The Mainstream Media Treatment of Trump and Russia Smacks of Fake News

By Steve Berman Published on February 16, 2017

When the main stream media rely on anonymous sources, friendly relationships with current and former government officials, and recycling previously reported stories to promote an agenda, readers are right to suspect a set up.

We expect less from outlets like the Gateway Pundit, who rely on hyper-sensationalized headlines and slanted, even made-up, stories to generate clicks to their websites. The public demands, and serious consumers of news expect, a higher standard from established newspapers and cable news operations.

Instead, we get stories that are so selective, and so coordinated, as to constitute a subtler form of fake news. At the moment, the media have latched on to anything remotely related to Russia to tarnish the Trump administration, especially in the wake of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s resignation as National Security Adviser.

The flood of weakly-related and even unsupported Russia stories smacks of a partisan effort to destroy the Trump administration, not an objective search for truth.

For example, CNN is still recycling reports about the evidence-starved Russian “dossier” that had been examined by the intelligence community and the press for months before Buzzfeed dumped them on its website in early January. The New York Times and CNN took Buzzfeed to task for publishing the unverified reports; but they are still being cited.

Another example is this breathless reporting of Russian cruise missiles.

The New York Times and Washington Post, along with CNN have all written similar stories about the Russian deployment of the ground-launched cruise missile known as the SSC-8, which is a violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The INF treaty was signed in 1987 by President Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev of the former USSR. It bans ground-launched cruise missiles with a range between 300 and 3400 miles.

The Russians first tested the SSC-8 in 2008. President Obama’s administration declared Russia in violation of the INF treaty in 2014. Do you have any memory of that? Probably not. But suddenly, this is a front-burner issue, because it provides yet another chance to connect Russia with Donald Trump.

A third example is the Russian spy ship sighted off the U.S. eastern seaboard. How is this news? The Russians have for years deployed spy ships to America’s Atlantic coast and the Caribbean. It’s only top news because … well, you know why.

In reality, there is no “crisis” with Russia that didn’t exist before the Trump administration. There are no “new” facts relating to U.S.-Russian relations since Trump took office.

Flynn’s downfall was hurried along by leaks of highly classified information within the Trump administration of telephone intercept transcripts of a call between Flynn and the Russian ambassador. Yes, the call took place, but it now appears the details discussed on the call were innocuous. But again, the use of anonymous sources, who may have an axe to grind with Trump, and the selective reporting of details, is at best editorializing, not fair reporting.

Bloomberg reported Tuesday that there’s evidence of a pattern in the media reports:

Representative Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told me Monday that he saw the leaks about Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak as part of a pattern. “There does appear to be a well orchestrated effort to attack Flynn and others in the administration,” he said. “From the leaking of phone calls between the president and foreign leaders to what appears to be high-level FISA Court information, to the leaking of American citizens being denied security clearances, it looks like a pattern.”

This confluence of government leaks, anonymous sources, hyper-sensational headlines, and unsupported stories does nothing to contradict Trump’s accusations that the media is engaged in reporting “fake news.” If the media don’t want the Trump administration to treat them as the opposition, then they need to quit playing the role of opposition so blatantly.

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