Fake News About Fake News

Leftmedia outlets claim the Mueller report actually vindicates their reporting over the last two years.

Nate Jackson · Apr. 26, 2019

“The Press Didn’t Just Report Accurately on Trump-Russia Corruption. It Prevented the Corruption From Being Worse.” So read a headline at Slate yesterday over a story in which the site’s “chief news blogger,” Ben Mathis-Lilley, argued that the Leftmedia basically got the collusion narrative right all along (though, notably, he used the word “corruption,” not “collusion”). As reporters discovered tidbits, he insisted, Donald Trump and his staff were forced to change course and not actually collude with Russia because of the accurate reporting.

But Mathis-Lilley and his colleagues at Slate are hardly the only ones claiming this absurd revisionist history. CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz claimed Robert Mueller’s report “really corroborated a lot of the good journalism that was done.”

The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake boasted, “The Mueller report was by and large an affirmation of the mainstream media’s investigative reporting. Almost all the big stories were confirmed in the report.”

And the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman insisted, “The report confirms a lot of the reporting by NYT, WaPo and others about the president’s actions, many of which he or his advisers denied in real time.”

While the Leftmedia’s own “fact-checkers” may award points for truth-telling in that some specific claims were indeed factual, from a strategic standpoint it’s hard to unpack how delusional these boasts are. So we’ll focus on just two overarching points.

First, the Leftmedia spent more than two years reporting that Trump had colluded with Russia, not that their reporting stopped him. These scribes may congratulate themselves, but their reporting didn’t even rise to the level of one of Hollywood’s films “based on a true story.” The entire collusion narrative was based on totally fabricated lies, as Mueller’s report made painfully clear. That a few reporters got some facts right while reporting fake news is irrelevant.

Second, a journalist’s job is not necessarily to prevent corruption, as the second part of Slate’s headline claims the media did. It’s true that preventing corruption may be a desired byproduct of good reporting in that no politician wants to get caught, but the idea that journalists should be activists is one of the main problems driving the bias in the media today. Journalism students are taught by leftist academics that they can “change the world,” and these young people then go out into journalism careers thinking their “progressive” mission is to fight everything on the Right. It’s putting it mildly to say that being blinded by partisan advocacy is not conducive to good journalism.

Speaking of blind squirrels, even Hillary Clinton alluded to this nut when she observed in her op-ed that “Watergate offers a better precedent” for going after Trump. Who brought Richard Nixon down? Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein — the idols for subsequent generations of Leftmedia activists.

We find ourselves agreeing with Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi, who argues, “It’s shocking to see national media voices after the release of Robert Mueller’s report patting each other on the back, congratulating themselves for a three-year faceplant they must know will haunt the whole business for a long time.” Leftmedia activists learned nothing, and they’re celebrating themselves for it.

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