Thoughts on ‘Sources Say’

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This week the Washington Post acknowledged misrepresenting Donald Trump’s January phone conversation with Georgia election officials. The Post, along with other major TV networks, likely contributed to tipping the balance of power in Congress.

A recording released last week reveals an anonymous source used by the Post seriously misquoted Trump about election ballot issues.

Worse, other major media outlets reported they had confirmed what were fabricated quotes using their own anonymous sources.

• The Associated Press claimed a source that supposedly confirmed details of the conversation. They issued a minimalist correction this week.

USA Today claimed a “Georgia official speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters confirmed the details of the call.”

• NBC News claimed it confirmed the Post’s characterization thorough a source familiar with the call.

• ABC News even put quotes around a fabricated clause as if Trump had actually said it, claiming an individual familiar with the matter had confirmed it.

• PBS and CNN appeared to claim confirmation through their own anonymous sources. All of them “confirmed” what did not happen.

At least the Post revealed its lying source—Jordan Fuchs, Georgia Deputy Secretary of State. The other media have yet to reveal their “sources” — or admit they made them up.

But worst of all, Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State knew the Post got the story wrong but remained silent, possibly throwing Georgia Senate elections and control of Congress awry.

The Post continues to compound the error. Nowhere in the correction did the Post say, “We were wrong.” Nowhere did it compliment Trump’s push for election integrity. Nowhere do the Post’s editors recall that Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi referenced their reporting of Trump’s Georgia telephone call in her second failed attempt to impeach Trump. Nowhere do they face up to the damage they did to Trump, the election process, our government, the country as a whole, and journalism in general.

The pattern of news/source collaboration and its occurrence across multiple outlets has a nasty habit of repeating. In previous instances the media could disavow the Russia hoax fed to them by the FBI. They continue to repeat the Charlottesville “very fine people” hoax where both politicians and the media persistently left out the second part of what was said. Democratic committee chairman Adam Schiff used the same tactic when he fabricated without penalty the Ukraine call text he used to lead off House Democrats’ first impeachment attempt and also featured the second hand accusations of Col. Vindman that poisoned the first impeachment.

It stinks. It’s partisan. It’s mendacious. It infects major media, government agencies, and social media. And by a long shot it is not over.

“Sources Say” is a complex issue. CBS News Tuesday reported, “Sources tell CBS News more than 13,000 migrant children who entered the country without their parents are now in U.S. custody” calling it a “humanitarian crisis.” Which sources should one believe? At least this fact can be checked.

The point is, you have darned few people looking after your political welfare—not the national media and not the professional politicians. Your political independence is yours to lose, very quickly and permanently, if you do not pay close attention.

—S.B.Waters

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