A bad week for the media

It's been a week to forget for the national media.  Besides the usual partisan, biased, and hysterically exaggerated reporting, there were some major errors of basic facts that led to one reporter being suspended without pay and four other media organizations being forced to issue embarrassing and sheepish corrections. 

We covered the latest media misstep here – a CNN "bombshell" report that turned out to be a nothingburger.  And there were several other careless errors that led to cries of "fake news" across the internet.

Vox:

In today's hyperpolarized world, "fake news" has become a refrain to describe stories that observers on both sides of the spectrum decide that they don't like. These reporting issues by esteemed media organizations give credence to that ignorance, which further damages the value of insightful, impactful reporting – especially when it comes to one of the biggest, most polarizing stories of our political age: the Russia probe.

  1. Flynn's testimonyLast Friday, ABC News reported that former national security advisor Michael Flynn was prepared to testify that President Trump, while still a candidate, directed him to contact Russian officials. But later in the day, the network issued a "clarification" that the direction came when Trump was president-elect. That changed the impact of the story entirely as it's a common occurrence for presidential transition teams to reach out to foreign governments.
  2. Deutsche Bank subpoenaReuters and Bloomberg both reported on Tuesday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation had subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for information on accounts relating to President Trump and his family members – seemingly confirming that Mueller had expanded his probe to investigate the president's financial dealings. The WSJ defused that bombshell in a follow-up report stating that the subpoenas actually dealt with "people or entities close to Mr. Trump."
  3. WikiLeaks emailsCNN reported this morning that senior Trump campaign officials, including Trump himself, received an email from an unknown sender on September 4, 2016 that linked them to what could have been unreleased WikiLeaks documents. WaPo issued their own report later in the afternoon that the email was actually sent on September 14 – and linked to a trove of documents that WikiLeaks had publicly released a day earlier.

And that's just reporting on the Russia probe.  Fox News had its own brush with fake news:

Beverly Young Nelson has accused the Repub      lican Senate nominee of sexually assaulting her nearly 40 years ago when she was 16 years old. 

She told Tom Llamas, of ABC News, in a Friday interview that she made notes underneath Moore's entry. 

"Beverly, he signed your yearbook?" Llamas asked.  

"He did sign it," Nelson replied.

"And you made some notes underneath?" Llamas followed.

"Yes," she confirmed. 

A since-deleted tweet on the official Fox News twitter account had read, "BREAKING NEWS: Roy Moore accuser admits she forged part of yearbook inscription attributed to Alabama senate candidate."

Fox News has since updated the story with a note at the bottom of the piece while removing any references to "forgery" in it. 

"An update to this story reflects that Beverly Young Nelson admits writing what ABC News characterized as 'notes' beneath what she says is Roy Moore's signature, and that the only notes below the signature are the date and location.

"Furthermore, the headline on [the] story now specifies that Nelson admits to writing part of the inscription herself, rather than forging part of it."

Adding the date and location below pervert Moore's creepy inscription and signature is not "forging" anything.  But Moore is desperate to discredit Nelson, who has accused the former DA of sexual assault.

An update to the Fox story reflected that:

An update to this story reflects that Beverly Young Nelson admits writing what ABC News characterized as "notes" beneath what she says is Roy Moore's signature, and that the only notes below the signature are the date and location. Furthermore, the headline on story now specifies that Nelson admits to writing part of the inscription herself, rather than forging part of it.

Regardless of what Moore wrote or what Nelson wrote, there is the fundamental question: why is a 30-something man writing anything in a teenage girl's yearbook?  Creepy.

We live in a media age where "facts" no longer drive the story, but rather the story drives the "facts."  Reporters pick and choose which "facts" fit their narrative, and if they don't conform to their bias, they are conveniently left out or, in the cases above, altered.  Former senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, "You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts."

That's a lesson that should be hammered into the consciousness of contemporary "journalists."

It's been a week to forget for the national media.  Besides the usual partisan, biased, and hysterically exaggerated reporting, there were some major errors of basic facts that led to one reporter being suspended without pay and four other media organizations being forced to issue embarrassing and sheepish corrections. 

We covered the latest media misstep here – a CNN "bombshell" report that turned out to be a nothingburger.  And there were several other careless errors that led to cries of "fake news" across the internet.

Vox:

In today's hyperpolarized world, "fake news" has become a refrain to describe stories that observers on both sides of the spectrum decide that they don't like. These reporting issues by esteemed media organizations give credence to that ignorance, which further damages the value of insightful, impactful reporting – especially when it comes to one of the biggest, most polarizing stories of our political age: the Russia probe.

  1. Flynn's testimonyLast Friday, ABC News reported that former national security advisor Michael Flynn was prepared to testify that President Trump, while still a candidate, directed him to contact Russian officials. But later in the day, the network issued a "clarification" that the direction came when Trump was president-elect. That changed the impact of the story entirely as it's a common occurrence for presidential transition teams to reach out to foreign governments.
  2. Deutsche Bank subpoenaReuters and Bloomberg both reported on Tuesday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation had subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for information on accounts relating to President Trump and his family members – seemingly confirming that Mueller had expanded his probe to investigate the president's financial dealings. The WSJ defused that bombshell in a follow-up report stating that the subpoenas actually dealt with "people or entities close to Mr. Trump."
  3. WikiLeaks emailsCNN reported this morning that senior Trump campaign officials, including Trump himself, received an email from an unknown sender on September 4, 2016 that linked them to what could have been unreleased WikiLeaks documents. WaPo issued their own report later in the afternoon that the email was actually sent on September 14 – and linked to a trove of documents that WikiLeaks had publicly released a day earlier.

And that's just reporting on the Russia probe.  Fox News had its own brush with fake news:

Beverly Young Nelson has accused the Repub      lican Senate nominee of sexually assaulting her nearly 40 years ago when she was 16 years old. 

She told Tom Llamas, of ABC News, in a Friday interview that she made notes underneath Moore's entry. 

"Beverly, he signed your yearbook?" Llamas asked.  

"He did sign it," Nelson replied.

"And you made some notes underneath?" Llamas followed.

"Yes," she confirmed. 

A since-deleted tweet on the official Fox News twitter account had read, "BREAKING NEWS: Roy Moore accuser admits she forged part of yearbook inscription attributed to Alabama senate candidate."

Fox News has since updated the story with a note at the bottom of the piece while removing any references to "forgery" in it. 

"An update to this story reflects that Beverly Young Nelson admits writing what ABC News characterized as 'notes' beneath what she says is Roy Moore's signature, and that the only notes below the signature are the date and location.

"Furthermore, the headline on [the] story now specifies that Nelson admits to writing part of the inscription herself, rather than forging part of it."

Adding the date and location below pervert Moore's creepy inscription and signature is not "forging" anything.  But Moore is desperate to discredit Nelson, who has accused the former DA of sexual assault.

An update to the Fox story reflected that:

An update to this story reflects that Beverly Young Nelson admits writing what ABC News characterized as "notes" beneath what she says is Roy Moore's signature, and that the only notes below the signature are the date and location. Furthermore, the headline on story now specifies that Nelson admits to writing part of the inscription herself, rather than forging part of it.

Regardless of what Moore wrote or what Nelson wrote, there is the fundamental question: why is a 30-something man writing anything in a teenage girl's yearbook?  Creepy.

We live in a media age where "facts" no longer drive the story, but rather the story drives the "facts."  Reporters pick and choose which "facts" fit their narrative, and if they don't conform to their bias, they are conveniently left out or, in the cases above, altered.  Former senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, "You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts."

That's a lesson that should be hammered into the consciousness of contemporary "journalists."

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