In the Washington Post’s lead story today, another screed about how Trump allegedly is selling out to the Russians, Philip Rucker writes:
After Putin denied in his meeting with Trump any such election interference, the U.S. president tried to turn the page altogether on the issue of Russian hacking. As special counsel Robert S. Mueller III investigates Russian interference and possible collusion with Trump campaign officials, Trump has repeatedly labeled the issue a hoax and has portrayed it as a dark cloud unfairly hanging over his first six months as president.
This is low, dishonest journalism.
President Trump has labelled the issue of Russian collusion a hoax which, so far, it seems to be. However, he has not said that this issue of Russian interference is a hoax. To the contrary, he has said a number of times that the Russians probably did interfere.
The Post and many others would like him to go further and say, without qualification, that the Russians did interfere. If the evidence he’s been presented with supports such certainty, then Trump should say so.
But it’s simply not true that Trump has labelled the Russian interference issue a hoax. Indeed, Rucker grudgingly acknowledges later in his article that Trump has said Russia probably interfered, but muddies the waters by also saying that Trump has expressed doubt as to whether such interference occurred. Since reviewing the evidence presented to him on the question, Trump has consistently said that Russia probably interfered.
In any event, Rucker’s acknowledgement comes late in the article. Someone who read only the portion of the article that appears on the front page would not see it. (Nor would he see it in the headline that appears in the paper edition.)
Note the slippery way in which Rucker claims that Trump calls the election interference a hoax. He takes two separate issues — collusion and interference — lumps them together, and then tries to make it seem as if what is true of Trump’s stance on one of the issues — collusion — is true of his stance on the other — interference.
A reporter for a decent high school newspaper couldn’t get away with this sleight of hand. A lawyer who tried it in a brief would likely incur the wrath of a judge.
Why, then, does it fly at the Washington Post? I think it’s because this is the kind of journalism the Post, an organ of the Resistance, desires.