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Update May 30, 2019
76 Notable Mistakes and Missteps in Major Media Reporting on Donald Trump
1. Aug. 2016-Nov. 2016:
2. Oct. 1, 2016:
3. Oct. 18, 2016:
4. Nov. 4, 2016:
USA Today misstated Melania Trump’s “arrival date from Slovenia” amid a flurry of reporting that questioned her immigration status from the mid-1990s.
5. Nov. 9, 2016:
6. Jan. 20, 2017:
7. Jan. 20, 2017:
8. Jan. 26, 2017:
9. Jan. 28, 2017
10. Jan. 31, 2017:
11. Feb. 2, 2017:
12. Feb. 2, 2017:
13. Feb. 4, 2017:
14. Feb. 14, 2017:
15. Feb. 22, 2017:
16. April 5, 2017:
17. May 10, 2017:
18. May 27,2018:
19. June 4, 2017:
20. June 6, 2017:
21. June 7, 2017:
22. June 8, 2017:
23. June 22, 2017:
24. December 2, 2017:
25. July 6, 2017:
26. July 6, 2017:
27. Aug. 31, 2017:
28. Sept. 5, 2017:
29. Sept. 7, 2017:
30. Nov. 6, 2017:
31. Nov. 6, 2017:
32. Nov. 29, 2017:
33. Dec. 4, 2017:
34. Dec. 4, 2017:
35. Dec. 5, 2017:
36. Dec. 8, 2017:
37. Jan. 3, 2018:
38. Jan. 12, 2018:
39. Jan. 15, 2018:
40. Feb. 2, 2018:
41. March 8, 2018:
42. March 13, 2018:
43. March 15, 2018:
44. April 1, 2018:
45. April 30, 2018:
46. May 3, 2018:
47. May 7, 2018:
48. May 16, 2018:
49. May 28, 2018
50. May 29, 2018
51. June 1, 2018
52. June 21, 2018
53. June 22, 2018
54. June 28, 2018
55. July 10, 2018
56. July 16, 2018
Washington Post reporter implied Trump doesn’t understand NATO countries. In fact, Trump met with the Finnish President at the NATO summit. Further, Finland is a NATO partner, just not a member.
57. Sept. 14, 2018
The New York Times issues a major correction (below) to an original “unfair” article about U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.
58. Tues. Sept. 18, 2018
The New York Times falsely reported that a man, Mark Judge, testified he remembered an incident more than 30 year ago in which Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is accused of assault. Judge actually said the opposite: he does not remember such an incident, and that the allegations are “absolutely nuts.” The Times corrected its article in an editors’ note.
59. Sept. 23, 2018
Multiple news outlets report that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein has resigned or been fired. Neither turns out to be true. Axios and others eventually “update” and “clarify” their erroneous reports.
60. Oct. 14, 2018
NBC News falsely reports that President Trump praised Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Actually, Trump had praised the Union General Ulysses S. Grant.
61. Nov. 14, 2018
CNN’s Jeff Zeleny reports that President Trump has decided to fire a deputy national security adviser upon the First Lady’s demand. The Wall Street Journal reports the adviser has been “escorted out” of the White House. Later, it’s reported that neither case was true. “This did not happen. She is still here at the WH,” a senior official told the press. The adviser was reassigned to another job.
62. Dec. 24, 2018
It’s discovered that nearly everything written by a Der Spiegel reporter, who had been honored by CNN, about a supposedly racist Trump stronghold town was fabricated–like much of his other work.
Consider supporting the landmark Attkisson v. DOJ/FBI computer intrusion lawsuit: Attkisson 4th Amendment Litigation Fund
63. Dec. 26, 2018
NBC reports that Trump was the first President since 2002 not to visit the troops at Christmastime. But he (and First Lady Melania) did. NBC added a note to its story but left the false headline in place.
64. Jan. 1, 2019
CBS News claimed, in June of 2018, that Trump spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders would retire by the end of the year. She didn’t. As of May 2019, she was still on the job and there had been no correction or editor’s note. The same CBS story also quoted sources as saying the departure of White House assistant Raj Shah was also imminent. It wasn’t. Shah continued to serve seven more months.
65. Jan. 9, 2019
The New York Times issues a correction to a report that falsely stated former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort asked for campaign polling to be given to a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, who has ties to Russia President Putin. Instead, the Times now claims, Manafort actually asked his associate Rick Gates to give polling data to Ukrainian oligarchs –not Deripaska.
While working at Politico, one of the New York Times reporters, Ken Vogel, got caught sending drafts of stories to democratic officials. Another co-author, Maggie Haberman, was considered a “friendly” by Clinton campaign officials who turned to her when she worked at Politico.
“We have had her tee up stories for us before and have never been disappointed. We can do the most shaping by going to Maggie,” wrote Clinton officials in emails.
66. Jan. 11, 2019
Fox TV affiliate in Seattle, Washington airs fake, doctored video of President Trump that altered his face and made it appear as though he had stuck his tongue in and out while giving an Oval Office address.
67. Jan. 18, 2019
The Buzzfeed exclusive with anonymous sources implicating Trump in potentially criminal behavior (that Democrats and pundits said would be the nail in Trump’s impeachment coffin) is refuted in a rare rebuke from Special Counsel Mueller’s office. Buzzfeed stands by its reporting.
68. Jan. 22, 2019
The New York Times and Washington Post are among the publications that issue corrections after falsely reporting that an anti-Trump activist had served in the Vietnam War.
Additionally, multiple news employees, including a CNN employee, apologize for mischaracterizing as the aggressors Trump-supporting teenagers at a pro-life rally.
69. Jan. 26, 2019
The UK Telegraph apologizes for all the facts it got wrong in a Jan. 19 article criticizing the First Lady.
70. Feb. 18, 2019
While some media outlets responsibly reported and properly attributed allegations in the racist attack alleged by actor Jussie Smollett, others did not. Some unskeptically furthered the narrative that Smollett, who is black, was attacked by Trump-supporting racists who put a neck around Smollett’s neck, shouted racial slurs, told him it’s “MAGA” (Make America Great Again) country, and poured bleach on him. While details are still emerging as of this date, Chicago police have stated that Smollett is no longer considered a victim of the crimes he alleged. The New York Times receives special mention here for adding a biased non sequitur in its early reporting that treated skepticism of Smollett’s story as if it were unfounded, and fit in a dig at President Trump’s son.
Sopan Deb, New York Times
But the lack of progress in the investigation has fueled speculation about whether the report was exaggerated. The president’s son Donald Trump Jr., who is known to disseminate conspiracy theories on his Twitter feed, retweeted an article this week about Smollett declining to turn over his cellphone to the police.
71. Various dates: Other faked attacks reported by the news as if confirmed
- A week before Trump was elected, Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Mississippi was torched and the words “Vote Trump” found painted on the outside. The mayor condemned the incident as a hate crime and stated it was “an attack on the black church and the black community.” However, police later arrested a black church member for the arson. They say the man staged the fire to look like an attack by Trump supporters. Even today, some of the corrected news reports retain headlines seeming to blame Trump.
- The day after Trump was elected, an incident at Elon University in North Carolina made national news. Hispanic students found a “hateful note” written on a classroom whiteboard reading, “Bye Bye Latinos.” After the story made news, it was learned that the message was written by “a Latino student who was upset about the results of the election.”
- Also the day after Trump was elected, a gay man — reportedly a filmmaker — claimed that homophobic Trump supporters smashed his face with a bottle outside a bar in Santa Monica, Calif. A bloody photo was posted on Twitter, and he was said to have been treated at a local hospital. Police investigated the media reports. They said no complaint was ever filed, there was no evidence of a crime, and a check of local hospitals showed no victim in such an incident.
- The week after Trump’s election, a Muslim student at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, claimed Trump supporters pulled off her head covering, and assaulted and robbed her. She later admitted fabricatingthe story.
- A month after Trump’s election, a Muslim-American woman claimed Trump supporters tried to steal her headwear and harassed her on the New York City subway. She ultimately was arrested after confessing she made up the whole story.
72. Feb. 26, 2019
It’s as good a day as any to point out that The Washington Post and others reported last November that Trump was imminently about to fire DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. The Post confirmed this with five anonymous sources. The firing was said to be likely to happen the following week.
Nielsen remained on the job for five more months before resigning.
73. Feb. 27, 2019
Testimony by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen seemed to put the final nail in the coffin of the “dossier” claim reported by many— that Cohen had visited Prague to meet with Russians to help collude on Trump’s behalf. Cohen told Congress he’s never been to Prague or the Czech Republic, for that matter. McClatchy even reported that Cohen’s cell phone had pinged off Prague towers. Where did this apparently false information come from? “Four people spoke with McClatchy on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of information shared by their foreign intelligence connections. Each obtained their information independently from foreign intelligence connections,” reported McClatchy.
74. March 1, 2019
The Washington Post deleted a tweet containing false reporting about a January 19 incident regarding a standoff between Trump-supporting pro-life Catholic high school students and a pro-choice Native American activist. The Post wrongly stated, without attribution, that the activist had fought in the Vietnam War. The activist also falsely stated that a high school student had blocked him and “wouldn’t allow him to retreat.” These events were later called into question, and the Washington Post is being sued in a multi-million dollar libel suit over its allegedly false reporting and misrepresentations. The Post also posted an “editor’s note” on this date stating that “a more complete assessment” of the incident contradicted or failed to confirm accounts as originally reported, including that a particular student was trying to instigate a conflict.
75. Various dates
Multiple reporters and media outlets have provided false information and/or quoted incorrect anonymous sources as to the timing of the release of Special Counsel Mueller’s report on Trump-Russia collusion. The Washington Post said it would be out in summer of 2018. Bloomberg said it would be shortly after the 2018 Midterm elections. In February 2019, CNN, The Washington Post and NBC reported the report was coming the last week of February. However, it was not announced at that time.
The release of the Mueller report in April 2019 belies countless news stories over more than two years. The report does not find collusion between Trump and Russia President Putin and also concludes there’s no evidence that any American conspired or coordinated with any Russian. The many who claimed there was hard evidence of collusion in hand proved to be wrong, yet there is no record of media apologies and corrections on these points.
76. May 29, 2019
The Wall Street Journal reports the Navy used a “tarp” to cover the name of the U.S.S. John S. McCain so that President Trump wouldn’t see it on his recent visit to Yokosuka, Japan. (The late Sen. John McCain frequently attacked Trump and cast a deciding vote contrary to McCain’s campaign promise to repeal Obamacare. Trump also attacked McCain and derided McCain’s performance as a soldier in Vietnam where McCain was held as a Prisoner of War.)
After the tarp news is reported, reporters quote McCain’s daughter attacking Trump as if he had given the orders to cover the name.
It is further reported that the U.S.S. John McCain was kept out of Trump’s view, and that sailors wearing hats with the ship’s name on it were turned away and/or given the day off so that Trump would not see the McCain name.
However, shortly after these news reports, key parts of the storyline began to fall apart.
The one grain of truth appeared to be that, in advance of Trump’s trip, a military official sent an email directing that the U.S.S. McCain be kept from Trump’s view. However, importantly, that direction was not followed. Further, Trump and White House aides indicated Trump played no role and was unaware of the direction.
Significantly, military officials stated that it was untrue that a tarp was placed over the ship’s name to block it from Trump’s view. They say it was the other way around: a tarp on the ship for maintenance was removed for Trump’s visit.
Further, U.S. officials said a paint barge in front of the U.S.S. John S. McCain was ordered to be moved for Trump’s visit and was gone by the time he arrived.
The tarpaulin was used as part of hull preservation work on the McCain and was removed on Saturday, two days before Trump delivered a Memorial Day address at U.S. Naval Base Yokosuka, where the McCain was stationed. All ships remained in normal configuration during [the President’s visit.Cmdr. Nate Christensen, spokesman for U.S. Pacific Fleet, to NBC News
Though the main components of the Wall Street Journal story appeared to have been debunked, the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman oddly tweeted out a statement that the Times had confirmed the Wall Street Journal’s “excellent scoop.”
The main part of the story that the Times seemed to have confirmed was that unnamed White House officials were concerned about Trump seeing the McCain name and that sailors wearing ball caps that sported the ship’s insignia were turned away.
However, CBS News pointed out that “it is possible the reason they were turned away is that ball caps were not part of the dress code for the event.”
U.S. officials said about 800 sailors from more than 20 ships and Navy commands were present for the president’s visit and “all wore the same Navy hat that has no logo, rather than wearing individual ship or command hats.”
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