Accuracy in Media

Not surprisingly, James Comey’s memoir trashing President Trump has been leaked.

Due to be released next week, the book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” already has been written about extensively in major media outlets.

The Post’s Philip Rucker gave it two thumbs up in a news story on the book that appeared on the website on Friday.

Rucker deals casually with statements by Comey that seem now to have been less than true. He opens with a vignette about a meeting between Comey and the president shortly before Trump took office.

“The January 2017 conversation at Trump Tower in Manhattan ‘teetered toward disaster’ – until ‘I pulled the tool from my bag: ‘We are not investigating you, sir.’ That seemed to quiet him,” Rucker writes, quoting from the book.

We now know the FBI was investigating Trump and his associates from at least early 2016.

Later, Rucker states: “Comey writes that Trump asked him to have the FBI investigate the allegations to prove they were not true and offered varying explanations to convince him why. ‘I’m a germaphobe,’ Trump told him in a follow-up call on Jan. 11, 2017, according to Comey’s account.

‘There’s no way I would let people pee on each other around me. No way.’ Later, the president asked what could be done to ‘lift the cloud’ because it was so painful for first lady Melania Trump.”

But saying he is a germaphobe is not a varying explanation of why the president asked Comey to disprove the allegation. His explanation is straightforward – he didn’t do this, and he’s tired of his wife hearing that he did.

Then, two paragraphs later, Rucker notes that Comey “paints a devastating portrait of a president who built ‘a cocoon of alternative reality that he was busily wrapping around all of us.’ Comey describes Trump as a congenital liar and unethical leader, devoid of human emotion and driven by personal ego.”

Concern for his wife in one paragraph; then unethical, devoid of human emotion soon thereafter.

Rucker later misleads on Comey’s comments on whether Trump violated the law by asking him to go easy on then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn or by firing him as FBI director.

“Comey stops short of outlining a legal case against the president, explaining that because he does not know all the evidence he cannot determine whether Trump intended to obstruct justice by firing him and by asking him to back off the FBI’s investigation of Flynn,” Rucker writes.

“’I have one perspective on the behavior I saw, which while disturbing and violating basic norms of ethical leadership, may fall short of being illegal,’” he quotes Comey as writing.

Even when Comey, Peter Strzok, the FBI agent demoted for his Trump-hating emails or Mueller himself say Trump has not been implicated in any crimes, the media in general – and the Post in particular – refuse to acknowledge it.

Rucker then returns to a familiar theme for him – that Trump is a bully getting his just comeuppance. He mentions that Comey says in the book he was bullied as a child in New Jersey and that Comey “ruminates on the psychology of liars in an apparent nod to the current occupant of the Oval Office.”

“Still,” he writes, “the book is an indictment of Trump’s presidency as well as of his character. Each chapter can be interpreted as an elaborate trolling of Trump, starting with the title, ‘A Higher Loyalty,’ a subtle reference to the pledge that Trump sought and did not receive from Comey.”

There are other ways to read the book as well – as a vapid attack on a sitting president by a disgruntled former employee. But the Post did not offer that.

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