How Do Big Media Outlets So Often “Independently Confirm” Each Other’s Falsehoods?
The Washington Post’s media-spread error about Trump’s Georgia call shows the deceitful playbook first invented to undermine Trump and promote Russiagate.
All of this prompted the obvious question: how could MSNBC and CBS News have both purported to “independently confirm” a CNN bombshell that was completely false? The reason this matters is because the term “independently confirm” significantly bolsters the credibility of the initial report because it makes it appear that other credible-to-some news organizations have conducted their own investigation and found more evidence that proves it is true. That is the purpose of the exercise: to bolster the credibility of the story in the minds of the public.
But what actually happens is as deceitful as it is obvious. When a news outlet such as NBC Newsclaims to have “independently corroborated” a report from another corporate outlet, they often do not mean that they searched for and acquired corroborating evidence for it. What they mean is much more tawdry: they called, or were called by, the same anonymous sources that fed CNN the false story in the first place, and were fed the same false story. And just as CNN did — repeated what they were told (almost certainly by Democratic Congressional members and/or their staff) without independently investigating it, because they knew any anti-Trump story would please their partisan audience — NBC News pretended they had obtained “independent confirmation” when all they had done was speak to the same sources that fed CNN.
This episode is so worth recalling not only because it is one of the most stunning and pathetic media humiliations of the Trump era — though it is that — but also because the shoddy tactic that drove it is still in full use by the same media outlets. We just saw proof of that again with a major Washington Post “correction” — which should be called a retraction — of one of the most-discussed news stories of the last six months: the Post’s claims about what Trump said when he called a Georgia election official while he was still contesting the 2020 election results.
On January 9, The Washington Post published a story reporting that an anonymous source claimed that on December 23, Trump spoke by phone with Frances Watson, the chief investigator of the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, and directed her that she must “find the fraud” and promised her she would be “a national hero” if she did so. The paper insisted that those were actual quotes of what Trump said. This time, it was CNNpurporting to independently confirm the Post’s reporting, affirming that Trump said these words “according to a source with knowledge of the call.”
But late last week, The Wall Street Journal obtaineda recording of that call, and those quotes attributed to Trump do not appear. As a result, The Washington Post — two months after its original story that predictably spread like wildfire throughout the entire media ecosystem — has appended a correction at the top of its original story. Politico’s Alex Thompson correctly pronounced these errors “real bad” because of how widely they spread and were endorsed by other major media outlets.”
A few tweets from Glen about his piece…
For those who harbor reverence for US Govt pronouncements, the only time it commented on the Hunter laptop was when DNI said there was no evidence Russia was involved. That claim came from Brennan-led ex-CIA agents & was laundered by gullible US media:https://t.co/9QdJTnIOAz— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 16, 2021
Good to see this – but look at the first tweet with the false claim about Russia's involvement and see how widespread it is, and that guy has no incentive to delete it because the benefits of the re-tweets and increased followers are too sweet:https://t.co/OgdE0riIbX— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 16, 2021
Even this guy's walkbacks and concessions are false. He can't admit he just made this up. He did. Usually they rely on the fact that reports like this are very long & people with other jobs don't have time to read them. This one is short: take a look to see how casually they lie. pic.twitter.com/oHY1GBvc9L— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 16, 2021
This is why the biggest fucking scam in media right now are the "disinformation units" of NBC, CNN & NYT. Here's one of their stars who bravely tattles on 4Chan teenagers endorsing and spreading a blatant lie about an issue that actually matters, that everyone now sees is false. pic.twitter.com/YlNZ3SQDwr— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 16, 2021
As I wrote today, and I think it's the key truth of US media: "the sectors of the media pretending to be most distraught about “disinformation are, in fact, the most aggressive, prolific and destructive disseminators of that disinformation by far." https://t.co/pUNdIpo8eo— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 16, 2021
If you think the real power centers in the US are the Proud Boys, 4Chan & Boogaloos rather than the CIA, FBI, NSA, Wall Street and Silicon Valley, and spend most of your time battling the former while serving the latter as stenographers, your journalism is definitionally shit.— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 16, 2021