How the media is destroying its own credibility

Becket Adams:
The press' credibility problem took a turn for the worse this year.

Chalk it up to bias, sloppiness, or sheer panic in response to the election of Donald Trump, but the bottom line for 2017 is that there was a shocking decline in the quality and reliability of political journalism.

Instead of adjusting adeptly to Trump's easy relationship with the truth and his tendency to abuse members of the news media, a significant number of political journalists and commentators tripped over themselves to repeat every bit of gossip, thinly sourced claim and half-cocked rumor.

These stories fell short of the most basic function of political journalism in that they failed to provide readers with a clear and indisputably accurate picture of what is really going on at the White House and Congress. These botched reports also further diminished the public's already dwindling trust in the press.

This isn't to say all coverage of the Trump administration was trash. Rather, it's to say an unusually large number of 2017 stories, tweets and headlines turned out either to be overhyped, inconclusive, misleading, half-true, or flat-out false.

Starting in order of most recent, here is our catalogue of this year's shoddiest political reporting beginning Jan. 20, 2017:

Dec. 26: Stop Making Fund of Me

The Claim: Republicans funded the Trump-Russia dossier.

The Source: CNN's Evan Perez.

The Facts: GOP donor Paul Singer contracted Fusion GPS via the Washington Free Beacon during the 2016 primaries to perform opposition research on Trump and the other Republican candidates. The research that was done for that specific project is ultimately unrelated to the so-called "Russia dossier."

Dec. 21: Dismissed!

The Claim: A judge has dismissed a suit accusing President Trump of profiting through his office, ruling that the president had not violated the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The Source: The New York Times.

The Facts: The judge didn't quite clear Trump of the charges. Rather, the judge said he found the plaintiffs lacked standing. It's a small thing, and this isn't really a major mistake on the Times' part. That said, the reason this since-corrected misfire is so notable is because it stands as one of the extremely rare examples of a media misstep that favored Trump.

Dec. 19: Begging the Begin

The Claim: The GOP "begged" Democrats to work with them on tax reform, according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

The Source: A headline published by the Hill.

The Facts: She said no such thing. Rather, Sanders said Democrats should have been "begging" the GOP to work with them on the bill.
There is much more in the long piece and it probably only scratches the surface. 

I think they could do a separate story on just the errant media "fact checks."


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