They’re reaching. They’re really reaching.
The Washington Post’s attempt to turn a 2016 joke into a scoop prompted laughter and derision on social media, and even had CNN and far-left Salon scratching their heads.
The Post reported on a leak Wednesday that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy “made a politically explosive assertion” that then-presidential candidate Donald Trump had accepted funds from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“There’s two people I think Putin pays: [Rep. Dana] Rohrabacher and Trump,” the California Republican joked during a private June 15 meeting with other GOP leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
The full relevant exchange, according to The Post, was:
McCarthy: The Russians hacked the DNC and got the opp [sic] research that they had on Trump.
Ryan: The Russian’s [sic] hacked the DNC…
McHenry: …to get oppo…
Ryan: …on Trump and like delivered it to…to who?
McCarthy: There’s…there’s two people, I think, Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump…[laughter]…swear to God.
Ryan: This is an off the record…[laughter]…NO LEAKS…[laughter]…alright?! [Laughter]
Ryan: This is how we know we’re a real family here.
Despite the “laughter,” the story was circulated though social media and taken literally until McCarthy confirmed it nothing more than an “attempt at a bad joke.”
NBC News reached out to McCarthy, who confirmed it was all in jest.
VIDEO: Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy says the WashPost story on Trump/Putin $ was bad attempt at a joke pic.twitter.com/RdH8ezZNIK
— Alex Moe (@AlexNBCNews) May 17, 2017
Ryan counselor Brendan Buck said no one took McCarthy’s comments seriously — seriously, it was a joke, people!
Yes, this is dumb. He was just kidding. No one took it seriously. https://t.co/CguAAzid66
— Brendan Buck (@BrendanBuck) May 17, 2017
The Post later added that “It is difficult to tell from the recording the extent to which the remarks were meant to be taken literally.” Really? The transcript is replete with laughter, suggesting they were just having fun, letting off steam, and not making “a politically explosive assertion.”
Accordingly, Townhall political editor and frequent Fox News contributor Guy Benson tweeted:
Three mentions of laughter in a very short passage. So maybe not a super-serious “bombshell” allegation? pic.twitter.com/29uLpdn7Xh
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) May 17, 2017
Nonetheless, the best evidence that the guys were cracking jokes would be the actual recording — not a transcript. However, The Post hasn’t released the recording, possibly to keep the name of the person who recorded and leaked it secret. That person’s voice would obviously be louder and more distinct, assuming the recording device would be closer to him.
Reaction from social media was predictable. Most reactions were dismissive.
Wake up right! Receive our free morning news blast HERE
@BreitbartNews If thats all they got then there is come serious lunacy
— Michael Collins (@Way_of_The_Gun) May 17, 2017
— Still here dancing (@ash_epp) May 17, 2017
@BreitbartNews Poor Journalism! The Tabloids Papers of the new Millennium
— Mickey Kay Troxell (@Mickeykt) May 17, 2017
— Celtic Crab (@crabbydick) May 17, 2017
But equally predictable there were those who cried conspiracy and wanted to believe McCarthy was serious then, but lying now.
@AlexNBCNews Why did Ryan tell them to keep it in the family? No leaks? LIES!!!!!!!!!!!!
— Whatever (@JWCjwc69) May 17, 2017
@AlexNBCNews When Shit Hitting The Fan is magical.
— Flo (@flobabyK) May 17, 2017
— Robert Rikard (@rgrikard) May 17, 2017
— Mark J. Sternfels (@GrillMarks) May 17, 2017
— Jaxs (@jaxsblax) May 17, 2017
Perhaps it’s time for everyone to remove their tin-foil hats and smell reality. It’s also time for The Post to fact-check itself in the interest of accurate reporting — and then award itself five Pinocchios.
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