Mainstream media fails to address bogus info used in Trump-Russia coverage
After the primary source of the Trump-Russia dossier was charged with lying to the FBI, mainstream news outlets have largely failed to address 2017 coverage that utilized the bogus intel.
Sara Fischer, the media columnist for Axios, called it “one of the most egregious journalistic errors in modern history, and the media’s response to its own mistakes has so far been tepid.” Axios never published the dossier or reports based on its contents.
“Outsized coverage of the unvetted document drove a media frenzy at the start of Donald Trump’s presidency that helped drive a narrative of collusion between former President Trump and Russia,” Fischer wrote.
WaPo corrects and removes large portions of two articles
Following British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s arrest, The Washington Post corrected and removed large portions of two articles. For his part, Post media critic Erik Wemple has written extensively on the handling of the dossier by the outlet and other publications.
BuzzFeed doubles down
In 2017, BuzzFeed News published the document in its entirety, and the outlet says it has no plans to remove it. The dossier is still accessible on their website, with a note reading, “The allegations are unverified, and the report contains errors.”
“My view on the logic of publishing hasn’t changed,” Ben Smith, editor-of-chief of BuzzFeed at the time and current media columnist for The New York Times, told Axios.
The outlet previously defended its decision, successfully arguing in a 2018 lawsuit that because the FBI opened an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, the dossier itself was newsworthy, whether the intel was authentic or not.
CNN, MSNBC, and others fail to act
Axios asked CNN and MSNBC if they planned to address the coverage on the dossier, but neither outlet responded.
Last week, Wemple sharply rebuked CNN for failing to retract its claim that the Steele dossier is “corroborated.” Wemple noted that network hosts including Wolf Blitzer and Don Lemon repeatedly claimed on-air that CNN had verified or corroborated substantial portions of the document.
“That brand of asymmetry helps explain why many people mistrust CNN,” he wrote.
Wemple asked Mother Jones Washington bureau chief David Corn if he planned to make corrections. “My priority has been to deal with the much larger topic of Russia’s undisputed attack and Trump’s undisputed collaboration with Moscow’s cover-up,” Corn said.
The Wall Street Journal said they’re aware of the serious questions raised by the allegations” and assured Axios that it will “continue to report and to follow the investigation closely.”