Posted by Curt on 15 March, 2021 at 5:26 pm. 7 comments already!


by Becket Adams

It’s one thing if a single news outlet botches an anonymously sourced “scoop.” It’s another thing entirely if multiple newsrooms claim to have independently “confirmed” the botched “scoop” with anonymous sources of their own.

The former can reasonably be explained away as a simple error; the latter is not so simple. It’s unrealistic so many people would be wrong about the same thing. It’s more likely the press shared the same anonymous sources, which leads to uncomfortable questions about whether the media were merely fed bad information or were intentionally manipulated.

In January, the Washington Post scored a humdinger of a “scoop.” Then-President Donald Trump, still reeling from the results of the 2020 election, “urged Georgia’s lead elections investigator to ‘find the fraud’ in a lengthy December phone call, saying the official would be a ‘national hero,’” the Washington Post reported, citing a single anonymous source who supposedly “confirmed” the details of the private conversation.

But recently released audio of the phone call shows that Trump never said these things. He never urged the investigations chief to “find the fraud” in Georgia’s presidential election results. He never promised the investigator would be a “national hero.”

The Washington Post got it wrong, plain and simple.

Correction: Two months after publication of this story, the Georgia secretary of state released an audio recording of President Donald Trump’s December phone call with the state’s top elections investigator. The recording revealed that The Post misquoted Trump’s comments on the call, based on information provided by a source. Trump did not tell the investigator to “find the fraud” or say she would be “a national hero” if she did so. Instead, Trump urged the investigator to scrutinize ballots in Fulton County, Ga., asserting she would find “dishonesty” there. He also told her that she had “the most important job in the country right now.” A story about the recording can be found here. The headline and text of this story have been corrected to remove quotes misattributed to Trump.

If you can believe it, the Washington Post’s dud of a “bombshell” isn’t even the most scandalous thing about this episode in media malfeasance. No, the most scandalous thing is: Several newsrooms claimed they independently “confirmed” the original “scoop” with anonymous sources of their own.

NBC News reported it “confirmed The Post’s characterization of the Dec. 23 call through a source familiar with the conversation.”

USA Today claimed a “Georgia official speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters confirmed the details of the call.”

ABC News reported: “President Donald Trump phoned a chief investigator in Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office asking the official to ‘find the fraud’ and telling this person they would be a ‘national hero’ for it, an individual familiar with the matter confirmed to ABC News.”

PBS NewsHour and CNN likewise appeared to claim they independently “confirmed” the story through their own anonymous sources.

But Trump never said those things. The sources either were terribly mistaken or lying.

The most likely scenario is ABC, the Washington Post, and others talked to the same person or group. It’s either that or a bunch of people managed somehow to be wrong about a very specific claim, which is highly unlikely.

The uncomfortable questions we are left with now are: Whom were they all speaking to? How did this person or these persons get the details of Trump’s private phone call wrong? Are there additional examples of the media reporting bad information provided by anonymous sources we don’t know about, merely because there’s no contradictory audio or video? Just how many anonymously sourced stories are fraudulent? If it can happen this easily, who is to say it doesn’t happen often? Further, how many of these bogus stories have enjoyed the backing of supposed independent corroboration when, in fact, newsrooms most likely talked to the same person or people?

Read more

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x