The year in journalism: Mainstream media flunks the Trump challenge

2017 posed a challenge to the mainstream media. Could it set aside its hatred of President Trump and report honestly on him and his administration? To the surprise of no one who had been paying attention, the media flunked this challenge.

The failure commenced immediately. The day Trump was inaugurated, a White House reporter claimed, incorrectly, that the Trump transition team had removed a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office.

“Sadly,” say the editors of the Washington Examiner, “this erroneous report and a handful of others on that same day breathlessly and unquestioningly parroted by reporters across platforms and outlets proved to be the norm, not the exception, for a year that has seen a dismaying and troubling decline in the quality of political journalism.” A few days after the phony MLK story, the Washington Post reported that the State Department’s entire senior administrative team had resigned en masse in protest of President Trump. The story was misleading at best, and the Post had to back away from it.

In February, the New York Times reported that “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence.” But James Comey, testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, said of this story: “In the main, it was not true.”

In a June editorial about the shooting of Steve Scalise, the New York Times falsely stated that a link existed between political rhetoric and the 2011 shooting of Democrat congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The Times was later forced to admit that “in fact, no such link was established.” (This wasn’t an anti-Trump story per se, but the story wrongly attacked Sarah Palin, an early Trump supporter, and the falsehood stemmed from the same bias that drives big journalism’s resistance to the president).

Also in June, CNN falsely reported that then-Trump transition team official Anthony Scaramucci met with a Russian state bank four days before the inauguration. CNN had to retract the story and apologize to Scaramucci. It accepted “resignations” from the three reporters responsible for the story.

The same month, several mainstream media outlets followed the lead of the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman in reporting that all 17 American intelligence agencies agreed that Russia orchestrated hacking attacks during the 2016 presidential election. In reality, only the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, and the office of the director of national intelligence made this assessment. The Times was forced to issue a correction.

This month, ABC News reported, falsely, Michael Flynn would testify that Trump told him to make contact with Russian officials before the November election. And CNN falsely reported that members of the Trump campaign received an email offering a decryption key and website address for hacked Wikileaks documents on September 4. In reality, the email arrived ten days later, after all of the information contained therein was already publicly available.

These falsehoods (hat tip to The Daily Wire for collecting them) and others we could cite, have one thing in common — they all made Trump (or, in one case, Trump supporters) look bad. I’m not aware of any false stories peddled by the the mainstream media that made Trump look good.

The Examiner concludes:

Too many reporters have revealed this year they’re willing to believe the worst of this administration. “Too good to check” has never had it so good.

Clearly, the mainstream media has flunked the Trump challenge.

Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.