Media Malpractice: Another Fevered Fantasy Completely Dissipates, Revealing an Unmistakable, Oft-Repeated Pattern of False Reporting

This time they claimed Trump intentionally tear gassed peaceful protestors for a photo-op last summer, but the official Inspector General report says otherwise.  From the origins of coronavirus to the attack on the Capitol, a pattern has emerged: Explosive reporting, written before the facts could possibly be in, inevitably implodes sooner or later.  Are claims about the sanctity of the 2020 election next?

To the detriment of our discourse, an unmistakable and often repeated pattern has emerged in the Trump years, if not before.  Mainstream media outlets like CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and others, pump out authoritative sounding stories on controversial topics long before the truth could possibly be known or properly investigated.  The conclusion of these stories is always presented as fact and the fact was generally that Trump did something horrible, his supporters even worse, and they are all lying anyway.  It doesn’t matter the issue in question, it could be something of major importance like the origin of coronavirus or relatively insignificant like the quantity of ice cream Trump consumes.

The stories themselves were usually supported with a combination of anonymous leaks and self-referential sourcing, meaning some supposed, no-name insider said something to a journalist, the journalist repeated it as the unvarnished truth, and then a journalist from another outlet contacted the same source to claim the story was confirmed.  Often, an “expert” was cited to make a definitive sounding statement, whether or not such a statement could be made at the time.  The result, almost invariably, was a dramatic, damaging tale that spread far and wide, an excessive quantity of hand wringing and scolding by the talking heads on the “news” shows, and fiery bluecheck outrage on Twitter and other social media.  Then, whether a week, a month, a year or more later, the story suddenly changed, either invalidated entirely or so altered that the initial conclusion no longer made any sense.

The distinguishing features of this pattern include either claims from an anonymous source, an expert, or both.  The media jumps to the most damaging conclusion based on these claims, knowing full well the facts are not fully known nor could they be so early on in an unfolding story.  Then they broadcast the claims far and wide regardless.  The retraction that follows after not so much, either ignored entirely or stealth edited in the form of some slight “correction” to the content.  This pattern has occurred so often over the past five years it seems like almost every week another example comes to light.

This week, for instance, we learned that Trump did not, in fact, clear a park near the White House for a photo-op as was relentlessly reported last summer.  The original reporting declared that on June 1 then-President Trump ordered the US Park Police to tear gas a crowd of peaceful protesters in Lafayette Park for the sole purpose of clearing the area for his arrival at St. John’s Church.  The instances of the story are legion, as Glenn Greenwald notes this “tale was so pervasive in the media landscape that it would be impossible for any one article to compile all the examples.”  He points out that NPR claimed “Peaceful Protestors Tear-Gassed To Clear Way for Trump Church Photo-Op,” The New York Times said, “Protestors Dispersed With Tear Gas So Trump Could Pose at Church,” and CNN reported the event as “Peaceful Protestors Near White House Tear-Gassed, Shot With Rubber Bullets So Trump Can Have Church Photo Op.”

Of course, the story circulated beyond the media itself, providing fodder for Trump’s political opponents, a key part, if not the whole point, of the pattern.  Kamala Harris held a press conference at the time, declaring “last night I watched as President Trump, having gassed peaceful protesters just so he could do this photo op, then he went on to teargas priests who were helping protesters in Lafayette Park.”  Again, no one really cared what the facts were, indeed none of the actual facts of who ordered what or even precisely what the Park Police used to disperse the crowd were known at the time, but that didn’t stop them from running with the story and the obvious conclusion:  Trump was such a monster he would tear gas the populace just to take a photo.

Alas, it took more than a year for the truth to come out.  The independent Inspector General of the Interior Department, Matt Lee Greenblatt, issued the official report this Wednesday and, lo and behold, none of what the media and Democrat politicians claimed was true, not even close.  Mr. Greenblatt’s report states specifically, “the evidence did not support a finding that the [U.S. Park Police] cleared the park on June 1, 2020, so that then President Trump could enter the park.”  The reason the park was cleared was “to allow a contractor to safely install anti-scale fencing in response to destruction of Federal property and injury to officers that occurred on May 30 and May 31.” Further, Trump wasn’t even involved in the decision, “the evidence established that relevant USPP officials had made those decisions and had begun implementing the operational plan several hours before they knew of a potential Presidential visit to the park, which occurred later that day.”

To my knowledge, neither NPR, CNN, The New York Times, or others have issued any sort of retraction, nor have the Democrat politicians.  The lie served its purpose and to paraphrase Hillary Clinton, what difference does the truth make at this point?  If this were an isolated instance, perhaps one could give the media the benefit of the doubt; as someone who attempts to produce quality content on a regular basis, I know from experience that it’s easy to get something wrong by accident.  Unfortunately, this pattern of media malpractice is well established, with almost as many examples as dramatic headlines about Trump intentionally gassing peaceful people.

Thus, it was only a few weeks ago that we learned coronavirus might have originated from a lab instead of naturally jumping from bats to humans as had been the original narrative.  Once again, the media made conclusive statements at the time that couldn’t possibly be proven and they certainly knew it. Senator Tom Cotton was one of the first to voice his concerns that coronavirus might have been unleashed from a lab, either accidentally or intentionally.  He made these statements on news programs and in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal.  For his efforts, he was immediately branded a kooky conspiracy theorist.  The New York Times claimed he was repeating a “fringe” theory.  The Washington Post said he repeated a “debunked conspiracy theory.”  CNN said he was playing a “dangerous game.”  Some said it was racist to even suggest it, all cited some kind of expert, concluding that “scientists have dismissed the suggestion that the Chinese government was behind the outbreak, but it’s the kind of tale that gains traction.”

At this point, we still don’t know the truth, but the story is rapidly changing, scientists are on record stating specifically why the virus couldn’t have originated naturally, even The Washington Post is running headlines like “The media called the ‘lab leak’ story a ‘conspiracy theory.’ Now the theory has prompted corrections — and serious new reporting,” and the media is blaming it on their favorite boogeyman, Donald Trump.   Time Magazine, for instance, ponders “How Distrust of Donald Trump Muddled the COVID-19 ‘Lab-Leak’ Debate.”  Ultimately, the truth will come out at some point, but the truth itself really isn’t the salient issue for our purposes:  Whatever the actual origin of the virus, the truth could not possibly have been known when the media was making their dramatic pronouncements, but, same as the completely unrelated story about Lafayette Square Park, a lack of evidence did not prevent them from claiming authority and smearing anyone who disagreed.

The same is true of the now debunked story that Trump did nothing while Putin was paying ransoms in Afghanistan for the killing of American soldiers.  Last summer, shortly after the tear-gassed protesters incident, the media was aghast when an anonymous source claimed “Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says,” as per the headline in The New York Times.  The story was leaked at an opportune moment for the anti-Trump faithful:  He was planning to pull all troops out of Afghanistan and was negotiating with the Taliban at the time.  This of course undermined his desire for a full withdrawal as how can you negotiate with anyone taking money to kill you?  As the pattern demands, his political opponents made the predictable hay out of it, complete with innuendo that Trump was a Russian agent, even three months later. “I don’t understand why this president is unwilling to take on Putin when he’s actually paying bounties to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan,” Biden said during the October 22 presidential debate.

Fast forward to April of this year, and surprise, surprise, the story was a total fabrication.  In fact, there was reason to doubt it at the time, but the Pentagon ultimately went on record last fall and said they had no evidence such a thing occurred.  As of April, they still haven’t found any evidence whatsoever, but, as usual, that didn’t stop the media.  They continue to spin the story as some kind of failure of intelligence, instead of their own inability to provide evidence for their claims.  Here’s NBC News, “It’s perhaps the latest example of how much uncertainty pervades the gray world of espionage, in which sources aren’t always reliable and intercepted communications don’t always mean what they seem to.”

There are many other examples of this pattern of media malpractice, too many for one article to paraphrase Mr. Greenwald.  There was the claim that Officer Brian Sicknick was smashed in the head with a fire extinguisher at the Capitol (a false claim actually used in the impeachment proceedings), the fabricated story about Trump not visiting the graves of fallen soldiers in WWII because dead soldiers were losers, the meme that Trump would’ve been frog marched out of the White House were it not for an obscure, untested OLC decision, and many more.

All of which prompt an obvious question: What media manufactured and promoted story, taken for granted as gospel is next?  Is it possible the chattering class got the mother of all stories, that is the sanctity of the 2020 election, wrong as well?  The short answer is:  Yes, there is a lawsuit slowly moving ahead in Georgia with the potential to blow up the entire narrative that the 2020 election was the most secure in history with no widespread fraud, more on that in a moment.

First, let’s consider how this story fits the established pattern of media malpractice.  On November 12, the media immediately declared the election results sacrosanct after a statement from some previously unheard of committee, the Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Executive Committees (no, I have no idea who they are either).  The statement declared “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history…There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”  Incredibly, no one commented that the statement was made a mere 9 days after the election, while votes were still being counted in several states, and, as we have seen before, no real way to know for sure at that time given there thousands and thousands of voting precincts in the country.  This claim was coupled with the irrelevant assertion that there was no “widespread fraud,” despite that only about 40,000 votes in key states decided the outcome out of almost 160,000,0000 total votes.  Add in cases being dismissed in courts on technical grounds without the facts actually being heard, and the mainstream media declared anyone that questioned the many obvious irregularities as a conspiracy theorist conducting an unprecedented assault on democracy.

The end of the story is not yet written, however, thanks to a case underway in closely contested Georgia, where about 12,000 votes decided the outcome in favor of Biden.  The case is based on sworn affidavits from four individuals who assert that they observed thousands of suspicious ballots in Fulton County, part of Atlanta, for Biden, somewhere around 10,000 to 20,000.  The individuals all claim the ballots were suspicious because they were printed on irregular paper, were not folded as they would be in a mail-in ballot envelope, and all of the markings for Biden were identical.  “All of them were strangely pristine,” explained Suzi  Voyles.  In her opinion, she’s never seen anything like it in 20 years monitoring elections in Fulton.  As described by Real Clear Investigations, Ms. Voyles “noticed an alarmingly odd pattern of uniformity in the markings for Joseph R. Biden. One after another, the absentee votes contained perfectly filled-in ovals for Biden — except that each of the darkened bubbles featured an identical white void inside them in the shape of a tiny crescent, indicating they’d been marked with toner ink instead of a pen or pencil.  Adding to suspicions, she noticed that all of the ballots were printed on different stock paper than the others she handled as part of a statewide hand recount of the razor-thin Nov. 3 presidential election. And none was folded or creased, as she typically observed in mail-in ballots that had been removed from envelopes.”  Ms. Voyles claims are further corroborated by 3 other individuals in sworn statements, plus other reports, including from some Democrats.

The Superior Court Judge in the case, Brian Amero, is in fact a Democrat donor himself, but still has issued orders to guard the ballots around the clock until the case can be resolved.  The date for the inspection should be set by the end of the month, and the actual inspection will likely take place in July.  At the same time, Democrat appointees and operatives are doing everything in their power to prevent a formal analysis of the ballots, begging the question as to why.  They claim a ballot can be copied and not folded if the original ballot was damaged somehow in transit, therefore there is nothing to see here, but if that is the case, why not just review the ballots in public for all to see?  Why are they trying to hide something that need not be hidden?

No one knows.  What we do know is that there are also reports of similarly suspicious ballots in other counties, including statements from some Democrats on the matter.  Paul Sperry from Real Clear Investigations writes, “In fact, two Democrat poll workers blew the whistle on similar anomalies they witnessed in neighboring DeKalb and Cobb counties, where the election process also is controlled by Democrats.  Carlos E. Silva, for one, declared in a Nov. 17 affidavit that he observed a similar ‘perfect black bubble’ in absentee ballots for Biden during the recount he worked in DeKalb County. And while overseeing the Cobb County recount, he swore he ‘observed absentee ballots being reviewed with the same perfect bubble that I had seen the night before in DeKalb. All of these ballots had the same characteristics: they were all for Biden and had the same perfect bubble.’”

Of course, the truth will be discovered eventually, and based on the well-established pattern we’ve seen here, no one should be surprised if the media and the experts were wrong all along.  It’s a frighteningly common occurrence these days, on matters big and small, making it no wonder many conservatives like myself have a hard time believing a word they say or a sentence they print. I believe many liberals are aware of this, but choose to play along because they believe it helps their side. That is, until, the same techniques are turned on them at some point, as they surely will given the revolution must eat its own.

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