Accuracy in Media

It is becoming formulaic.

Some news event happens that lefties hope finally will destroy Donald Trump, and the high dudgeon, pearl clutching hysterics begin.

The Washington Post has developed something of a standing layout for Scandal Days. At the top is a lead story with a headline that gets the judge, jury and verdict part out of the way.

Then, there is the seemingly obligatory story about how President Trump is so furious he is patrolling the halls of the White House in his robe stopping only to unload irrational nastiness on downtrodden employees.

Then, there is The Take from Dan Balz that tells us what new floor of depravity we have crashed through in the last 24 hours.

There are pulled quotes and teases to still more stories, a sonorous editorial on the seriousness of the charge, the urgency of a response and the conclusion that this presidency needs to end and the sooner the better. Across the page are three or more op-eds saying roughly the same from other angles.

It was all there on Wednesday as the media had a day to digest the news that Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, met with a Russian lawyer who said she had information that could damage Hillary Clinton in the campaign.

The main headline was “Trump Jr. emails contradict denials,” a straightforward assertion that he lied. A subhead added, “Welcomed Offer of Russian Aid on Clinton,” then another: “Tweets of exchange have some calling for testimony.”

Before you have read a line of text that reflects the Post’s reporting, as opposed to its opinionating, you’ve been told Trump Jr. participated in an email exchange that “contradicts denials.”

This is fleshed out in the second paragraph of the story. “But the release Tuesday of a 2016 email exchange in which the president’s son welcomed the assistance of a ‘Russian government attorney’ offered the clearest contradiction of the White House’s denials – marking an escalation in the controversy that has engulfed the Trump presidency.”

Let’s consider those words.

First, none of this appears if Trump Jr. had not published the entire exchange of emails to his Twitter account. The Trump administration has made a practice of rushing to get out any information its opponents seek in these various probes. There is no push or pull to get the information out. It comes out quickly, which means the various scandals disappear almost as quickly as they appear.

Second, it is never pointed out the attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya, has nothing to do with the Russian government or that her mission was to get Trump Jr. in the room to pitch him on rules regarding adoption of Russian children by Americans.

Also, do the White House denials extend to meetings Trump’s children had that proved not worthy of discussion and which both Trumps say the president did not know about until the last few days? And does it mean anything that Hillary Clinton’s campaign accepted information from agents of the government of Ukraine that forced Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to resign?

Balz provides the obligatory “This is the big one” story. “A Russia revelation unlike any other,” it is entitled. “There have been other moments in the lengthy investigation of Russian government interference in the 2016 presidential election that have registered on the legal and political Richter scales, but none with the power and explosiveness of the email chain involving Donald Trump Jr. that became public Tuesday,” it begins.

The Trump Jr. emails provide “the clearest indication to date that Trump campaign officials and family members were at least prepared to do business with a foreign adversary in the mutual goal of taking down Hillary Clinton,” Balz continued.

Across the page, “The White House has been thrust into chaos after days of ever-worsening revelations about a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a lawyer characterized as representing the Russian Government, and the president fumes against his enemies and senior aides circle one another with suspicion, according to top White House officials and outside advisers.”

Remember how those top White House officials and outside advisers had Steve Bannon and Reince Preibus at war and either or both of them on the way out soon? And how they told us Kelly Anne Conway was in way over her head and about to be dismissed as well? Strangely, none of this has happened.

And in the opinion section, “The emails could hardly be more incriminating,” Ruth Marcus says, although what crime is left for us to imagine. “They were told there’d be dirt,” headlined Kathleen Parker’s piece. “More than smoke,” the lead editorial was headed.

The fact is there is little more than smoke here. Someone offered Trump Jr. dirt on his father’s opponent. Its opponent never once shied from accepting dirt from outside sources – and certainly would not have rejected a request from the Russians.

The meeting lasted 20 minutes. No useful information changed hands. Trump Jr. left and never followed up. And the American people seemed to understand what happened and react with a giant shrug. As Derek Hunter points out, nothing about the Trump Jr. controversy ever reached trending status on Twitter despite the fervid and relentless efforts of the liberal press.

If what he did is a crime, most of the Washington political establishment would be in prison. The fact is this lawyer may lead to more problems for Democrats than Republicans. She was photographed eight days after her meeting with Trump Jr. sitting behind a top Obama administration intelligence official as his guest at a congressional hearing. She has connections to Fusion GPS, the firm that gave us the Golden Showers dossier – which Democrats and RINOs jointly accepted on behalf of the Clinton campaign.

You won’t find that in the Post. It has its layout. It has its formula. And honestly presenting any story regarding President Trump in any way is not part of either.

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