Establishment journalists claim that the Trump era has produced a “golden age” of journalism, but media coverage in 2017 was plagued with errors and “bombshells” that turned out to be anything but.
CNN Twists Innocent Don Jr. Email Into A Scandal
CNN botched a major story in December when they alleged that Donald Trump Jr. was colluding with Wikileaks over stolen documents. CNN reported that a man named Mike Erickson emailed Trump Jr. on Sept. 4, 2016 with a link to Wikileaks documents and the decryption key needed to access them. The network hyped the story as a major development in the Russia investigation.
However, a copy of the email given to The Daily Caller showed that it was actually sent on Sept. 14, 2016, after the stolen documents had already been leaked to the general public. Furthermore, Erickson has no apparent ties to Wikileaks or Russia. The Washington Post identified him as the president of an aviation management company.
To this day, CNN has yet to explain how two different anonymous sources fed the network the wrong date.
New York Times’ ‘Almost Entirely Wrong’ Russia Report
The New York Times had to “look into” its own fake news when former FBI director James Comey questioned its reporting. The NYT claimed that U.S. intelligence officials intercepted communications between the Trump campaign and senior Russian intelligence officials in the year leading up to the election. Comey called the reporting “almost entirely wrong” and warned media outlets about relying on sources who don’t have a full understanding of “what’s going on.”
CNN’s Pathetic Putin Prediction
In the week leading up to the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany in July, CNN anchors reported that President Trump would not be confronting Russian President Vladimir Putin about his country’s meddling in American elections. The CNN report — which relied on a single, anonymous source — turned out to be dead wrong.
ABC’s Flynn Misreporting Causes Drop In Stock Market
An ABC News reporting error resulted in a stock market panic and the suspension of reporter Brian Ross earlier this month. Ross reported that former national security adviser Mike Flynn was prepared to testify that candidate Trump ordered him to make contact with the Russians.
Hours later, ABC clarified that Flynn wasn’t asked to contact Russia until after the election, during the Trump team’s transition period. The story quickly fizzled from Trump-Russia collusion to standard preparation for an incoming presidential administration.
The Mooch Gets An Apology From CNN
Three CNN employees resigned over a poorly-sourced story on the Trump transition team in June. Relying on a single, unnamed congressional source, CNN claimed that Trump adviser Anthony Scaramucci was under investigation over a meeting with a Russian banker that took place shortly before Trump’s inauguration. CNN retracted the story and apologized to Scaramucci after multiple parts of the report were proven to be inaccurate. (RELATED: 7 Times CNN Botched The News In 2017)
Bloomberg Botches Its Deutsche Bank Scoop
Bloomberg News was forced to correct a bombshell report in December that claimed Special Counsel Robert Mueller had subpoenaed Deutsche Bank records related to President Trump and his family. The story claimed that Mueller had “zeroed in” on Trump. Bloomberg later corrected the report, noting that the bank records “pertain to people affiliated” with Trump, not the president himself.
CNN Quietly Walks Back Sessions ‘Scandal’
CNN broke another flawed bombshell in May. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, while applying for his security clearance, had failed to disclose two meetings with then-Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak. CNN described the story as “the latest example of Sessions failing to disclose contacts he had with Russian officials.”
CNN quietly walked back the scoop seven months later, noting that the FBI specifically told Sessions he wasn’t required to disclose the meetings. In other words: CNN’s report excoriated Sessions for simply following protocol.
Republicans Did (NOT) Fund The Dossier
Journalists at multiple outlets, specifically CNN, consistently pushed the false claim that Republican donors had originally funded the infamous Trump-Russia dossier. Republican donor Paul Singer funded the firm behind the dossier, Fusion GPS, to conduct opposition research on candidates including Trump during the GOP primary. However, Singer had no involvement in the dossier, which has played a central role in the Trump-Russia narrative.
Comey Testimony Undermines CNN Reporting
As former FBI Director James Comey geared up for a congressional testimony in June, CNN found the perfect opportunity to make some bold — but incorrect — predictions. CNN reported that Comey would testify that he did not tell Trump he was the subject of an investigation, as it would be improper for him to do so. CNN was proven drastically wrong when Comey released his prepared testimony, complete with the confirmation that he assured the president that he was not under FBI investigation.
Media Outlets Push ’17 Intel Agencies’ Lie
A number of media outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, ABC News, and the Associated Press spent the year perpetuating a false claim Hillary Clinton made during the 2016 presidential debates. Each outlet incorrectly reported that “all 17 intelligence agencies” agreed that Russia meddled in the election.
The truth is only four intelligence agencies evaluated and made judgments about Russian interference because the rest, like the Department of Energy and the Drug Enforcement Agency, have little authority on the matter.
NBC’s Nothingburger About Manafort’s Notes
NBC News published what the network hyped as a “potential bombshell” in September. Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s notes from the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer contained the word “donations” near a reference to the Republican National Committee, the network reported.
NBC began walking back the anonymously sourced story almost immediately, before a report in Politico debunked the “bombshell” altogether. Despite what NBC’s sources told the network, the word “donations” did not appear in Manafort’s notes, which weren’t considered to be damaging to the Trump team at all.
NYT Fear Mongers Over Publicly Available Climate Report
In August, The New York Times “obtained” and published a draft of the National Climate Assessment (NCA), quoting anonymous scientists who feared “the Trump administration could change or suppress the report.” There’s just one problem: despite the paper’s fear mongering, the draft report had already been publicly available for months.
Reports on ‘Fake News’ Are Actually Fake News
Reports about “fake news” on Twitter turned out to be fake news themselves. CNN reported that “fake news” was higher in swing states, citing a study from the Oxford Internet Institute. However, the researchers in the study never talked about “fake news,” but rather “junk news” that apparently comes from mainstream conservative outlets like the Washington Examiner.