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Fake News Toilet Overflows

Dec. 10, 2017 (EIRNS)—The stunning rate at which "fake news" media are being forced to retract ostensibly damning anti-Trump stories is striking. On Dec. 8, Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel posted a photo of a largely empty arena in Florida, along with President Trump’s comment that he was speaking to a "packed house" at a Pensacola, Florida rally that evening. Weigel was forced to apologize after the President pointed out Saturday that the photograph had been taken before the rally started, when long lines of people were still waiting to get in.

There were worse lapses earlier on Friday, causing journalist Glenn Greenwald to write an article Saturday in The Intercept under the title "The U.S. Media Yesterday Suffered its Most Humiliating Debacle in Ages: Now Refuses All Transparency Over What Happened."

Greenwald begins,

"Friday was one of the most embarrassing days for the U.S. media in quite a long time. The humiliation orgy was kicked off by CNN, with MSNBC and CBS close behind, with countless pundits, commentators and operatives joining the party throughout the day. By the end of the day, it was clear that several of the nation’s largest and most influential news outlets had spread an explosive but completely false news story to millions of people, while refusing to provide any explanation of how it happened."

The story was that on Sept. 4, 2016, an unknown person had secretly offered the Trump campaign, and even Donald Trump himself, special access to the leaked DNC emails before they were published on the internet.

"As CNN sees the world, this would prove collusion between the Trump family and WikiLeaks and, more importantly, between Trump and Russia, since the U.S. intelligence community regards WikiLeaks as an ‘arm of Russian intelligence,’ and therefore, so does the U.S. media.

"It’s impossible to convey with words what a spectacularly devastating scoop CNN believed it had, so its necessary to watch it for yourself to see the tone of excitement, breathlessness and gravity the network conveyed as they clearly believed they were delivering a near-fatal blow on the Trump/Russia collusion story.

"There was just one small problem with this story: it was fundamentally false, in the most embarrassing way possible. Hours after CNN broadcast its story—and then hyped it over and over and over—the Washington Post reported that CNN got the key fact of the story wrong. The email was not dated Sept. 4, as CNN claimed, but rather Sept. 14—which means it was sent after WikiLeaks had already published access to the DNC emails online."

But in the meanwhile, before it was retracted, California Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu had sent out the original story, to be retweeted at least 7,000 times. Brookings’ Benjamin Wittes had tweeted it to his 200,000 followers, and Josh Marshall of "Talking Points Memo" had tweeted it to his 250,000 followers. Both MSNBC and CBS had claimed to have independently "confirmed" the story from their own sources, and had rebroadcast it themselves as a devastating blow against the President.

Greenwald demands that these networks display the accountability they demand from others. If they were all misled, apparently deliberately, by anonymous sources as they claim, then those lying sources have no more right to anonymity. The networks should name them—most probably, although not necessarily, Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee before whom Donald Trump, Jr., had just testified, or their senior staffers.