by Sharyl Attkisson of Sharylattkisson.com
We the media have “fact-checked” President Trump like we have fact-checked no other human being on the planet—and he’s certainly given us plenty to write about. That’s probably why it’s so easy to find lists enumerating and examining his mistakes, missteps and “lies.”
But as self-appointed arbiters of truth, we’ve largely excused our own unprecedented string of fact-challenged reporting. The truth is, formerly well-respected, top news organizations are making repeat, unforced errors in numbers that were unheard of just a couple of years ago.
Our repeat mistakes involve declaring that Trump’s claims are “lies” when they are matters of opinion, or when the truth between conflicting sources is unknowable; taking Trump’s statements and events out of context; reporting secondhand accounts against Trump without attribution as if they’re established fact; relying on untruthful, conflicted sources; and presenting reporter opinions in news stories—without labeling them as opinions.
What’s worse, we defend ourselves by trying to convince the public that our mistakes are actually a virtue because we (sometimes) correct them. Or we blame Trump for why we’re getting so much wrong. It’s a little bit like a police officer taking someone to jail for DUI, then driving home drunk himself: he may be correct to arrest the suspect, but he should certainly know better than to commit the same violation.
So since nobody else has compiled an updated, extensive list of this kind, here are:
50 Notable Mistakes and Missteps in Major Media Reporting on Donald Trump
1. Aug. 2016-Nov. 2016:
The New York Post published modeling photos of Trump’s wife Melania and reported they were taken in 1995. Various news outlets relied on that date to imply that Melania—an immigrant—had violated her visa status. But the media got the date wrong. Politico was among the news agencies that later issued a photo date correction.
2. Oct. 1, 2016:
The New York Times and other media widely suggested or implied that Trump had not paid income taxes for 18 years. Later, tax return pages leaked to MSNBC ultimately showed that Trump actually paid a higher rate than Democrats Bernie Sanders and President Obama.
3. Oct. 18, 2016:
In a Washington Post piece not labelled opinion or analysis, Stuart Rothenberg reported that Trump’s path to an electoral college victory was “nonexistent.”
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:
Early on election night, the Detroit Free Press called the state of Michigan for Hillary Clinton. Trump actually won Michigan.
6. Jan. 20, 2017:
CNN claimed Nancy Sinatra was “not happy” at her father’s song being used at Trump’s inauguration. Sinatra responded, “That’s not true. I never said that. Why do you lie, CNN?…Actually I’m wishing him the best.”
Nancy Sinatra via Twitter
7. Jan. 20, 2017:
Zeke Miller of TIME reported that President Trump had removed the bust statue of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office. The news went viral. It was false.
8. Jan. 26, 2017:
Josh Rogin of the Washington Post reported that the State Department’s “entire senior administrative team” had resigned in protest of Trump. A number of media outlets ranging from politically left to right, including liberal-leaning Vox, stated that claim was misleading or wrong.
9. Jan. 28, 2017
CNBC’s John Harwood reported the Justice Department “had no input” on Trump’s immigration executive order. After a colleague contradicted Harwood’s report, he amended it to reflect that Justice Department lawyers reportedly had reviewed Trump’s order.
10. Jan. 31, 2017:
CNN’s Jeff Zeleny reported the White House set up Twitter accounts for two judges to try to keep Trump’s selection for Supreme Court secret. Zeleny later corrected his report to state that the Twitter accounts had not been set up by the White House.