Fake News Redux

How does one unlie?

In December 2020 President Trump made a call to Georgia state election officials urging them to scrutinize votes in Fulton County.  Trump expressed legitimate concerns about election honesty and expressed his opinion that a thorough review would prove that he had been cheated out of a win.  The Georgia Secretary of State’s office secretly recorded the conversation, and then an official in that office mischaracterized its contents to the Washington Post.  Later there was an apparent attempt to delete the recording.

The Washington Post, with a built-in bias against the President, apparently made little attempt to verify the accuracy of the Georgia official’s report, and the newspaper published it under glaring headlines.   Trump was said to have demanded that the Georgia official “find the fraud” and say that the investigator would be a national hero if she did.  As the phone call was described, it appeared that the President had exerted intense, improper pressure on the Georgia official.

This story spread like wildfire through the liberal media, and it was used by Trump’s many critics to further damn him and scream for his impeachment. The incident was cited as one more example of Trump’s arrogant refusal to accept legitimate election results. In Georgia, there were charges that Trump had illegally interfered with a criminal investigation.

In early March, a recording of the President’s phone call was found in the trash file on the Georgia Secretary of State’s office computer. After its release,  the Washington Post felt obliged to release a correction to its original story.  They admitted that Trump did not tell the investigator to “find the fraud” or say she would be a national hero if she did so.  Instead, he urged her to scrutinize ballots in Fulton County, believing that she would find serious dishonesty there. Also, the investigator said that she experienced no undue pressure from the call.  The Post blamed its source for the incorrect information.  Of course, it is a newspaper’s responsibility to thoroughly vet it sources and seek corroboration, especially when dealing with such a highly volatile political report.

Unlike the original story.  The Washington Post’s correction received little notice.  The damage had been done.

This is another example of how the news is often twisted.  What news reports can we trust?  

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