Accuracy in Media


President Trump’s decision to declassify documents related to the Russia investigation brought a raft of stories from the mainstream media warning about the dangers to “sources and methods,” but little about what the documents might reveal.

In many cases, the media outlet’s view of the president’s decision was made obvious in the headline.

“Donald Trump declassifies Russia investigation documents to back his ‘witch hunt’ claims,” wrote USA Today.

“President Trump just seriously escalated his effort to interfere with Mueller’s probe,” wrote Vox.

“Trump Intervenes in Mueller Probe, Ordering Release of Carter Page FISA Application, Comey Texts,” wrote HuffPost.

The New York Times’ headline read simply, “Trump Orders Russia Investigation Documents Be Declassified,” but the story by Adam Goldman set up the move as a dangerous confrontation between the president and the law enforcement officials who work for him.

Trump’s move was “the latest instance of the president siding with Republican allies on Capitol Hill over federal law enforcement.”

“For months, Mr. Trump and some of his most fervent congressional supporters have clamored for the material’s release against the protests of the intelligence and law enforcement communities,” the piece said.

“The move is all but certain to further deteriorate Mr. Trump’s relationship with law enforcement officials. As part of their months-long attacks on the Russia investigation, the president and his allies have accused law enforcement officials of improperly obtaining a secret warrant to wiretap the campaign adviser, Carter Page. Little evidence has emerged to back the Republicans’ assertions, and Democrats have accused them in return of politicizing a legitimate inquiry with major national security implications.”

“Much of the application was previously released in July, angering the intelligence community and members of the law enforcement who believed that the information should not have been made public and that its release set a dangerous precedent by making public secret methods of investigation.”

Former and current FBI officials are concerned this could “have long-lasting consequences, making it harder to recruit informants willing to help with investigations who are the lifeblood of law enforcement.”

The Washington Post also wrote about the confrontation with law enforcement, reporting in the lead of its story, “Trump orders Justice Dept. to declassify Russia-related material,” that Trump was “threatening to spur a showdown with federal law enforcement resistant to publicizing information from an ongoing probe.”

The move “significantly raises the stakes,” and the leaders of the Justice Department had “made clear there was a line they would not cross because making some materials public might put sources at risk or harm an ongoing investigation.” 

“Trump orders documents relating to Russia investigation, Carter Page FISA warrant declassified,” CNN wrote. The president’s order was “prompting new concerns about the increasing politicization of intelligence materials.”

The CNN piece implied the president may not get the bombshell he expects. House Republicans had called for declassifying documents “even though they are not sure whether the documents will help or hurt their arguments about alleged improper conduct in the probe.

“Their latest effort could backfire and upend the narrative House Republicans have spent months crafting, should the declassified documents confirm the FBI had more than the dossier to justify the surveillance of Page.”

It’s safe to say the president knows what the unredacted portions reveal.

Vox’s Andrew Prokop got right to it.

“President Trump just dramatically escalated his efforts to interfere with the Russia investigation,” his story began. Three paragraphs down, he wrote: “In other words, the president is demanding the release of an enormous amount of internal material, without redaction, about an ongoing investigation into his campaign and his associates.”




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