Not long ago, I observed that the move was on in the media to discredit three people: Attorney General Bill Barr, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, and investigative reporter/opinion writer John Solomon. These are all now in full swing.
THE HILL, where Solomon’s work used to appear, has just reported on an internal review of his columns they began in November of last year, after U.S. State Department officials in Ukraine criticized them during the Trump impeachment hearings. The review was quite a project, with working groups formed to look at each of 14 pieces Solomon had written for TheHill.com. They “analyzed and discussed them at length, looking at possible corrections and/or context that could have been added at the time of the writings. They also “reviewed congressional testimony and other public documentation related to Solomon’s columns, as well as related media reports, to add editor’s notes to the columns regarding what has been learned since the columns were posted by THE HILL.” They also included some of Solomon’s “relevant public remarks” that were in response to critics.
Solomon was hired by THE HILL on July 10, 2017, as vice president for digital video (to launch Hill.TV), and wrote numerous news articles for them in 2017 and 2018. An editorial decision was made to label his work “opinion” after May 14, 2018. He left THE HILL on October 4 of last year.
When they announced that Solomon would be categorized as an opinion writer, I said that might actually be a good thing, as it allowed him freedom in connecting dots that a straight news writer doesn’t have. (If only more “journalists” who write their opinions were similarly labeled –- but that seems to happen rarely and only with conservative opinion writers.) Here at MikeHuckabee.com, we’ve continued to use his findings as we work to put the puzzle pieces together at our end as well.
THE HILL’s review focused on columns Solomon had written about Ukraine that reported on Joe and Hunter Biden and also members of the U.S. diplomatic corps there. Solomon was appearing frequently on Sean Hannity’s TV show, so his work had a wide reach. My staff and I often refer to his findings –- of course, our work is “opinion” as well, but we stand behind the facts we have used from his reports.
Of course, the issue of corruption in Ukraine, including the Bidens, is what led to “the phone call” between Trump and President Zelensky, the fake “whistleblower” report by ERIC CIARAMELLA, and the whole impeachment charade. (Note: since this is “opinion” and it’s my site, I’ll say that if I want to.) THE HILL followed a vetting process for his columns just as they did with the work of all their opinion writers, involving at least one and often two opinion editors. Solomon had to provide them information about his unnamed sources, identifying them and offering their relevance to the topic, and he had to supply copies of documents he’d referenced as fact or used in the formation of his opinions and conclusions.
No source cited by Solomon ever contacted THE HILL to demand corrections or clarifications –- with one exception: Daria Kaleniuk, co-founder and executive director of the George Soros-funded Anti-Corruption Action Centre (AntAC). She wrote a column strongly rebutting Solomon’s criticism of AntAC and the U.S. embassy’s role in fighting corruption in Ukraine.
It seems to me that THE HILL’s report on Solomon actually compliments his work –- perhaps unwittingly –- when it says people might be confused into thinking it was news and not opinion because it’s long and detailed, contains a lot of facts and caveats and reads like a real news report! Imagine that. Most of what we read today is labeled “news” and reads like opinion; Solomon’s work is labeled “opinion” and reads like news.
Also, a couple of Solomon’s Ukrainian sources have been deemed unreliable by some State Department officials (remember that crew from the impeachment hearings?). Then-Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko had told Solomon he’d opened an investigation into alleged attempts by Ukrainians to interfere in the U.S. election in 2016, and also that then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich had given him a do-not-prosecute list. “State Department officials, U.S. national security agencies and the Senate Intelligence Committee have concluded that Ukraine did not meddle in the 2016 presidential election,” THE HILL’s report asserts. “Russian government officials, who have denied meddling in the 2016 election, have pushed the narrative that Ukraine interfered in that U.S. election.”
This again. It’s verboten to say Ukraine was involved in the 2016 election, as there’s this odd premise that it had to be EITHER Russia OR Ukraine, not both, and it was Russia, so therefore it couldn’t be Ukraine. The candy mint/breath mint argument. Anyone who even entertains the notion that Ukraine tried to interfere is a heretic, a crazy conspiracy theorist. (By the way, I’m not so sure that everyone on the Senate Intel Committee is on board with the conclusion that Ukraine wasn’t involved.)
Also in the report: due to a translation error, it may not have been that Yovanovich had an actual written list. She may have “voiced” the list. And Lutsenko offered Solomon slightly different details in his “list” story than when he told it to a Ukrainian newspaper.
Solomon continues to stand by his columns on Lutsenko, Yovanovich and Ukraine meddling. He also denies allegations that he “smeared” Yovanovich, noting that supportive remarks about her by State Department officials were included in his columns. (Note: The same allegation about smearing Yovanovich has been used to damage Giuliani.) In testimony during the impeachment hearings, these stories were cited as part of the attempt to oust Yovonovich, an official who, in my OPINION, really needed ousting.
The report goes on to discuss Solomon’s columns about the Bidens, noting that “there has never been any proof of legal wrongdoing by the Bidens.” Sorry, but that observation belongs in the same category as “Ukrainians didn’t interfere in the 2016 election.”
One thing that should have been disclosed by Solomon but that has since been clarified is the fact that Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, who both have been involved with some of the key players in Ukraine, even representing the oligarch Dmitry Firtash, are also Solomon’s own longtime lawyers.
After reading the full report, I find nothing that should cast doubt on what Solomon has written. Editors at THE HILL were concerned that their policies regarding the “hybridization” of investigative reporting and opinion writing were causing confusion among their readership, as there are certain rules for reporters regarding full disclosure that Solomon hadn’t followed. My staff and I never had any problem understanding that Solomon’s writing was in the “opinion” category.
But they’ve revised their policies; the new rules are at the end of their report. And one of these is that “opinion” pieces aren't to read like news stories. Personally, I think Solomon’s fact-packed way of writing his “opinion” –- really an ongoing investigation –- is much more useful to someone wanting to understand the complicated goings-on in Ukraine than a run-of-the-mill opinion piece would be. It’s fortunate that he’s gone on to continue investigating and writing on his own.
The Hill's review of John Solomon's columns on Ukraine