Every American – blue, red, purple, Republican, Democrat, Independent – has a right to accurate reporting. Facts matter. There is right, and there is wrong – true and twisted. Good journalists know the difference. Sadly, reliable outlets are broadcasting transparent anti-Trump prejudice, twisting and misreporting material facts. Here is proof, if you need it.
On January 17, the Associated Press glibly – and with factual inaccuracy – reported the number of Russians charged on interfering during the 2016 presidential election at 32. A day later, even the Washington Post had to correct their go-to. No, it was 25.
On January 18, the Associated Press reported: “BuzzFeed, citing two unidentified law enforcement officers, reported that [President] Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a Moscow real estate project.” The claim was so bold that Democrats of all stripes swooned, and gave interviews saying impeachment was around the corner.
In a shocking display of fidelity to unbiased process and factual accuracy, Muller’s investigating team issued a sharp rebuke: “Buzzfeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate.” Wind slipped precipitously from the sails of reflexively anti-Trump Democrats.
But the story was not over. On Sunday, national news shows kept up the false narrative. Make no mistake, impeachment talk sells advertising time and papers. Major news organizations rebroadcast the false story, flavoring it – and interviews – with special toppings. One continued saying Buzzfeed’s story had only been “disputed” by Special Counsel’s Office. To be clear, it was forcefully denied – not disputed.
Another outlet said the President’s lawyer, former Federal Prosecutor and New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, “made news” – a line Virginia Democrat Senator Mark Warner parroted – by saying the new “President told Cohen to lie to Congress” story was a sham.
Specifically, Giuliani said President Trump discussed a building project in Russia with personal lawyer Cohen before the election. Now, pause and use logic: Congress only began their Russia-related investigations after the election.
Put aside that partisan dossier and other treachery. Cohen’s name and that invitation to speak to Congress occurred after the election. If no conversations occurred about this embryonic project after the election, as Giuliani assures, then it is impossible for President Trump to have directed Cohen to lie to Congress. Congress had not even invited him to testify. Notably, congressional candidates – by the way – often do not severe business until elected.
Never mind. If it sells to suggest an impossible offense, one forcefully denied by Mueller’s team as well as the President, leading news organizations will now misreport, repeating what they have reason to know is untrue. Number indicted persons? Inflated. When conversations occurred? Conflated. What they were about? Recreated.
Apparently, journalism standards are in unabashed freefall. Anything to help Big Media’s anti-Trump caravan over the big line – triggering impeachment, which will sell advertising like nobody’s business.
Unless of course – it doesn’t. Even when those with ironclad credibility explain no such witnesses, documents, conversations or other indicia, the media ignores them. Truth is now second to sales.
Bottom line: We are in a sad place. Journalists historically abided a code. That code is detailed, and used to go beyond professional ethics; it was a personal code. I know, as I still know good journalists. I respect their integrity. Unfortunately, this new breed – or perhaps the new breed of owners – are consumed by political animus. They are throwing their lot with one side.
By all appearances, we are in a remarkable media race to the bottom – where reporters are no longer proud to report what is, only things that support their favored outcome. Twisting facts, underreporting, misreporting, inflating and conflating whatever does not fit – to make the case.
Only here is the point: Journalists are not hired or expected to be making a case. That is the purview of lawyers, perhaps politicians. Still, every journalist is now a pundit, every pundit an oracle, and every oracle sure impeachment is upon us. I think not. I still believe in truth. Either way: Every American – blue, red, purple, Republican, Democrat, Independent – has a right to accurate reporting. Wouldn’t be refreshing to see more of that?