This week, the Washington Post was forced to majorly correct its January 9 report on President Trump’s phone call with a Georgia elections investigator. The article’s headline read “‘Find the fraud’: Trump pressured a Georgia elections investigator in a separate call legal experts say could amount to obstruction.” In other words, one of America’s largest newspapers publicly claimed that the sitting president had committed potentially criminal misbehavior.
House Democrats cited Trump’s alleged pressure on Georgia election officials in their article of impeachment against Trump, and they cited The Washington Post article itself in their impeachment brief and during televised oral arguments. The only problem is, “they made up quotes,” as CNN commentator Mary Katherine Ham tweeted. Trump never said “find the fraud” in his Georgia phone call, as The Post had boldly reported.
The Post, which last destroyed a sitting president nearly 50 years ago in the Watergate scandal, has spent the last four years with the rest of the mainstream media wishing Trump would misstep so they could destroy him, too. But, barring real evidence, it seems any fake scandal will do. The news media during Trump’s term in office has paraded out one spurious allegation after another — Russia collusion, a Muslim ban, “very fine people,” kids in cages, Ukraine corruption, insulting veterans, and now the Georgia hoax. Almost all these stories prominently feature, insinuate about, and repeat ad nauseum claims by anonymous sources, secret documents, or outright lies.
The media’s only false claims about Trump that have been squelched are those where documents released later proved their original reporting to be false. Still, a retraction never gets the airtime of a lie, so it’s usually too little, too late.
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The Post’s January 9 story and their retraction “two months after publication” is no different. In the 130-word correction, they admit “The Post misquoted Trump’s comments on the call, based on information provided by a source.” That is, an anonymous source. They continue, “Trump did not tell the investigator to ‘find the fraud’ or say she would be ‘a national hero’ if she did so” — fake quotes that made the original story lively. Trump’s actual comment was that the investigator would find “dishonesty” in ballots Fulton County if she looked. For the record, Fulton County’s election results have also been called into question by a superior court judge, the Georgia Secretary of State, and the Democrat-controlled Fulton County Election Board. Trump also told Georgia’s top election investigator that her job — verifying the election — was “the most important job in the country right now.”
There used to be a perception that journalism was a rigorous profession, reporting cold, hard facts verified by multiple, on-the-record sources, because it used to be true. But today’s postmodern culture has rejected the very notion of absolute truth, replacing it with the idea that any truth claim is really an attempt to exert power over someone — an idea from critical theory that is friendlier to a Marxist worldview. Sadly, the mainstream media, which has fully ingested this worldview, will continue to promote their political agenda through brazenly false narratives. They will do this without remorse and without consequences, because they are telling their readers what their itching ears want to hear.
In a perfect world, the Post’s misleading reporting would earn “Four Pinocchios.” But if we lived in a perfect world, we would need no “Pinocchio” system. The Washington Post ostentatiously displays a banner reading “Democracy dies in darkness” above every story. If only they could be bothered to bring the truth to light.