The New York Times has made it their norm to use confidential sources to attack President Trump. It helps them construct their narrative that Trump is so bad, even his employees and subordinates are leaking state secrets. That there has been a “deep state” conspiracy against President Trump is now an open secret, based on the Mueller Report conclusions.
Confidential sources carry much risk. Readers cannot weigh any personal, political, or other bias of the source. So readers have to assume that reporters properly and professionally vet the sources, an assumption that is very likely untrue given the bias in media coverage. We know that at least some reporters feel that professionalism is not as important as having political change. So reporting against the President using confidential sources is suspect. But what today’s article describes is much worse.
The recent Times story says that the summary Attorney General Barr wrote when he sent the conclusions of the Mueller Report to Congress takes it too easy on President Trump. This is based on what some Mueller investigators (most of whom are highly partisan) told associates, who then spoke with the Times reporters. How many investigators felt that Attorney General Barr was misleading the public with his conclusions is unknown, and based on this chain of knowledge, it could be zero. Perhaps the “associates” misunderstood what was said, and in any case, the reporter evidently didn’t talk with the Mueller investigator directly, so had no way to independently test or confirm any of the information. Thus, this isn’t an example of a “confidential” source, it is a third-hand confidential source.
A confidential source is problematic, but a once-removed confidential source is 10x worse.
Today’s update on the Barr summary is another examples of biased journalism, this time labeling President Trump’s reaction to the NYT reporting as “false.”
“Trump attacked the article, falsely asserting on Twitter that Times reporters relied on ‘no legitimate sources,’ a longstanding tactic of his to try to dismiss news reports that portray him negatively.” Is what President Trump asserted “false”? Did the New York Times take a step too far in reporting on what a Mueller investigator allegedly told a source who then spoke to the Times?
Or, more likely, did the Times story confirm with the Mueller investigator who wished to remain in the background, because such a leak would not only undermine the Trump criticism but would implicate the Mueller Team in a partisan Witch Hunt?
Either way, the Times did not act professionally, and the Globe/Times published a biased piece by unfairly labeling Trump’s criticism as false.
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