Accuracy in Media

Testy Copy Editors called it “Today’s ‘citizen journalism’ failure …” but the latest demonstration of reportorial incompetence by Louise Mensch and associates is more than that.

Mensch is the former conservative member of the UK parliament who sees it as her mission in life to become the Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of her generation and drive President Trump from office by uncovering scandal.

Her predictive powers rival those of Michael Mann and Al Gore – the global warming hucksters whose forecasts of no more winter, no more ice on the poles, no more Miami or New York or Hawaii have become national jokes.

And unlike Woodward and Bernstein, who did try to take the reporting seriously even as it served a partisan end, Mensch’s output amounts to a website and torrent of tweets of wild and unsourced articles designed, as Charles Cooke put it in National Review, to provide “hope and titillation to the illiterate and the credulous.”

She is obsessed with the Christopher Steele dossier of disinformation about Trump and continues to assert its accuracy even though it has been widely debunked. She is convinced Sean Hannity coordinates messaging for his radio and TV shows with Russian intelligence organizations, RT, Julian Assange and others and that the Federal Communications Commission will investigate this.

Since President Donald Trump took office, she has claimed, among other things, that Congress already has secretly stripped Trump of his powers and made Orrin Hatch president, Trump, his sons, Jared Kushner, Rex Tillerson and others all are on the cusp of indictment and Paul Manafort is prepared to “roll over” on Trump to save his own hide from Russia collusion prosecution.

The latest round of stories indeed indicate yet another ‘citizen journalism’ failure on the part of Mensch and her associate, Claude Taylor, who worked in the Clinton White House. The two spent much of the summer breathlessly tweeting details about criminal inquiries conducted by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Schneiderman, they said, was pursuing evidence Trump’s inactive fashion model agency functioned as a sex trafficking operation with the president’s knowledge. Earlier, they had claimed Schneidereman’s office had obtained “at least one preliminary sealed indictment in that case targeting multiple Trump Org principals.”

The same day, the two began tweeting about multiple inquiries under Schneiderman’s Organized Crime Task Force and financial crimes bureau, including some being pursued under the state’s version of the federal Racketeer Influenced Crime Organizations (RICO) Act, which goes after the conduct of criminal syndicates.

Then came even more salacious details about Trump and the modeling agency, which prompted Mensch to push the hashtag #PIMPOTUS – a play on “pimp” and the acronym for President of the United States. Then came more details on Schneiderman’s use of the state RICO statute, the numbers of Trump associates ensnared and the claim that Rudy Giuliani had been implicated and planned to testify against Trump to help his own situation.

On August 15, Mensch went all in on the Trump human trafficking angle with a bizarre piece that attempted to connect Intranet activity in Russia to Vladimir Putin, the Russian government, some minor airline companies and Trump and his alleged pimping operation.

Only none of it was true. All the information came from a hoaxer who claimed to work in Schneiderman’s office but in fact was someone who had grown frustrated with “dissemination of fake news” by Taylor and Mensch.

Confronted with the fact that most of his hot takes over the previous two months had been based on false information, Taylor posted what he called a “mea culpa” on Twitter, saying, “As a ‘citizen journalist’ I acknowledge my error and do apologize.”

But it’s not at all clear that Taylor or Mensch understand the error Taylor is apologizing for. Mensch, for her part, claims the tweets and stories she authored had other sources, even though the information seemed not to differ from Taylor’s. 

These swashbuckling citizen journalists appear to have swallowed this information hook, line and sinker because of their eagerness to rush to print with what they considered information damaging to Trump. With Mensch’s 260,000 followers and Taylor’s 200,000, that’s a lot of bad information – 8,000 or so retweets on some of the most salacious information – because these “citizen journalists” refused to engage in the craft’s most rudimentary tasks.

“Taylor asked no questions to verify my identity, did no vetting whatsoever, sought no confirmation from a second source – but instead asked leading questions to support his various theories, asking me to verify them,” the source told The Guardian in an email.

Asked why she retweeted Taylor’s false accusations, Mensch said “I don’t think anybody can vet anybody else’s sources.”

And it’s more than that. According to The Guardian, Taylor pushed the source to come up with things that were “really going to shock people …” and said he had been “going farther than I should” by exaggerating the false claims. The two eventually claimed that Bill Clinton would testify against Trump regarding the modeling agency.

Schneiderman’s office released a statement that said the false information highlighted the importance of using “legitimate news outlets, which know to verify their sources and their facts.” Which would those be? The Washington Post, which has become delirious in its pursuit of all things bad about Trump? Or The New York Times, whose top White House reporter, Glenn Thrush, was among those caught sending their stories to the Hillary Clinton campaign for editing?

But that’s not the point. The point is the left has gone mad in its efforts to remove Trump from office. Keith Olbermann, Ed Markey, Joy Reid, Ted Lieu and even Lawrence Tribe have retweeted Mensch’s misinformation. They don’t know the information is true, and they don’t much care as long as it attacks the president.

This is not about exposing misdeeds of the president. This is about saying whatever comes to mind that will damage him and hopefully, for them, remove him from office. He won the election. That no longer seems to matter. 

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