator muted and in the background.
But more importantly in that video, you can hear the actual switch-over.
If you’re wearing headphones, you can notice how the latter part of the question is suddenly audible in the right earpiece. At first, the right channel is only the translator. Mid-question, the reporter is suddenly heard in both left and right as the translator feed drops out. Notice, too, that Putin then picks up his earpiece — through which he can hear the translations — and puts it in his right ear.
Our transcript and the White House’s were apparently based on the feed that runs only in the right channel. A White House official told CNN’s Abby Phillip that its transcript “did not have Mason’s audio turned up in time,” referring to Reuters reporter Jeff Mason, who asked the question.
This is not a conspiracy from the White House. While the White House certainly has a track record of misrepresenting facts, this would have been a remarkably futile revision of reality to attempt. As it turns out, they didn’t.
Consider this the Ethics Alarms apology and correction.
I’ll be waiting for Turley’s and Maddow’s….