If I may borrow Glenn Reynolds’s formulation, I would like to say that we’ve descended into some sort of bizarre hellworld in which Glenn Greenwald is the voice of reason. In his observations on what he calls “corporate journalism,” he is also the voice of fairness and responsibility.
Over the weekend I wrote about the Giuliani corrections served up by the Washington Post, the New York Times and NBC. In his column on the corrections, Glenn Greenwald adds an important count to the indictment:
One of the primary plagues of corporate journalism, which I have documented more times than I can count, just reared its ugly head again to deceive millions of people with fake news. When one large news outlet publishes a false story based on whispers from anonymous security state agents with the CIA or FBI, other news outlets quickly purport that they have “independently confirmed” the false story, in order to bolster its credibility (oh, it must be true since other outlets have also confirmed it).
This is an obvious scam — they have not “independently confirmed” anything but rather merely acted as servants to the same lying security state agents who planted the original false story — but they do it over and over, creating the deceitful perception that a fake story has been “confirmed” by multiple outlets, thus bolstering its credibility in the public mind. It was the favored tactic for spreading debunked Russiagate frauds and is still used. One of the most vivid examples occurred in December, 2017, when CNN falsely reported what it hyped as “a major bombshell”: that Donald Trump, Jr. had advance access to the WikiLeaks archive. Within an hour, NBC News’ Ken Dilanian and CBS News both claimed they had “independently confirmed” this fairy tale. When it turned out that it was a complete lie, all based on a false date on an email to Trump Jr., these outlets embarrassingly corrected it hours later and then simply moved on as if it never happened, never explaining how multiple outlets could possibly have all “independently confirmed” the same blatant falsehood.
On Thursday night, The Washington Post, citing anonymous sources (of course), claimed that the FBI gave a “defensive briefing” to Rudy Giuliani in 2019, before he traveled to Ukraine, that he was being targeted by a Russian disinformation campaign to hurt Joe Biden’s candidacy, yet he ignored the FBI’s warnings and went anyway. The Post also claimed that the right-wing news outlet OANN was similarly briefed. The claim about Giuliani not only predictably ricocheted all over social media and cable news — where, as usual, it was uncritically treated as Truth — but it was shortly thereafter “independently confirmed” by both NBC News’ de facto CIA spokesman Ken Dilanian along with The New York Times.
What was the problem with this story? It was totally false. The FBI never briefed Giuliani on any such thing….
Read the whole thing here.