Media coverage of Trump and Russia: A parade of sins

Oh, brother. Listen to self-satisfied journalists defend their discredited reporting on the Trump/Russian nothing. As if to say, "Oh, what a good boy I am,"  Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the New York Times, said he had no regrets.

No regrets? No corrections or amplifications?

Oh, wait. It did publish a correction today:

An article on Friday about President Trump’s behavior during the Mueller investigation misidentified the person for whom Annie Donaldson served as chief of staff. It was Donald F. McGahn II, not Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The "article" that's being corrected? "A Portrait of the White House and Its Culture of Dishonesty." Not an opinion piece, an op-ed, an editorial or even labeled "analysis." And the beat goes on.

T. Becket Adams, writing in the Washington Examiner, catalogued just a few of the Times, umm, proud moments in "Collusionpalooza and its consequences":

The Times claimed in 2017 that Trump campaign officials had “repeated contact with Russian intelligence” officials during the election. Former FBI Director James Comey himself refuted the charge during a congressional hearing, saying the story “was not true.” The newspaper also claimed incorrectly that K.T. McFarland, the former deputy national security adviser, conceded in a private email that Russia swayed the 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favor. McFarland said no such thing. Rather, she had paraphrased partisan criticisms of the Trump administration as suggesting this. The Times parroted a leftover Clinton campaign talking point throughout 2017, claiming inaccurately that “all 17 intelligence agencies agreed Moscow interfered in the U.S. election to get him elected.” The interference assessment was a conclusion drawn by analysts representing three intelligence agencies acting “under the aegis” of the office of the director of national intelligence, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified on May 8, 2017. The 17 cited by the Times was a holdover from the election, one designed by Clinton’s team to sound more impressive and frightening than saying only three agencies agreed about Russian election-meddling. The Times also reported former national security adviser Michael Flynn said in a tweet that he is “the sole scapegoat for what happened.” Flynn never said that. A parody Twitter account did.

Read the rest of the article to savor the entire docket of other media, ummm, errors.

Oh, but there's more, a lot more. The New York Post, for example, lists the "Top 10 things the media got wrong about ‘collusion’ and ‘obstruction.’" They include slap downs of the New York Times, CNN, The Guardian, The Atlantic, Mother Jones, Washington Post, McClatchy and Buzzfeed.

Matt Vespa, in Town Hall recounts how Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald took to Twitter to scorch MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, the The New Yorker and more for making "this narrative into something of a psycho left-wing cult."
Matt Taibbi, who, as the author of “Insane Clown President,” called Mueller's report “a death blow for the reputation of the American news media.” "In purely journalistic terms, this is an epic disaster," he said, comparable to the media's botched reporting on the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Even the Columbia Journalism Review warned of the coming bi-partisan spanking of the media, citing Taibbi's criticism from the left and the usual voices from the right:
Pundits on both sides of the aisle didn’t hesitate to point fingers at the media for hyping the report. Over the weekend, Fox News hosts blasted the likes of CNN and MSNBC for their coverage. “CNN, MSNBC, and the mainstream media have lied to the the American for 2 plus years,” Sean Hannity tweeted Sunday. “Now they will be held accountable.”
Well, not by themselves. Introspection is not a hallmark of today's journalism. Only Hollywood with its Oscars outdoes preening journalists in the exercise of self-congratulations.
, writing on The Poynter Institute blog, (it describes itself as "the world’s most influential school for journalists") writes, "With Mueller report, the media begins its long look inward." Or maybe not. The same story quotes Washington Post media columnist Margaret in a column published Monday,

“I reckon that American citizens would have been far worse off if skilled reporters hadn’t dug into the connections between Trump’s associates — up to and including his son Don Jr. — and Russians,” Sullivan wrote. “That reporting has not been invalidated.”

She also wrote, “I reckon that reporting by The Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, BuzzFeed, CNN, Bloomberg News, the Daily Beast, Mother Jones, ProPublica and others drove forward a national conversation that needed to happen.”

And she concluded by writing that the media, “should (not) allow themselves to be bullied about the important work they’ve done, and must continue to do.”

Well, that pretty much sums up of the attitude of some of the news people I've worked with. But not all. I'm hoping that today's journalists understand that their First Amendment protections are endangered when they fail to do their job faithfully...and can't admit it.

dennis@dennisbyrne.net

www.dennisbyrne.net 

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  • So there's was no criminal conspiracy, no collusion. Just numerous contacts with Russian operatives, all close to Mr. Putin, and never once reported to the FBI. But who's at fault here? The free press for reporting these contacts. Of course,here it's Trumpland.

  • Media columnist Margaret? Spare my blushes and let me know her last name, please!

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    Margaret Sullivan. Sorry, overlooked putting in her last name. I always valued having copyreaders back up my work; obviously, I miss them. You too can find it by following the link.

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    The mainstream press got some things wrong. So did Fox News. Neither is good about critiquing itself.

  • Media columnist Margaret? Spare my blushes and let me know her last name, please! www.ttrockstars.com

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