Accuracy in Media

New York Times reporter Sharon LaFraniere admitted that Paul Manafort is facing charges for work totally unrelated to the 2016 presidential campaign, but still tries to tie Manafort’s possible crimes to the president.

In her article, headlined, “Manafort’s Trial Isn’t About Russia, but It Will Be in the Air,” LaFraniere said that talk of Russia “inevitably creeps in” to Manafort’s trial, yet doesn’t mention this is because a main focus for the mainstream media is to help usher in that creep.

“When they present their evidence in the financial fraud trial of Paul Manafort beginning this week, federal prosecutors have promised the judge, no government witness will even utter the word Russia,” LaFraniere writes.

“Russia inevitably looms over the entire proceeding anyway. The trial, scheduled to get underway on Tuesday morning with jury selection in federal court in Alexandria, Va., will not be about collusion or Russian disinformation, even if a stray reference to the country inevitably creeps in. But the subtext — whether Mr. Manafort knew about Russian efforts to influence the election, and whether the threat of conviction could lead him to cooperate with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III — weighs not just on the prosecution and defense, but on the White House as well.”

LaFraniere does not report on any evidence that Manafort or the Trump campaign engaged in collusion with Russia, but speculatively calls Manafort a “potentially pivotal figure” in the inquiry by Robert Mueller.

“Mr. Manafort has given no indication that he wants to help the government or has information that would do so; his friends say he believes he is innocent and will be acquitted,” LaFraniere writes.

“But if he does know something of interest to Mr. Mueller and chooses to enter a plea agreement, his cooperation could help prosecutors put together a clearer picture of how Russian actors intervened in the presidential election and how the Trump campaign, wittingly or unwittingly, interacted with them. A number of events and relationships that have come up in Mr. Mueller’s inquiry touch on Mr. Manafort’s association with the Trump campaign and help explain why he is still seen as a potentially pivotal figure in the Russia inquiry even if his trial is limited to charges unrelated to the president.”

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