Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept has begun to notice how the mainstream media handles the truth — and the problem at the root of conservatives’ complaints.
In a piece late last week, Greenwald, who famously published the Edward Snowden documents on domestic spying in the US and UK, ripped CNN for continuing to refuse to admit it misled readers in reporting about Michael Cohen, former personal attorney to President Trump.
CNN reported – and was followed by many in the mainstream media – that Cohen was prepared to tell Special Counsel Robert Mueller the president knew in advance of the Trump Tower meeting in which Donald Trump Jr. was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. Its source, longtime Clinton family ally Lanny Davis, later admitted Cohen did not know whether Trump knew about the meeting.
The Washington Post and New York Post retracted their stories and admitted they were based on untruthful comments form Davis. CNN has refused, saying only that it stands behind its story “and are confident in our reporting of it.”
Greenwald criticized CNN not only for not admitting its error, but for having Davis on the with Anderson Cooper to say he was not the source for the story and, as the story stated, had refused to comment.
“How can CNN possibly justify refusing to address these questions and refrain from informing the pubic about these critical matters on a story that they themselves hyped for days as a ‘blockbuster,’ one of the most significant stories yet in the Trump/Russia saga?” Greenwald asked.
He also complained about how the media fend off such attacks – they call it ‘media criticism,’ he says, as opposed to the “‘real reporting’ they do.” “This term is self-serving nonsense from media outlets, seeking to render their own behavior off-limits from journalistic scrutiny.”
He further explained media criticism – “when juxtaposed with the term ‘real reporting’ (by which mainstream journalists usually mean: ‘giving official sources anonymity, writing down what they say, and then uncritically repeating it to the public’) – is intended to discredit those who expose the bad and deceitful acts of media outlets and to imply that doing so is trivial or worthless.”
Then, when caught reporting falsehoods, the media talks of “good faith and rare mistakes” and paints those who report on them as “exaggerating their significance,” Greenwald wrote.
But “[T]his tactic is also itself highly deceitful. The reality is that from the start of the Trump/Russia story, the U.S. media has repeatedly and frequently – not rarely and periodically – gotten major stories completely wrong, always in the same direction: exaggerating the threat posed by Russia to the U.S., and concocting evidence of Trump/Russia collusion even when such evidence did not exist.”
As examples, he cited CNN’s claim late last year that Don Jr. had received access to the Wikileaks email archive before it was published, when in fact it came after. “In that case, it seems that CNN and MSNBC’s sources somehow all got the date of the email wrong in exactly the same way by accident, though nobody knows how this could possibly have happened because then – as now – these media outlets refuse to come clean with the public about what they did.”
He then cites a list he’s assembled of false stories. Russia hacking the U.S. grid, and US political sites being Kremlin agents from the Washington Post. The secret server in Trump Tower that connected directly to a Russian bank, by Slate. RT hacking C-SPAN by Fortune. Anthony Scaramucci’s alleged contacts with Russians, which got three CNN employees fired.
“Whatever words one wishes to use to defend the U.S. media’s conduct here, ‘rare’ and ‘isolated’ are not among those that can be credibly invoked,” Greenwald wrote. “Far more accurate are ‘chronic,’ ‘systematic’ and ‘reckless.’
“And when it comes to discrediting journalism in the U.S, thousands of mean Donald Trump tweets about Chuck Todd and Wolf Blitzer can’t accomplish even a fraction of what this media behavior has done to themselves, particularly when their behavior is followed by secrecy and refusals to comment so brazen and unjustified that it would make even security state spokespeople blush with shame.”