Progressive writer Aaron Maté earlier this week slammed the media’s coverage of the debunked allegations that former President Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with the Russian government to win the 2016 election, calling the reporting “broadly misleading journalism.”
In a report published Wednesday by RealClearInvestigations, Maté detailed the corrections a number of media outlets were forced to make following the indictment of the Steele dossier’s main source, Igor Danchenko, for allegedly lying to the FBI, and listed five instances of “stories containing false or misleading claims” that he said needed to be either retracted or corrected.
“Five years after the Hillary Clinton campaign-funded collection of Trump-Russia conspiracy theories known as the Steele dossier was published by BuzzFeed, news outlets that amplified its false allegations have suffered major losses of credibility. The recent indictment of the dossier’s main source … has catalyzed a new reckoning,” Maté wrote.
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He noted that The Washington Post re-edited “at least a dozen stories” relating to former British intelligence operative Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier, and that for two of them, entire sections had to be removed, headlines changed and editor’s notes added.
“But the Post’s response also exhibits the limits of the media’s Steele-induced self-examination,” Maté wrote, noting that neither the reporters nor editors of the two most egregious reports offered an explanation as to how they were “so egregiously misled,” or who the sources were that mislead them for months and years.
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“Perhaps more important, the Post, like other publications, has so far limited its Russiagate reckoning to work directly involving Steele – and only after a federal indictment forced its hand,” he added. “But the Steele dossier has been widely discredited since at least April 2019, when Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller and his team of prosecutors and FBI agents were unable to find evidence in support of any of its claims.”
Maté stated that the Steele dossier was only one aspect of the misinformation surrounding the collusion allegations that were fed to the public, arguing that the “most prominent news outlets” furthered its collusion narrative of conspiracy and a compromised White House under Trump. He added that some of these outlets received a Pulitzer Prize for reporting that had been made clear by public record to “include falsehoods and distortions requiring significant corrections.”
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Maté then listed five instances of “stories containing false or misleading claims” and called on them to be either corrected or retracted, including debunked reporting that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn lied to the FBI about discussing the removal of Russian sanctions with a Russian official, that former Trump campaign officials were in contact with Russian intelligence officials, and that former Trump campaign volunteer George Papadopoulos told an Australian diplomat that Russia had “political dirt on Hillary Clinton,” including “thousands of emails.”
He also listed discredited and unproven claims that Russia launched an interference campaign on social media and that the Justice Department interfered in the Russia investigation when Special Counsel Robert Mueller ended the investigation without charging Trump or any of his associates with any crime.
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“For a media establishment that had spent years promoting a Trump-Russia collusion narrative and sidelining countervailing facts, that was indeed a tough outcome to fathom,” Maté wrote. “But it’s no time for excuses or false claims of vindication: The tepid accounting spurred by the Steele dossier’s collapse should be just the start of a far more exhaustive reckoning.”
“Broadly misleading journalism that plunged an American presidency into turmoil demands much more than piecemeal corrections,” he stressed.