The Anonymous Sources of Washington Post and CNN Fake News
How fake news gets made.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, writes about radical Islam and the left
Media fake news is everywhere.
The latest media outrage is driven by a Washington Post story about intelligence disclosures based on claims by anonymous sources. The _Post_’s big hit pieces are mainly based on anonymous sources.
Its latest hit piece runs a quote from, “a former senior U.S. official who is close to current administration officials.” That’s an anonymous source quoting hearsay from other anonymous sources.
This isn’t journalism. It’s a joke.
Last week, the Washington Post unveiled a story based on “the private accounts of more than 30 officials at the White House.” The fake news story falsely claimed that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein threatened to resign.
Rod had a simple answer when asked about that piece of fake news. “No.”
So much for 30 anonymous sources and for the Washington Post’s credibility. But the media keeps shoveling out pieces based on anonymous sources and confirmed by anonymous sources while ignoring the disavowals by those public officials who are willing to go on the record.
The Comey memo story is based on, according to the New York Times, “two people who read the memo.” And then “one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of it to a Times reporter.”
And his dog.
The supposed memo contradicts Comey’s own testimony to Congress under oath.
The Times hasn’t seen the memo. No one has seen the memo except the anonymous sources that may or may not exist. The media’s fake news infrastructure relies heavily on anonymous sources. And anonymous sources are the media’s way of saying, “Just trust us.”
The question is why would anyone trust the media?
Comey fake news is popular on the left because it is convinced that he is the key to reversing their election defeat. Recently CNN got its fake news fingers burned with a story claiming that the former FBI Director had asked for more resources for the Russia investigation before he was fired.
Where did CNN get its story from? Anonymous sources. Or, as the story put it, “two sources familiar with the discussion.”
Sources “familiar with the discussion” is up there with “a former senior U.S. official who is close to current administration officials.” And their neighbor’s dog who barks exclusively to CNN.
Rod Rosenstein and Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe both shot down CNN’s fake news. CNN’s headline was, “New Acting FBI Director Contradicts White House on Comey.” Its fake news was referenced only as, “Amid reports that Comey had asked for more resources for the Russia investigation, McCabe testified that he believed the bureau had adequate resources to complete the job.”
CNN did not acknowledge that the fake reports had come from it. It phrased it in passive and vague language. And it left out a crucial part of McCabe’s response. “When we need resources, we make those requests here. So I’m not aware of that request and it’s not consistent with my understanding of how we request additional resources. That said, we don’t typically request resources for an individual case. And as I mentioned, I strongly believe that the Russian investigation is adequately resourced.”
CNN didn’t just push fake news. It covered up its crime. And it’s the cover-up that proves the crime.
Media outlets like CNN and the Washington Post often knows that they’re pushing lies. WaPo’s fact checkers shot down the claim that rape is a pre-existing condition. But the paper ran a piece titled, “I Was Raped. Thanks to Republicans, I Could Be Denied Insurance.” The editors know quite well which of these pieces will have more of an impact.
But the Post has a dozen stories mentioning the Comey resources fake news.
The Washington Post isn’t in the news business. After its takeover by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, it’s in the business of manufacturing viral Trump hit pieces. It got a viral fake news hit with its lie that Press Secretary Sean Spicer was hiding in the bushes to avoid them. There was an equally snarky correction issued that was largely irrelevant. Having manufactured a piece of fake news fit for a Saturday Night Live skit, the Post then dutifully reported on the Saturday Night Live skit featuring its fake news item.
In the past there would have been a world of difference between the Washington Post and Saturday Night Live. Today they are part of the same lefty echo chamber. The media, all the various parts of it, is now one big influence operation. The machine works by developing and taking fake news attacks viral. WaPo and SNL are in the same business. There isn’t even much of a stylistic difference.
The Washington Post’s “Trump fired Comey because he’s taller” could easily have come from Saturday Night Live, The Onion or the Daily Show.
The truly damning epitaph of American journalism is that there isn’t much of a difference. Saturday Night Live isn’t doing comedy and the Washington Post isn’t doing journalism. They’re both manufacturing viral Trump attacks.
Getting your news from the Washington Post is as worthless as getting it from Saturday Night Live.
While more respectable papers like the Post and the Times occupy the top rung of the fake news ladder, CNN has become the National Enquirer of Trump bashing. No story is too petty or fake to get airtime or site space. Recent examples that have gone viral include, “Is the President Afraid of Stairs” and “President Gets 2 Scoops of Ice Cream, Everyone Else 1.”
CNN’s fake news is constantly being shot down by the facts. But it just doubles down on its lies.
“We will not insult your intelligence by pretending it’s legitimate. Nor will we aid and abet the people trying to misinform you,” CNN’s Don Lemon had blustered when trying to suppress the Rice spying story.
CNN insults the intelligence of its viewers every minute that they watch it. It offers up a stream of misinformation while trying to suppress legitimate news. Much of this misinformation takes the form of spreading lefty fake news memes whether it’s rape as a preexisting condition or Republican beer.
And even when corrections appear, they exist only for the purpose of plausible deniability. The original fake news gets rolled into multiple news stories, blog posts and editorials that never get updated or corrected.
And even if they were to be, the damage would be done. That’s the way fake news works.
CNN and the Washington Post are throwing mud and assuming that some of it will stick. And even when it’s officially corrected, it still sticks around. Months later, the Post site still carries an uncorrected reference to the AP fake news story which claimed that Trump had threatened to invade Mexico even after it had been denied by both governments and had been pulled for being unverifiable.
It’s a safe bet that rape as a preexisting condition and Comey’s Russian resources will also stick around.
“Applying the fake news label is an attack on the truth. It’s reckless and corrosive to democracy, and elected officials attempt to deliberately and systematically erode the credibility of news organizations because they object to factually accurate reporting,” the CEO of the Washington Post insisted last month.
But it’s the media that is reckless and corrosive to democracy. It has eroded its credibility with fake news. Factually accurate reporting has become too difficult and unrewarding. The idea of waiting months or years for an investigation to pay off is alien to the nanosecond news cycle. That’s why every fake Trump scandal is the new Watergate. And fake news is constantly being manufactured.
News organizations are throwing away their credibility to reverse the results of a democratic election. And it’s not only their own credibility that they are throwing away. The marketplace of ideas was based on reason and objectivity. Without them, there was no longer a public square we could all live in.
Media bias began to corrupt the marketplace. But bias meant the selective reporting of facts. Falsehoods could creep in. But generally the media would not just casually run stories that were completely false. It would happen from time to time. But it wouldn’t be a constant practice.
And then a tipping point was reached.
Historians of journalism will argue over when the dam broke. Was it the age of Obama or of Trump? But the day arrived. The sun rose over the CNN Center in Atlanta, the K Street digs of the Washington Post and the offices of other media organizations. And it was no longer a question of selective reporting. We were no longer arguing about the injection of opinion into news stories or journalistic double standards.
The age of fake news had arrived. We no longer have a free press. All we have is a fake press.