The Washington Post and the New Era of Fake News
Eric Lendrum, Politics Contributor
Opinion -- We are in a new era of media bias. The media, out of its unique and especially strong hatred for President Trump, has taken up a new method of attack. It has gone from relentlessly reporting others’ claims against the president, no matter how dubious (from sexual misconduct to alleged racial discrimination), to being the accusers themselves, claiming to present evidence of wrongdoing in a ridiculous effort to be the next standard-bearer for investigative journalism.
The problem? They present such “evidence” almost entirely from “anonymous” or “unnamed” individuals, from “unknown” government agencies, who claim to “have knowledge” of these situations that may or may not even exist. In other words, we are now in an era where news outlets will fabricate evidence themselves, under the guise of “anonymous sources,” and spread these lies as fact. And when one outlet does it, others instantly take that site’s reporting as fact in and of itself, and copy it to create a rather absurd cycle, as perfectly explained in this Tweet.
And there is no greater perpetrator of this ultimate fake news practice than the Washington Post. Washington Post has been leading the charge on this entire fake Russia narrative since President Trump took office, as they have almost exclusively been the source of every single big “leak” against the President.
Take first, for example, the story claiming that President Trump declassified intelligence information to Russian officials. The story’s only “sources” are “current and former U.S. officials,” “a U.S. official familiar with the matter,” “a former U.S. official who is close to current administration officials,” and “a former intelligence official who handled high-level intelligence.” Not once do they even come close to giving an actual name or even hinting at what agency such officials belong to. Meanwhile, the rebuttal to these claims was given by an actual person with a name: National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.
Thus, it is not hard to imagine that this story has already started to fall under its own weight, particularly when Russian President Vladimir Putin offered to release transcripts of the meeting in order to prove such disclosure did not happen. But even that did not stop fake news media from deliberately changing the headlines to make it seem like the exact opposite, such as when the New York Times reported the story as “Putin Offers to Provide a ‘Record’ of Trump Disclosures to Russian Envoys.”
Another smaller, but still rather egregious example is the Washington Post’s reporting of a comment made by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in a private meeting of House Republicans last year, in which he said “I think Putin pays” Trump. The article, released shortly after the supposed “bombshell” of the declassified information, calls this “a politically explosive assertion,” and claimed that Speaker Paul Ryan “immediately interjected, stopping the conservation...and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.”
However, this was a case of very selective editing on the Washington Post’s part, as they refused to release the transcript of the conversation. That is because the transcript instantly destroys this story by proving that the whole conversation was a joke, filled with numerous other “assertions” about Russia and other Republican figures such as Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, and laughter in between from those who were present. Even Speaker Ryan could not finish his sentence about “no leaks” (also a joke) without laughing in between his words.
The Washington Post took a literal joke and acted as if it was serious. Again, all in an effort to smear Trump.
But the worst offense committed by the Washington Post is undoubtedly the reporting of the so-called “Kushner affair,” in which they claimed to have evidence that Jared Kushner met with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak to ask for a secret “back channel” of communication between the White House and the Kremlin. Their source? “U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports,” “current and former U.S. officials,” and “one former senior intelligence official,” among others. Sound familiar?
This story is even more damning against Washington Post, though, when the article admits that its initial “source” consisted of “an anonymous letter” and “officials who reviewed the letter and spoke on the condition of anonymity.” From that point on, the article references its “facts” as “according to those officials and the letter.” It openly admits that its source, its entire basis for writing this article that dominated headlines even in the midst of the Manchester terror attack, was an anonymous letter and equally anonymous officials who read the letter, without actually giving said letter to the Washington Post. This qualifies as “journalism” in today’s world.
As such, the use of both the anonymous letter and the anonymous officials was easily debunked by other outlets. Fox News reported later that other equally anonymous officials directly disagreed with the assertion that Kushner asked for a backchannel. Instead, they insisted that the entire idea of a “backchannel” was only mentioned once, in passing, by Kislyak while discussing the subject of Syria, and it was promptly dismissed. This proves how easily a story built entirely off “anonymous sources” can be countered by other “anonymous sources.” At the same time, the Daily Caller reported that Washington Post editors “refuse[d] to publicly release the smoking gun ‘anonymous letter’” when challenged to do so.
Also, it was further pointed out that, even if the Kushner story was true, it would thoroughly debunk the entirety of the “Russian conspiracy” narrative propagated by the left: If there truly was collusion between the Trump team and the Russians since before the election, why would they ask for a “backchannel” just now, several months after the election?
As the New York Post so eloquently described it, the entire Kushner story is “a big fat nothing-burger.” Jessie Jane Duff, a Senior Fellow of the London Center for Police Research, asserted on Twitter that “The Washington Post really is making it up as they go along.”
It is all too easy to do a quick bit of psycho-analysis on the Washington Post here. Beyond the obvious fact that its CEO, Jeff Bezos, is an ultra-partisan figure who despises President Trump, I think another motivation for all of this is a sense that the Washington Post is a “has-been” publication. Self-righteous editors, reporters, and others there want to see the paper return to its glory days, when it was the outlet that pulled back the curtain on Watergate - you know, when it was doing actual investigative journalism. They want to turn this entire Russian conspiracy theory into Watergate 2.0 so that they can reclaim their status as the gold standard of investigative journalism, and say that they spearheaded this investigation too.
But no matter how hard you try, you cannot make something real out of something that does not exist. In the process, the Washington Post has become the ultimate fake news outlet.
You can follow the author on Twitter: @EricLendrum26.
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