The media has made plenty of errors during the Trump administration, but some are so egregious that they deserve special attention.
Just this week, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell was forced to apologize after reporting a single-sourced story that claimed Russian oligarchs had co-signed loans for Trump’s business deals.
In order to hold the media accountable for their botched reporting, we’ve compiled a list of the ten biggest lies the media has told about President Donald Trump.
The Charlottesville Lie
After neo-Nazis and white supremacists clashed with Antifa and other left-wing demonstrators in Charlottesville, VA, in the summer of 2017, President Donald Trump gave a speech condemning people on both sides of the situation.
However, the media focused in on one phrase from Trump’s speech: “very fine people on both sides.”
However, they left out the key context from Trump’s speech that makes it quite clear what he was referring to.
“Excuse me, they didn’t put themselves down as neo-Nazis, and you had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides. . . . I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally – but you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, okay? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people, but you also had troublemakers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats – you had a lot of bad people in the other group too.”
When taken in the full context, the president was referring to people who are not neo-Nazis and white nationalists but still felt compelled to march against Charlottesville removing a statue of General Robert E. Lee. And, he specifically said that neo-Nazis and white nationalists “should be condemned totally.”
The president has continued to denounce these far-right groups throughout his presidency, but the lie about Charlottesville persists.
The MS-13 Lie
President Donald Trump referred to MS-13 — an El Salvadorian gang whose motto is “kill, rape, control” — as “animals” during an Oval Office meeting in May 2018.
The media quickly spun his comments, claiming that the president was referring to all illegal immigrants. The lie was bolstered by a selectively edited CSPAN clip that removed the context preceding the president’s comments.
When it became clear that Trump was talking about MS-13 and not illegal immigrants writ large, some journalists desperately tried to defend the “humanity” of gang members who rape little girls and chop people up into pieces.
In April 2019, the edited clip started making its way around social media again, with MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes retweeting the lie. (RELATED: Democrats, Media Fall For Old, Deceptively Edited Clip Of Trump On MS-13)
The Lester Holt Lie
During a May 2017 interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, Trump spoke about his decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey. In one particular ramble, the president talked about the Russia investigation and suggested that was his reason for canning Comey.
“But regardless of [the] recommendation, I was going to fire Comey. Knowing there was no good time to do it!
And in fact when I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said, “You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”
Media outlets used the excerpt as proof that the president had committed obstruction of justice by firing an FBI director in the hopes of stopping an investigation. However, the full interview reveals Trump talking about Comey being a “showboat,” about how Comey handled the Clinton investigation, and more.
As John Solomon wrote in The Hill, the president was clear that he wanted the Russia investigation to continue, and perhaps even expected it to drag out longer because of his firing Comey. The president was also acutely aware of the fact that opponents would view the move with suspicion.
“Look, let me tell you. As far as I’m concerned, I want that thing to be absolutely done properly …
When I did this now, I said I probably, maybe, will confuse people. Maybe I’ll expand that — you know, I’ll lengthen the time because it should be over with. It should — in my opinion, should’ve been over with a long time ago because it — all it is, is an excuse.
But I said to myself, I might even lengthen out the investigation. But I have to do the right thing for the American people.”
The Michael Flynn Lie
Former ABC reporter Brian Ross was singlehandedly responsible for one of the biggest lies the media has ever told about Trump, and was also behind a massive stock market dip due to his fake reporting.
Ross reported in late 2017 that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was prepared to testify that then-candidate Donald Trump ordered him to make contact with the Russians. The bombshell appeared to provide evidence that the Trump campaign was colluding with Russians to sway the election.
However, the single-sourced story soon fell apart. It turned out that Trump had not directed Flynn to contact Russia until after the election, which is normal activity from a presidential transition team.
Ross was suspended for the report and ABC issued a lengthy apology.
The Trump Tower Lie
CNN infamously reported in the summer of 2018 that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen told investigators that President Donald Trump had advanced knowledge of a Trump Tower meeting between his son and Russians.
The article bolstered claims that the president was lying about contact with the Russians.
However, Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, later admitted that he was a source for CNN’s story and that the reporting got “mixed up.” He insisted that his client had no information regarding Trump’s knowledge — or lack thereof — about the Trump Tower meeting. Cohen himself told Congress on multiple occasions that he did not have information about the matter.
The Kids In Cages Lie
The media, in an attempt to pin poor conditions at the southern U.S. border on Trump, began sharing photographs of migrant children in cages in 2018. Unfortunately for them, many of the photos were taken in 2014 — during the Obama administration.
Further research into the migrant crisis revealed that President Barack Obama was the first to separate families at the border because of restrictions from the Flores Agreement, and that the children in question were kept in less-than-stellar conditions. (RELATED: Here Are The Photos Of Obama’s Illegal Immigrant Detention Facilities The Media Won’t Show You)
Democrats and the media alike were forced to grapple with the fact that they did not call out the “inhumane” conditions under the Obama administration, and seemed to only care about the migrant children once Trump took office.
Despite numerous fact checks debunking the “kids in cages” lie, news outlets are still attaching 2014 detention facility photos on Trump-era policies.
The Deutsche Bank Lie
Trump did a lot of business with Deutsche Bank while a private citizen, and now the financial institution has become the heart of some of the biggest conspiracies regarding Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia.
MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, for example, reported just this week from a single anonymous source that Russians had co-signed business loans for Trump from Deutsche Bank. Trump’s lawyers threatened O’Donnell with a lawsuit for the unverified story, and he was forced to retract and apologize.
Deutsche Bank was also the source of a major Bloomberg “bombshell” that later turned out to be inaccurate. Bloomberg claimed in December 2017 that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had subpoenaed Deutsche Bank records relating to Trump and his family. Russian collusion conspiracy theorists thought for sure that the records would prove illegal business ties with Russia, but it was later revealed that no subpoena was ever issued for the records.
The Michael Cohen Lie
BuzzFeed News slapped Trump with a false story in January 2019 that lead to tons of media speculation about impeachment or indictment for President Trump. The story claimed that Michael Cohen was directed by Trump to lie to Congress about a potential business deal in Moscow, Russia.
“Impeachment” was mentioned nearly 200 times on CNN and MSNBC following the report.
In a rare move, however, the Special Counsel’s office made a public statement disputing the accuracy of the reporting.
“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” spokesman Peter Carr said in a statement.”
The Mueller report also specifically debunked the reporting, noting that Cohen explicitly said that the president never directed him to lie about the Moscow deal.
The Mexico Lie
Trump brought immigration to the forefront of the 2016 presidential election during his announcement speech in June 2015, however, one comment landed him in hot water with the media.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you,” Trump said. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
While the president was clearly not talking about all Mexicans when he talked specifically about illegal immigrants who commit crimes, the media quickly spun the comment in its favor.
The Collusion Lie
As Glenn Greenwald wrote for The Intercept after the release of the Mueller report, “Mueller’s examination of all the so-called ‘links; between Trump campaign officials and Russia that the U.S. media has spent almost three years depicting as ‘bombshell’ evidence of criminality met the same fate: the evidence could not, and did not, establish that any such links constituted ‘coordination’ or ‘conspiracy’ between Trump and Russia.”
Media outlets searched far and wide for evidence of collusion, constantly stringing the American people along and insisting that the “bombshell” that would bring Trump down was just around the next corner. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow spent two years of her primetime television show inspiring hope that the Trump presidency would soon be over.
However, the Mueller report indicated that the Special Counsel did not find evidence that the campaign colluded with Russia. Some in the media claim that the report findings do not matter because it “did not exonerate” the president. However, in America, people are innocent until proven guilty, and it is not the job our judicial system to “exonerate,” but to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
And because of that, collusion is case closed.