Stupid Or Malicious? The “Anonymous Source” For The Washington Post’s Fake “Bombshell,” Georgia Deputy Secretary Of State, Jordan Fuchs [Corrected]


This is a Hanlon’s Razor classic. In this post, I covered the mass smear of President Trump engineered by mainstream media sources led by the Washington Post. They all claimed that while still in office, “Trump pressured a Georgia elections investigator in a separate call legal experts say could amount to obstruction.” Direct quotes were cited in which the President supposdly told the investigator to “find the fraud,” and several of the major news organizations falsely implied that their reporters had heard those words on the tape. They had not, and the President never said them. The recording, which was supposedly destroyed, turned up, and proved that the sole “anonymous source” who characterized the conversation mislead reporters, who then misled the public.

In the Ethics Alarms essay, I stated that the Post now had an obligation to reveal its “anonymous” source, because it had no justification for protecting the identity of someone who provided false information. Yesterday, the Post did reveal her identity: Jordan Fuchs, the Georgia deputy secretary of state, who had spoken with the investigator regarding the President’s call.

So this was not just hearsay, it was double hearsay. That was the basis of a Post story that made it seem as if the President was asking an investigator to manufacture evidence of election fraud. That was the basis on which the nation was l led to believe that a Republican President was trying to undo the Georgia presidential election.

[Note of Correction: I had incorrectly suggested that the Post account was published before the Georgia Senate run-offs. That was incorrect. I apologize for the error.]

The Post now is trying to claim that its false account was no big deal. “This call between the President of the United States and a state-level investigator was the real irregularity,” writes veteran Post hack and serial Ethics Dunce Erik Wemple. “‘That was an ongoing investigation,’ [Secretary of State] Raffensperger told The Post at the time. “I don’t believe that an elected official should be involved in that process.”

Nice one, Erik: Raffensperger’s quote was based on the false account of what Trump said, and here you are using it in the context of the actual conversation. How was the President “involved”? The recording shows he told an investigator that she should investigate.

Wemple keeps spinning: “The call happened; it was an abuse of presidential authority; and it failed to corrupt the investigators working under Raffensperger.” It was not an abuse of authority, because the President didn’t order or require the investigator to do anything. How would the President, in the Post’s correction’s terms, urging “the investigator to scrutinize ballots in Fulton County, Ga., asserting that she would find ‘dishonesty’ there,” and telling her that she had ‘the most important job in the country right now,’” corrupt her? Everyone knew that Fulton County would be the center of any vote-counting issues, if there were any. The President telling an official that her job is important is potential corruption? Only when President Trump does it, apparently.

The fact is that without the false characterizations of the call relayed by Fuchs, there would have been no story. Nonetheless, the Post is adamant that it didn’t retract the story, it just corrected it. This is despicable. The headline about “pressure” would not have been written without the false quotes. The actual conversation did not show the President pressuring the investigator to do anything she wasn’t already doing. It showed him using questionable judgment in making the call, but that was hardly a shock.

Then Wemple relies on Fuchs to argue that what the Post reported (and Fuchs told them) was close enough. “I believe the story accurately reflected the investigator’s interpretation of the call. The only mistake here was in the direct quotes, and they should have been more of a summary,” Fuchs told Wemple. “I think it’s pretty absurd for anybody to suggest that the president wasn’t urging the investigator to ‘find the fraud.’ These are quotes that [the investigator] told me at the time.”

So is Fuchs an idiot, or is she a deliberate liar? For the President to say “Find the fraud” is materially distinct from “look at the ballots in Fulton County.” If the head of a murder investigation says, “search this suspect’s home,” that is not the same as saying, “find evidence that proves the suspect did it.” It’s not absurd to conclude that Trump wasn’t urging the investigator to “find the fraud,” it is illogical and unfair to say he was. If the investigator concluded that she was being told to “find the fraud,” that’s her unwarranted assumption. But that’s just what Fuchs said she assumed: who can believe Fuchs, at this point?

Meanwhile, whose “mistake ” were the direct quotes that happened to be published in multiple news sources? This is a cover-up. Fuchs deliberately misrepresented an interpretation of a conversation she didn’t hear to make it seem like the President was saying something he didn’t. The Post, eager to smear him and using the “it sounds like something he would do” reasoning—that’s confirmation bias—published her false and uncorroborated account as fact. That false story was then repeated as fact by other sources. The Post’s correction is really a retraction, because the information that spawned the story was proven to be fabricated, and the real quotes would not have justified a front page “bombshell” at all.

And I think Fuchs is malicious, whether she is stupid as well or not.

15 thoughts on “Stupid Or Malicious? The “Anonymous Source” For The Washington Post’s Fake “Bombshell,” Georgia Deputy Secretary Of State, Jordan Fuchs [Corrected]

  1. “Bombshell” has been so over-used it’s become an insult to bombs. Everything’s a bombshell. Sheesh. Whenever I see the word in a headline, I immediately assume I’m about to be spun like a top.

  2. Every part of this take is wrong.

    First, the Post’s story was not false. It was paraphrasing the call and thus should not have used quotation marks, but it was an accurate paraphrase. Whether he pressured the investigator to find “fraud” or “dishonesty” changes nothing about the substance. Whether he said that she would be a “hero” or “praised” changes nothing about the substance.

    When a powerful person tells an investigator in advance of an investigation what the result of the investigation will be and tells her that finding the evidence to prove this result is the “most important job in the country,” that is no more asking for an honest investigation than a mafia don saying, “Nice place you’ve got here; shame if anything were to happen to it” is commenting on the interior decorating.

    Second, the Washington Post’s report on this call was published January 9 — four days AFTER the January 5 senate runoff elections, not “just as two crucial elections for the state’s U.S. Senate seats were days away.”

    • “First, the Post’s story was not false. It was paraphrasing the call and thus should not have used quotation marks.”

      I stopped reading after that dishonest and pathetic sentence.It is unethical to “paraphrase” and dishonest to say “it should not have used” quotation marks—that is equivocation: to use them meant it was a quote. It wasn’t. Thus the story was false by definition. Who are you, Dan Rather?

      Don’t come here and defend lies by lying. The next comment like this won’t be posted, and it will be your last.

      I let this through because your date correction is correct and helpful. Thanks.

  3. Will nobody rid me of this turbulent priest?

    To play devil’s advocate, isn’t the exact verbiage less important than the meaning? Does this not fall into the realm that if someone very powerful even hints at wanting something done, that’s to be understand as he’s commanding that it be done?

    Of course, if we’re saturated in a culture that thinks the crime is in how words and gestures are received rather than the intent of the one conveying the message, we should expect that people see the exact verbiage as irrelevant. Trump wanted the results changed, so he must have been indicating he wanted fraud found, even if it had to be fabricated. How could it be any clearer?

    As for Fuchs, my response to the title questions is, “Or?”

    • The President has zero influence over a state government official. I would reject your statement outright, but playing devil’s advocate to you I’d say it only applies if the powerful person has some sort of power or authority over the other. That doesn’t exist in this case.

  4. Assistant U.S. AG James A. Wells (Wilford Brimley in Absence Of Malice):

    You (a [IMO] trey fetching Sally Field’s Megan Carter) know and I know that we can’t tell you what to print or what not to. WE HOPE THE PRESS WILL ACT RESPONSIBLY, BUT WHEN YOU DON’T, THERE AIN’T A LOT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT. WE CAN’T HAVE PEOPLE GO AROUND LEAKING STUFF FOR THEIR OWN REASONS. IT AIN’T LEGAL. AND WORSE THAN THAT, BY GOD IT AIN’T RIGHT.” (bolds/caps/italics mine)

  5. Fuchs was not complaining to her friends or her mother. She was leaking hearsay to a “newspaper” known to be a propaganda rag for the democrat party. It was, in my opinion, obviously malicious. Who she gave the fake information to makes it plain what her intent was.

  6. Is the wording ‘find the fraud’ a tell, in the sense that ‘the fraud’ implies the speaker – in this case the source – knew there was fraud? If the speaker didn’t know of any fraud, wouldn’t it be more natural to say ‘find some fraud’?

  7. Jack wrote, “This is a Hanlon’s Razor classic.”

    Hanlon’s Razor certainly applies to the actions of the left leaning media but maybe not the way some would think. I think they are very INTENTIONALLY doing stupid things knowing full well that they are using an ends justifies the means rationalization to attack President Trump so at a later date they can claim ignorance or stupidity and can’t be accused of malice with forethought. I think the last four years have shown over and over again that everything the left leaning media puts to “press” is pure propaganda with malice and they don’t give a rats ass whether it’s true or false as long as their end goal of attacking President Trump was achieved and he was removed from the Presidency.

    I don’t trust anything that comes out of the left leaning media now, I do mean anything, their record over the last four years is so bad that I have to verify absolutely everything they say with opposing news sources. In my opinion the Fourth Estate has been forever* tainted.

    *Forever: within my lifetime.

    Also; Jordan Fuchs, the Georgia deputy secretary of state, is a verified liar that clearly had malicious forethought to lie about a specific candidate to smear the GOP candidates in an ongoing election to specifically interfere with the outcome of that election. This is outright manipulation of the public from an elected official for the purpose of manipulating the outcome of an ongoing election, she intentionally inserted lies into the ongoing election to rig the election and there should be stiff legal consequences.

    It’s probably not possible; but, I think President Trump and the Georgia GOP Senate candidates that lost the election should have some kind of a class action lawsuit against Jordan Fuchs for her intentional defamation and election engineering.

  8. Maybe my language skills aren’t that great, but I still fail to find much to get worked up over, even if the original made-up quotes had been verbatim. Trump supposedly told an elections investigator to “find the fraud”. This is someone whose job description is to investigate election fraud, so isn’t that pretty much just him asking her to do the job she’s supposed to be tasked with? We know from multiple public statements that Trump believed there was fraud in the Georgia election, so him telling her to find evidence of it is hardly surprising and not particularly nefarious, right? If he believed that it was there to be found, then the (fake) statement is fairly innocent, no?
    Am I missing something?

    I mean, if you’re going to make up a fake quote, why not go with something a little more damning than something that amounts to just “do your job”? Then again, we’re talking about a government bureaucrat, so asking them to do their job well is about the most insulting, outrageous request that you can make…

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