Yes, President Trump goes overboard with his criticisms of the press -- sometimes in ways that have negative implications for the First Amendment -- but the media does itself no favors by letting its anti-Trump impulses stand in the way of accurate journalism. Too often, they confirm the gist of his "fake news" taunts. The crisis of trust that afflicts the American press deepens every time they blow a story, with ABC News providing a particularly egregious example on Friday. Correspondent Brian Ross has been suspended for misreporting the facts on an apparent bombshell scoop related to Trump and Russia, getting the single biggest detail of the story wrong. The untrue report remained uncorrected for hours, briefly tanking the market. Over the weekend, some other reporters and commentators decided to inflict further damage to media credibility by lazily or maliciously promulgating additional unfair and context-free attacks against Republicans.
If ABC's Russia debacle was exhibit A, let's discuss exhibit B. Numerous journalists and other liberals widely disseminated a terribly misleading soundbyte from Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, who just help shepherd the tax reform bill through the Senate. The narrative was too tempting: "GOP lawmaker gives giant tax cut to the rich (this is also a distortion unto itself), then admits he doesn't believe in giving needy children healthcare." Here's the alleged quote, first tweeted by an MSNBC host, then indignantly shared far and wide by scores of "blue checkmark" influencers:
Scarborough eventually deleted the tweet after racking up over 10,000 retweets, but defended his characterization of the quote, which is still just incorrect. Some journalists, including a few liberals, told the truth:
Oh for the love of God. Orrin Hatch did not say he wants to destroy and end CHIP. Watch the damn clip. https://t.co/mbYhS31CaY— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) December 3, 2017
Fair: He is pushing a large tax cut while complaining about not having any money. And Rs failed to extend CHIP when it expired Sept. 30.— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) December 3, 2017
Not fair: Hatch isn't saying they won't or shouldn't fund CHIP. He said they would and should and it's his bill.
Watch this. Hatch, who helped write CHIP, is pretty clear he supports it. His comment about people who don't help themselves, which I think is ugly in other ways, isn't about CHIP, it's about other spending he says (again, wrongly in my view) is starving CHIP. https://t.co/bE6V4LYgiC— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) December 3, 2017
Yep, watch the clip. He didn't say what they claimed he said, and he's the author of the bill they claimed or insinuated he doesn't support, based on that cherry-picked quote. Meanwhile, many in the media tripped all over themselves to amplify an out-of-context quote from an email in which former Trump administration national security aide and US ambassador-designate to Singapore KT McFarland supposedly "admitted" that the Russians had "thrown the election" to Trump. In fact, context strongly suggests that she was attributing that view...to Democrats:
.@McFaul See attached. As we said in the story, it’s no clear that she is saying she believed that election had been thrown. And WH lawyer in story said she was referring to how Dems portrayed it. pic.twitter.com/cjXNpCKIJO— Michael S. Schmidt (@nytmike) December 2, 2017
This cascade of dishonesty and errors set off an impassioned tweet storm from conservative journalist Tim Carney, who admonished fellow members of his profession that they're allowing their bias and eagerness to believe the worst about Trump and the GOP to imperil the institution of journalism:
Every one of you who misrepresented the KT McFarland quote. Every one of you who took Hatch out of context to make him say the opposite of what he was saying. You're killing our industry's credibility.— Tim Carney (@TPCarney) December 3, 2017
I made a handy flowchart to help you evaluate new federal laws. pic.twitter.com/LM6g0w158Q— Jason (@CounterMoonbat) December 2, 2017