If the mainstream media could devote just one-tenth the energy to fact-checking that they do to wailing indignantly about President Trump’s accusing them of spreading “fake news,” maybe they wouldn’t be spreading so much fake news. This past week brought such a silo of fake news, I’m stunned they managed to get it all out so fast without renting a John Deere manure spreader.
In the space of just seven days, media outlets managed to befoul their own reputations multiple times. To hit just the highlights: Brian Ross of ABC got barred from ever covering Trump again by falsely claiming that Trump ordered Mike Flynn to contact the Russians before the election (it was afterward.) Then the New York Times claimed that an email proved former deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland lied about Russia helping Trump win (it didn’t.) There was a false report that Robert Mueller subpoenaed Trump’s Deutsch Bank loan records. Then on Friday, CNN went wall-to-wall with a “bombshell” story claiming that Donald Trump Jr. received an email on September 4th of last year, offering him advance access to WikiLeaks’ trove of DNC emails. But the bombshell blew up in their faces when it was revealed that the email was actually sent on September 14th, one day after WikiLeaks released the emails publicly, so it wasn’t advance notice at all.
CNN says the reporter will not be disciplined because he followed proper procedures in citing multiple (unnamed, of course) sources. It’s not his fault that all his sources were totally unreliable and he couldn’t be bothered to double-check using resources readily available to anyone online. And they admit this is their standard procedure! Yet they get furious when Trump calls them “fake news.”
Apologists for this kind of journalistic malpractice try to brush it off as simple, honest “mistakes.” If they were just mistakes, you’d think by sheer chance, they would be helpful to Republicans about half the time. Yet the mistakes always seem to make Republicans look bad. And when they do have to eat crow, they never call it a retraction, just a “clarification” or a “correction.” Since I write about news every day, and on incredibly rare occasions get something wrong, let me see if I can help "clarify" these terms for them:
When I ran an obvious parody the other day and realized some people thought it might be real, I “clarified” that it was indeed a parody (those poor comedy writers can’t make up stuff any crazier than the real news these days.) When I realized last week that I had mistakenly typed the name of the former head of an agency instead of the current head, I “corrected” the story by editing it to fill in the correct name. However, if I’d come out with a load of slanderous buffalo chips so completely lacking in facts that it made a Harry Potter novel look like the Encyclopedia Britannica, and then I had to take it back lock, stock and barrel of baloney before it tanked the stock market completely, that would be a “retraction.”
Maybe somewhere amidst all the classes in how to be a crusading leftwing propagandist, today’s journalism professors could set aside 10 minutes to teach those terms. Possibly devote a few minutes to other outmoded concepts, such as "reliable sources" and "fact-checking." If not for the sake of their own industry’s reputation or the interest of the public in knowing the truth, then at least think of the toll this endless cycle of sudden elation and crushing disappointment must be taking on poor Joy Behar.