Of course they do.
The “blockbuster” smoking gun story posted by The Guardian earlier this week was widely cited as proof the President’s campaign was directly involved with Wikileaks and therefore indirectly coordinating with Russia to release damaging emails hacked from the DNC and John Podesta during the 2016 election.
Just about every major news outlet jumped on the story. MSNBC called it a “collusion bombshell.” The Week called it “a disaster for Trump.” Rolling Stone said Manafort’s story is “unraveling before our eyes.”
It was a classic knee-jerk reaction by mainstream media to anything negative about President Trump. There were enough inconsistencies and concerns in the original story to make the lucid in media instantly question it, but the unhinged elements jumped on it like a pack of lions stumbling across an injured gazelle.
As the Washington Times reported, certain things simply didn’t match up.
The liberal Guardian newspaper on Tuesday claimed that Manafort in 2013, 2015 and the spring of 2016 met with Mr. Assange, WikiLeaks chief, in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The story sited “sources.”
WikiLeaks immediately denounced The Guardian story as a hoax and said it planned to raise money to file a libel suit. Manafort, who was convicted of multiple charges including tax evasion and is in jail, also emphatically denied the story.
Once the facts about the story started getting questioned, everything started falling apart. Passport stamps didn’t match. Manafort’s name wasn’t on the embassy visitors’ log. Anonymous sources evaporated. Both Manafort and Wikileaks started talking about libel suits, a step that few actually take if a story is not demonstrably false. Perhaps most telling is that Robert Mueller’s team didn’t jump on it immediately. This would have been the smoking gun they seek, yet they seemed to understand from the beginning that it was a red herring.
But the media is less scrupulous in their pursuits, as Mollie Hemingway noted at The Federalist:
Even on first read the story seemed difficult to believe. It was based on anonymous sources so non-descript that they could be any of literally millions of people. A document from Ecuador’s Senain intelligence agency allegedly claimed a “Manaford” had visited Assange along with “Russians.” The story mentioned the discredited dossier that journalists wrote about and intelligence agencies used to secure wiretaps on Trump associates despite the failure to verify its claims.
Since the visitor logs for the Ecuador embassy are public and show no mentions of Manafort, the story had to come up with a convenient excuse for why he was missing from the logs. They went with “Sources in Ecuador, however, say Manafort was not logged.” Okay, then.
The best move at this point would be to tuck tail and seek another story that gets eyeballs and attacks President Trump. That’s what most outlets did. They pretended like the story never happened and for the last two days simply stopped mentioning the smoking gun they thought would surely take down the President.
But some took it a step further. Instead of acknowledging the report was simply falsified, they started looking for answers why anyone would do that. The obvious answer – to attack the President – seemed a bit far-fetched to many left-wing outlets. They couldn’t imagine their progressive media colleagues making something up, so there must have been a better explanation.
That’s when the next level of unhinged reporting started popping up. Who could they blame for the false story? Yep, President Trump. Or Russia. Or both.
By their thinking, this must have been a story faked for the sake of making the President look bad at first only to have him vindicated a day later. Ya, that’s the ticket!
Politico first floated the new conspiracy theory two days ago and other outlets have been running with it ever since.
A number of parties in the Trump-Russia circus have an interest in discrediting the media. Russian President Vladimir Putin has solidified his power in Russia by systematically quashing the free press and controlling the message through friendly media outlets, including the likes of RT and Sputnik. Trump, too, has consistently shouted “Fake News!” at any story he doesn’t like and has made it a theme of late to refer to the media as “the enemy of the people,” a term that has been used by dictators throughout time, including to devastating effect by Joseph Stalin.
They ran with a story to discredit the President. When the story turned out to be false, they didn’t retract. They redirected. Now they say the President and Russia must have planted the story to make the press look bad. Mainstream media is ludicrous.