There Will Be No Media ‘Reckoning’ Over the Steele Dossier


Axios says there’s a “reckoning” in the media over coverage of the Steele dossier after the partisan oppo document’s primary source was charged with lying to the FBI. “It’s one of the most egregious journalistic errors in modern history,” writes Sara Fischer, “and the media’s response to its own mistakes has so far been tepid.”

Tepid is a nice way of putting it. While the Washington Post “corrected” some of its discredited reporting on the dossier, removing portions of reporting connecting former President Donald Trump to Russia, there has been virtually no other accountability. And, really, it’s become modus operandi for the news organizations to “correct” stories in which the entire premise is false. Any sort of “reckoning” would mean a retraction, followed by investigative deep dives, not only reporting the problems with the story themselves but outing the fraudulent sources who participated in the deception. Perhaps that’s going on as we speak, but it’s highly doubtful.

Those who perpetuated the Russia collusion deception — and this means editors and pundits, not only reporters — still hold premier jobs in political media. Many, in fact, have been rewarded with better gigs. Is anyone at the Washington Post or New York Times going to return a Pulitzer? Is anyone going to explain how multiple alleged independent sources regularly buttressed the central fabulistic claim of the dossier? Journalism is ostensibly about transparency and truth, yet not one of these sentinels of democracy has explained how they were supposedly fooled for years, exhibiting not a modicum of skepticism — one of the most vital components of good journalism. When asked by Axios about the Steele dossier, the two outlets that churned out some of the most sensationalistic and conspiratorial content of the Trump era, CNN and MSNBC, wouldn’t even comment.

The most charitable explanation is that reporters had become such saps for Democrats that they were inclined to believe the most fantastical stories imaginable. The more plausible explanation, considering the lack of any genuine accountability and self-reflection, is that they were in on it.

There’s the argument out there that contends that Trump and his associates did and said things that made the dossier’s claims plausible. Well, Trump’s words could have been a big enough story on their own. The president made no secret of his personal admiration of Vladimir Putin before the election. The notion that a Russian asset (since 1987, even!) would need to go on TV and ask the Russians to ferret out Hillary Clinton’s lost emails seems a stretch. To excuse what came next from the media would be tantamount to excusing widespread coverage of birtherism simply because so many of former President Barack Obama’s abuses of executive power or inability to say America was exceptional was antithetical to the Constitution he swore to protect. The press exists to avoid the proliferation of faulty information and conspiracies, not to perpetuate them because of their partisan assumptions.

Would Buzzfeed editor Ben Smith, now media reporter for the New York Times, have published an uncorroborated “dossier” on birtherism or, for that matter, Biden’s dealing with his corrupt son, giving it undue attention and credibility? The media and tech companies wouldn’t even allow a properly sourced New York Post story about Hunter Biden to be shared in the run-up to the election. Just more proof of malfeasance, not sloppiness. The chances of every single alleged mistake skewed in the same direction are, of course, infinitesimally small.

What difference, at this point, does it make? Well, for one thing, the full truth is opaque, and the historical record has yet to be corrected. It still says that “Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops,” a story that spawned from the environment created by the Steele dossier on the New York Times website. This piece, like so many others, is incorrect. The “intelligence officials” who spread that story were running what amounted to a shadow government using a partisan concoction, illegal Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requests, and a pliant media to sink the foreign policy of the elected president. It’s one of the least democratic things I can think of.

It’s worth knowing how it happened — yet the public gets no explanation.

David Harsanyi is a senior writer at National Review.


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13 days ago

When are those that are slandered and libeled by media and lying politicians going to get a conservative or libertarian group of lawyers to go after these creeps and sue them into oblivion? Take away and freeze their assets and licenses etc like they did to Rudy Guliani so they can’t do more harm.

Mario Capparuccini
13 days ago

The Democratic Party is the party of Satan. We must not be surprised that they lie, cheat, steal, and kill like their father the devil and their communist ancestors. Their accomplices in the mainstream media are completely compliant in their evil. We must depend entirely on the Lord God Almighty and renew our opposition by fervent prayer and proper involvement in our republic.

13 days ago

The best we can hope for is the media companies lose enough advertising money that they make changes.

14 days ago

The Democraps have no sense of proopriety, honesty, and truth. The DParty has one guiding principle that worms its way into every action, decision, and public statement made by its magpies … Party first priority above all other principles of governance and honesty. REMBER: The Democrap Party seeks to RULE … not GOVERN, which is a common dominating feature of Communism.

14 days ago

Can’t censor the News Media. That will benefit the Commie liberals much more than supporters of a Constitutional Democracy (which needs a little tuning at this stage in time). What can be done is publicly scorn news media output that is political propaganda …and make it easier to sue media that puts out items that damage or harm citizens with untruths which have no referential support for the news. Seems to me from what I’ve been reading lately, Trump has a clear path and right to sue the pants off of several news outlets for personal, not political, damages. No matter what law is passed to accomplish this, it will have to be revised periodically because the Media will devise ways to skirt such laws.

15 days ago

This will take years, maybe decades, the way the truth about alger hiss finally came out in the venona transcripts. By then the history books will have been written and generations taught that trump was in fact guilty. Lying by omission is still lying.

15 days ago

When all of their assets are seized for aiding and abetting the enemies in treasonous acts, they’ll reflect of their ridiculous decisions to try and gain power over this freedom loving nation! About the same time AMAC quits censoring comments!

15 days ago

If the Republicans ever regain power and grow a pair, there needs to be a new law written that defines “The Press”. For example, presents information as presented, presents information in a fair and balanced perspective, and so on. Most of the MSM is simply the Pravda arm of the Socialist (democrat) party and because they are classified as “The Press”, it’s very hard to hold them accountable. We need to figure out how to change this so that organizations such as CNN and MSNBC can and will be held accountable for knowingly misrepresenting informaton.

15 days ago
Reply to  FedUp

I long ago (many many years past) quit watching CNN (Clinton News Network) and MS-NBC (Mostly Sheet – No Brain Content). They are obviously propaganda outlets for the liberal Democrap Party. I don’t care to be subject to brain-washed with Communist BS).

13 days ago
Reply to  FedUp

They need to quit having meetings in the White House asking questions of these idiots and getting no answer or some off the wall comment that doesn’t even reflect the question that was asked. Time to quit playing this game of cat and mouse and start taking action

Kevin S
15 days ago

I suspect Satan has a pending housing crisis as these players die off.

Stephen Russell
15 days ago

Media paid the for dossier etc day 1

Vilas Gamble
15 days ago

There could be an accounting if President Trump decides to sue the several news outlets that perpetuated this lie. It will be interesting to see if he does.

13 days ago
Reply to  Vilas Gamble

He will probably get the same outcome in the court system that he got with the election fraud

Geraldine McGann
15 days ago

Real journalism is dead in the MSM. May as well be bowing to the likes of the CCP. Disgusting!

anna hubert
15 days ago

It died the day they were too chikcken to publish simultaneously across the world the cartoons of mohamed that appeared in Denmark did not stand with Charlie Hebdo either no integrity no shame

14 days ago
Reply to  anna hubert

Why am, I not allowed to vote for this comment, AMAC? Are you becoming MSN?

15 days ago

The only folks held to the FIRE or JAILED are the PATRIOTS. The American loving MAJORITY have been and are being persecuted by the SEDITIONIST LEFT WINGERS running AMUCK in our Nation

15 days ago

Of course there won’t be any negative consequences for the vast majority of people associated with this national disgrace. There never is. The ones at the very top are never held accountable for their actions, because the vast majority of the public has already moved on to the latest outrage of the day. Which in turn will be buried by the one after that and the one after that. As long as the American people don’t really stand up and demand true accountability, this little game of “follow the shiny ball” will continue.

Oh sure maybe a few low level players will be sacrificed, so they can claim “justice was served”, but I don’t expect the likes of Clinton, Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Obama or the other senior players to ever get charged or see the inside of a court room to what amounted as a coordinated soft coup of the Presidency of the United States.

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