Michael Swartz / March 19, 2021

After-Effects of Washington Post Fake News

The Post’s “bombshell” on Trump’s Georgia call continues to unravel.

It happens too often to be a simple mistake. Major media outlets lead with a screaming headline implicating a popular figure in wrongdoing, which turns into days of media amplification — until the story begins to fall apart. But by that point the collective has moved on to the next thing, and if the bogus story doesn’t fall into the memory hole entirely when the correction finally comes, it’s buried on the proverbial page 25.

We told you on Tuesday about The Washington Post sheepishly “correcting” its bombshell of President Donald Trump trying to cajole officials in the state of Georgia to “find the fraud” in the 2020 election, but the story of this correction continues to gather steam as an indictment of the mainstream media regarding its laziness in actual fact-checking and over-reliance on “anonymous sources.” (At least, as Steven Hayward at Power Line teases, the Post doesn’t have to return a Pulitzer Prize for this one.) In this case, we’ve also learned that the anonymous source quoted originally was Georgia Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs, who had an “existing relationship” with one of the Post reporters with a byline on the story.

But the sad reality is that finding examples of these “mistakes” has become like shooting fish in a barrel. As for this case, veteran journalist Mark Hemingway described the fallout:

In sum: The Washington Post anonymously printed fabricated quotes they knew were from a second-hand source in the office of a political enemy, couldn’t confirm the quotes with additional sourcing, still attributed them to the sitting president of the United States, used those quotes as a basis to speculate the president committed a crime, and the Democratic party would later repeatedly cite the bogus article when attempting to impeach Trump for “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

While the Post now admits it got things wrong, what about every other outlet that ran with the story, claiming that they each had independently confirmed it? That incestuous relationship between media outlets was enough to get longtime political observer Glenn Greenwald to ask, “How Do Big Media Outlets So Often ‘Independently Confirm’ Each Other’s Falsehoods?” His own answer was unsettling:

All of this highlights the real crisis in journalism, the reason public faith and trust in media institutions is in free fall. With liberal media outlets deliberately embracing a profit model of speaking overwhelmingly to partisan Democrats who use them as their primary source of news, there is zero cost to publishing false claims about people and groups hated by that liberal audience. That audience does not care if these media outlets publish false stories as long as it is done for the Greater Good of harming their political enemies, and this ethos has contaminated newsrooms as well. Given human fallibility, reporting errors are normal and inevitable, but when they are all geared toward advancing one political agenda or faction and undermining the other, they cease to be errors and become a deliberate strategy or, at best, systemic recklessness.

We believe it’s the Leftmedia’s deliberate strategy.

It’s interesting, too, that our most recent previous president was rather restrained in his statement regarding the Post’s correction, although that wasn’t true of everyone. Yet there’s one particularly important truth the president reiterated in his statement: “You will notice that establishment media errors, omissions, mistakes, and outright lies always slant one way — against me and against Republicans. Meanwhile, stories that hurt Democrats or undermine their narratives are buried, ignored, or delayed until they can do the least harm — for example, after an election is over. … This latest media travesty underscores that legacy media outlets should be regarded as political entities — not journalistic enterprises. In any event, I thank the Washington Post for the correction.”

In our humble shop, we don’t depend on anonymous sources to do our daily news analysis, and we will cheerfully admit our bias is toward a conservative, constitutional mindset. And we know from our collective knowledge of history that American yellow journalism is as old as our nation itself, with competing newspapers and publishers printing their version of events up to and including libelous accusations on the character of those the publisher didn’t like. It was up to readers to be discerning on how much trust they put in the information provided, and the same holds true today.

Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “Newspapers … serve as chimneys to carry off noxious vapors and smoke.” Perhaps someone at the mainstream media outlets should open their damper because it’s beginning to stink in there.

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