I left on holiday just as the news was breaking about multiple mainstream media outlets independently reporting a spectacularly false story about WikiLeaks, Donald Trump and Russiagate, and I was pleased to return to find they’d received their much-deserved beatdown for it. One fact that doesn’t seem to have received any attention however is the fact that the Washington Post, who broke the story about CNN’s journalistic scandal, itself grossly distorted the truth to slander WikiLeaks in its own coverage.
In what The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald called “one of the most embarrassing days for the U.S. media in quite a long time,” a breaking story which was sent into immediate virality by CNN and was then independently (and falsely) corroborated by MSNBC and CBS, reporting that someone had emailed Donald Trump Jr with a decryption key allowing him to preview an impending leak drop from WikiLeaks. By the time all the facts were in it turned out that the real story, in its entirety, was that some random guy had emailed Trump notifying him of a Guccifer 2.0 release (not even WikiLeaks) that had already been published.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) September 13, 2016
Obviously Donald Trump Jr receiving an innocuous email about a publication already in existence is not a news story by any stretch of the imagination. It was exactly as newsworthy as it would have been if you, dear reader, had once sent an email to Don Jr informing him of Hillary Clinton’s leaked remarksabout Palestinian election rigging.
Despite the undeniable fact that the CNN/MSNBC/CBS “bombshell” report had been blasted into a complete non-story by the Washington Post’s revelation that they’d misreported the alleged date of the email in question, none of these outlets have retracted their story, instead posting only mealy-mouthed “corrections” full of equivocations like “appears to show”, “suggest” and “it’s unclear whether”.
CNN’s correction even went so far as to say it was “unclear” whether the September 14th email had something to do with Donald Trump Jr’s direct messages with the WikiLeaks Twitter account, despite there being no reason whatsoever to think that it might have. They may as well have written that it was unclear whether the email had anything to do with the Kennedy assassination.
I’m writing this article because it’s worth noting that this adamant, irrational refusal to admit that the US corporate media was temporarily enraptured by a completely false narrative even led the very outlet which debunked that story to itself advance another false narrative of its own about it.
Analysis: CNN just armed Trump with new ammunition to launch another "fake news" attack https://t.co/Wo4hen2abs
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) December 8, 2017
In a Washington Post analysis titled “CNN just armed Trump with new ammunition to launch another ‘fake news’ attack”, WaPo’s Callum Borchers sanctimoniously applauded his employer’s outstanding journalistic integrity while lecturing the schmucks down at CNN for giving weight to the president’s claims that the “fake news” promulgates falsehoods about his administration. Hilariously, Borcher then went on to defend CNN as having made an innocent mistake and claim on no basis whatsoever that the report still revealed important information about WikiLeaks’ interactions with the Trump campaign.
“CNN’s report, though flawed, adds to previous reporting by the Atlantic that WikiLeaks called Trump Jr.’s attention to some of its disclosures through private Twitter exchanges and offered advice during and after the campaign,” Callum writes. “For example, WikiLeaks tipped off Trump Jr. to the launch of a political-action website opposing his father and provided a link, which Trump Jr. tweeted, that highlighted ‘many great stories the press are missing’ in the hacked emails of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.”
This is a wildly false claim. CNN’s report in no way, shape or form adds to the story about WikiLeaks’ interactions with Donald Trump Jr, because those two things have nothing at all to do with one another. There have never been any facts anywhere showing that the aviation professional Michael J. Erickson who sent the email is affiliated with WikiLeaks in any way. It was already a very shaky claim that Erickson was involved with WikiLeaks before it was revealed that CNN had misreported the whole thing, so for Callum to knowingly suggest this after it was revealed that Erickson had no special insider information about WikiLeaks is blatant journalistic malpractice.
— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) November 14, 2017
So the very outlet which pointed out the journalistic malpractice of CNN, MSNBC and CBS itself committed journalistic malpractice while covering it. While it didn’t receive a fraction of the attention that the other reports did, this is worth noting for two reasons. Firstly, it shows that the US mainstream media are so pervasively corrupt that even when they appear to be calling one another out they still protect one another and lie for each other (contrary to Callum’s claim that the whole ordeal proves that the mainstream press polices itself). Secondly, it’s important not to forget that the Washington Post is no less manipulative and deceitful than CNN.
As I never tire of pointing out, Jeff Bezos did not buy the Washington Postbecause he was expecting newspapers to make a lucrative comeback. Jeff Bezos did not become the wealthiest man alive with obscenely profitable ties to the CIA and the Pentagon by being the sort of person who thinks newspapers are about to make a profitable resurgence. Bezos became WaPo’s sole owner because he knew the establishment he was building his empire upon would require a robust propaganda mouthpiece to manipulate public opinion, and he wanted to have full control of it.
These corporate media “errors” only ever go one way. You never hear about CNN or WaPo issuing a correction for under-reporting the egregiousness of a breaking Russiagate story; it’s only ever gross exaggeration or outright falsehood in the favor of the establishment Russiagate narrative. This means that it’s highly unlikely that these “errors” are really errors at all. WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange recently made the excellent suggestion that whenever commenting on such faux blunders we should call out the oligarch who owns the media outlet responsible, so Jeff Bezos, this one goes out to you.
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