Liberal journalist Glenn Greenwald brutally criticized The Washington Post’s coverage of Russian meddling Tuesday, declaring the mainstream outlet’s reporting on the subject a “much greater menace” than fake news.
“Both stories were fundamentally false,” Greenwald wrote in The Intercept, referring to two recent stories from WaPo regarding the threat Russia poses to U.S. interests. Both now contain embarrassing corrections from editors. “Whatever the motives, the effects of these false stories are exactly the same as those of whatever one regards as Fake News,” he added.
Most recently, a report that Russia hacked the U.S. power grid turned out to be baseless, when facts came to light that revealed the computer in question was disconnected from the grid and that there’s no sign Russia was involved. (RELATED: WaPo Ignores Basic Reporting Standards In Three Bungled Russia Stories)
Problems with another report on Russian propagandists manipulating the spread of fake news to damage the U.S. election forced editors to fend off a defamation lawsuit threat. WaPo eventually acknowledged a key part of the story might not be credible, writing in an editor’s note that the paper “can’t vouch for the validity” of a report heavily cited in the story.
Noting that the corrections issued to these stories likely didn’t reach much of the original audience who shared the story widely, Greenwald says WaPo ends up “richly rewarded” for the stories even as the public is “deceived.” (RELATED: Anyone Who Reads About Russian Hacks Should Read This First)
“In these cases, they did not make good faith mistakes after engaging in careful journalism,” he writes. “With both stories, they were reckless (at best) from the start, and the glaring deficiencies in the reporting were immediately self-evident (which is why both stories were widely attacked upon publication).”
“That the story ends up being completely discredited matters little,” he concludes. “The damage is done, and the benefits received. Fake News in the narrow sense of that term is certainly something worth worrying about. But whatever one wants to call this type of behavior from the Post, it is a much greater menace given how far the reach is of the institutions that engage in it.”
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