Fake News at the Washington Post

From Glenn Greenwald:

IN THE PAST six weeks, the Washington Post published two blockbuster stories about the Russian threat that went viral: one on how Russia is behind a massive explosion of “fake news,” the other on how it invaded the U.S. electric grid. Both articles were fundamentally false. Each now bears a humiliating editor’s note grudgingly acknowledging that the core claims of the story were fiction: The first note was posted a full two weeks later to the top of the original article; the other was buried the following day at the bottom.

The second story on the electric grid turned out to be far worse than I realized when I wrote about it on Saturday, when it became clear that there was no “penetration of the U.S. electricity grid” as the Post had claimed. In addition to the editor’s note, the Russia-hacked-our-electric-grid story now has a full-scale retraction in the form of a separate article admitting that “the incident is not linked to any Russian government effort to target or hack the utility” and there may not even have been malware at all on this laptop.


After spreading the falsehoods far and wide, raising fear levels and manipulating U.S. political discourse in the process (both Russia stories were widely hyped on cable news), journalists who spread the false claims subsequently note the retraction or corrections only in the most muted way possible, and often not at all. As a result, only a tiny fraction of people who were exposed to the original false story end up learning of the retractions.

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  • Retired military

    Hey Dan Rather is teaching a “Truth in the News” course. You cant make this shit up.

  • LiberalNightmare

    First rule of holes.
    If you find yourself in one, quit digging.

  • Hank_M

    At least they issued retractions. The local news here in Ma continues to beat to death the so-called Russian hacking of the election, still offering no facts to back it up. There’s no doubt they’re trying to cement the thought in everyone’s mind that Trump was elected fraudulently.

    World News Tonite is doing the same.

    This all reminds me of something I read in Nov. in Deadline Hollywood by a former NY Times reporter, Michael Cieply. He wrote: “It was a shock on arriving at the New York Times in 2004….By and large, talented reporters scrambled to match stories with what internally was often called “the narrative.” We were occasionally asked to map a narrative for our various beats a year in advance, square the plan with editors, then generate stories that fit the pre-designated line.”

    • Constitution First

      What was called Journ-o-list.

      The 3am conference call with all the major Malfeasant Media heads to set the “narrative” for the next day. You could cut and search whole paragraphs of copy and get the identical hit in every major paper and broadcast medium.
      Unbeknownst to them, they had a mole on their call list who later exposed them.
      It puts Stalin’s propaganda machine to shame.

      • Hank_M

        Good point. Forgot about Journolist where they all coordinate their reporting behind the scenes.

  • TheyTukRJobz

    This is what modern advocacy “journalism” looks like. The media says “frog” and its sheep start hopping obediently.

  • pennywit

    The biggest problem, especially at the Post, is that a lot of the old journalists are gone. When the Post and other legacy media outlets hit hard times, the older, more experienced journalists (read: most highly paid) were laid off or given buyouts. They took their money, left their papers, and took jobs in PR, at think tanks, and in the industries they formerly covered.

    Their replacements are not bad journalists, precisely, but they lack deep institutional knowledge and, more importantly, they lack experience. The new guys can be entirely too credulous, and sources can manipulate them far more easily than they were able to manipulate the experienced journalists.

    • jim_m

      I disagree. Having two family members who are journalists, they attest tot he fact that the character of journalism has changed. Where once journalists were focused on delivering the facts of the story regardless of ideology, they are today only interested in reporting that which advances the left wing agenda.

      40 years ago a journalist might influence the story by reporting facts n a certain order or emphasizing some over others, but they reported ALL the facts and did so more or less objectively. Today they only report those facts they see fit to and with increasing frequency make them up when they don’t have the ones they want.

      It isn’t about experience. It is about the loss of honesty and integrity and the advance of advocacy journalism in their place. You make it sound like the poor journalists are victims. That could not be further from the truth.

      • IOWAHAWK describes it brilliantly thus:

        1. Identify a respected institution.
        2. kill it.
        3. gut it.
        4. wear its carcass as a skin suit, while demanding respect.#lefties

        They have so far done this with:

        1. Primary Education
        2. Hollywood Films
        3. Secondary Education
        4. Lame Stream Media
        5. Higher Education
        6. The NFL

        Dishonoorable Mention: our progtard contingent.

        • stan25

          Don’t forget about mainstream charity foundations. Many of these were set up by conservative wealthy people and now entirely operated by the elite leftists i.e. The Ford and Tides Foundations.

    • Walter_Cronanty

      I have to agree with Jim. A whole lot of “journalists” who graduate with a journalism degree [can you get a job as a “reporter” anymore without a degree?] are more interested in “changing the world” than informing it.

      • pennywit

        The really interesting thing about this story, IMO, is that Erik Wemple — the WaPo’s own media critic — called the WaPo editors to ask for an explanation of how the story got in the paper, and they wouldn’t give him an interview.

  • Vagabond661

    Absence of Malice?

  • Constitution First

    File this with: The Sun rises in the east.
    “Proof” of the Russian hacking came in the form a clip from the video game Fallout 4.
    If they’re going to be a serial liars, they need to get whole lot better at the lying part.

  • Wild_Willie

    If the intelligence committee was instructed to wait until Friday to update Trump, we know what that means. Their story was BS. Fake. Made up. A distraction for the peons. ww

  • yetanotherjohn

    There is another side of this. Fake news, not because they got the details wrong, but because they failed to report significant facts (or the entire story). Take the case of the Chicago “facebook” torture. http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/curtis-houck/2017/01/04/abc-nbc-skip-white-chicago-man-being-tortured-live-facebook-four

    Short summary of the story. Four blacks tortured a mentally deficient white kid for 30 minutes, streaming the torture on facebook. There were several comments about “F*ck Trump” and “F*ck white people” made during the event. The four blacks have been arrested.

    Imagine if the races were reversed, the comments were “F*ck black people” and “F*ck Clinton”. How long before the story would have died down?

    Any chance for the press to do some contemplation on:
    1) Perhaps their hysteria about Trump being elected had anything to do with this?
    2) Just what is the predominate political party in Chicago/ Illinois where this occurred?
    3) Compare hoaxes by liberals about Trump supporters attacking minorities to this actual event?
    4) The racial healing under Obama?

    Compare how the press handled the electric grid hacking and this story. The short summary for our modern press is quick on the draw if the story supports the narrative de jour that supports liberals or hurts conservative, slow walk any corrections or stories if the story hurts liberals or supports conservatives.

    My personal split from trusting the media was in the 80’s when Dan Rather reported that an American was killed when the helicopter he was on was shot down during a contra attack on a school in Nicaragua. The story made me stop and re-access my support for the contras and by inference Reagan. Did I really want to be on the side of people attacking schools?

    A little more digging found that every word of the story was true, but there was much more to the story. The helicopter was a medical evacuation chopper. It wasn’t participating in the attack, but evacuating wounded. It was shot down while an attack was being made, but was several miles away. The school was an officer training camp for the Nicaraguan government. The American was a volunteer, independent of the US government.

    To the best of my knowledge, CBS never corrected the wrong impression of their original story. Since then, I have taken media reports with a grain of salt. Over the last 30 years, the grain of salt has gotten larger as the media has gotten worse.

    Full disclosure: Dan Rather and I were both in a church Easter pageant. He was one of three narrators and I was a infant in my mothers arms in a crowd scene.

  • Walter_Cronanty