Accuracy in Media

Adam Schiff didn’t lie when he made up the dialogue of a call between President Donald Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, but he did “make it easy for viewers to get confused,” wrote Daniel Dale of CNN in a piece in which he attempted to fact-check the remarks of the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Schiff, a Democrat from California, opened a hearing of the committee last Thursday by reading what he indicated was a transcript of Trump’s conversation with Zelensky. Observers quickly noticed Schiff had drifted far off the script to paint Trump as a mob boss shaking down an underling rather than a president urging another president to get to the bottom of wrongdoing in his country that has impact on politics in America.

Trump responded with a tweet that read: “Rep. Adam Schiff fraudulently read to Congress, with millions of people watching, a version of my conversation with the President of Ukraine that doesn’t exist. He was supposedly reading the exact transcribed version of the call, but he completely changed the words to make it sound horrible, and me sound guilty. HE WAS DESPERATE AND HE GOT CAUGHT.”

The following tweet read: “Adam Schiff therefore lied to Congress and attempted to defraud the American public. He has been doing this for two years. I am calling for him to immediately resign from Congress based on this fraud!”

Dale wrote that he thought the president went a little too far. “We can’t endorse Trump’s claim that Schiff ‘lied’ since Schiff introduced his comments at Thursday’s hearings by saying he would be outlining ‘the essence of what the president communicates,’ not providing ‘the exact transcribed version of the call.’ And it is important to note that we do not even have an ‘exact transcribed version’ of the call – the rough transcript released by the White House cautions explicitly that it is ‘not a verbatim transcript.’”

That’s when Dale admitted that “Still, Schiff’s remarks did make it easy for viewers to get confused. He did not make clear which words he was taking directly from Trump’s comments in the rough transcript, which words were his own analysis, and which words were meant to be the comedic ‘parody’ he later said he was intending.”

Dale then attempts to break down Schiff’s remarks and assess their veracity. To Schiff saying, “And what is the president’s response? Well, it just reads like a classic organized crime shakedown,” Dale says, “This is a subjective matter of opinion.”

But Schiff is then quoted as saying: “Shorn of its rambling character and in not so many words, this is the essence of what the president communicates. We’ve been very good to your country. Very good. No other country has done as much as we have. But you know what? I don’t see much reciprocity here.”

Dale’s “analysis” reads: “Schiff shifted here from his own voice to the voice of Trump. But this is a roughly accurate summary of what Trump said, though Schiff used slightly different words.”

Trump’s “slightly different words” were essentially him saying Europe must do more to help Ukraine. “I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine,” the president said. “We spent a lot of effort and a lot of time – much more than the European countries are doing and they should be helping you more than they are.” He then explicitly says “I wouldn’t say that it’s reciprocal … but the United States has been very good to Ukraine.”

Both Trump and Zelensky have said there was no quid pro quo and no pressure applied.

Dale then goes into the statement by Trump that Biden “went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … it sounds horrible to me.”

Dale says, “Trump himself was inaccurate here: Biden has not boasted about having ‘stopped the prosecution’ of a Ukrainian case in which his son Hunter Biden had an interest.”

Biden clearly did exactly that.

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