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Wa-Po columnist demands CNN retract false claim that Steele dossier had been ‘partly corroborated’

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Much to its credit, The Washington Post has sought to correct its false reporting on the now thoroughly debunked Steele dossier. Even more to its credit, the left-wing paper has also demanded that other mainstream establishment outlets do the same.

But one outlet, CNN, has reportedly refused to budge, instead choosing to double down on information that has been confirmed to be patently false.

Writing for the Post on Friday, the paper’s media critic, Erik Wemple, began by laying out the relevance of special prosecutor John Durham’s indictment of Igor Danchenko, whom he described as “the primary source for the discredited Trump-Russia dossier compiled in 2016 by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele.”

“The [indictment] document, which stems from special counsel John Durham’s probe into the Russia investigation, alleged that Danchenko lied to the FBI about interactions with sources as he gathered material for Steele,” Wemple correctly noted.

He continued by admitting that CNN did briefly cover Danchenko’s indictment … by essentially downplaying it as a nothing burger, claiming that an indictment for lying “is not the type of thing that is necessarily rocking,” as one host had put it.

(Incidentally, the network’s hosts weren’t so blase about Trump allies Michael Flynn and Roger Stone also allegedly lying to the FBI.)

Missing from CNN’s reporting on Danchenko’s indictment, Wemple continued, was the “self-examination and self-critique” practiced by his own employer.

This was a notable omission given that he, Wemple, has “chronicled numerous” examples of CNN portraying the dossier as a document of truth.

“A typical one came from host Don Lemon in November 2017: ‘Listen, so we haven’t reported here on CNN the salacious details of that dossier, but much of the dossier has been corroborated,'” he explained.

Lemon’s own false claim was based on the “reporting” of CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Perez and CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto.

In a February 2017 report, the pair claimed “that U.S. investigators had ‘corroborated some of the communications’ in the dossier,” according to Wemple.

“The dossier details about a dozen conversations between senior Russian officials and other Russian individuals. Sources would not confirm which specific conversations were intercepted or the content of those discussions due to the classified nature of US intelligence collection programs,” the piece itself reads.

“But the intercepts do confirm that some of the conversations described in the dossier took place between the same individuals on the same days and from the same locations as detailed in the dossier, according to the officials. CNN has not confirmed whether any content relates to then-candidate Trump,” it continues.

As of Nov. 13th, the piece still remained up with no corrections.

(Source: CNN)

According to Wemple, this report “served as a springboard for broader expressions of confidence in Steele’s work,” with anchor Wolf Blitzer claiming months later in June of that year that CNN “has corroborated some elements of that dossier.”

“A lot has been verified,” anchor John Vause reiterated the following year.

It seems, Wemple noted, that perhaps CNN should retract some of this given Danchenko’s indictment, though he accurately pointed out that the truth about the dossier has, in fact, been known since at least 2019.

“[T]he December 2019 report of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz indicated that the FBI had concluded the dossier was a mostly a compendium of inaccurate, unconfirmed and already public claims,” he wrote.

Thus, the indictment was simply the icing on the cake.

Yet when asked by Wemple whether it continues to stand by its “corroboration” reporting, the network reportedly refused to respond, meaning it presumably still sticks by its claim, made last year, that its reporting on “the dossier has been consistent since day one.”

Fair enough, Wemple sarcastically argued.

“Consistent? Yes, to its credit, CNN covered the Danchenko indictment with a smattering of reports last Thursday. There was also a CNN.com piece. By contrast, the ‘corroboration’ story of February 2017 received saturation coverage at a network programmed to hype all Trump-related items. That brand of asymmetry helps explain why many people mistrust CNN,” he wrote.

It’s true that CNN’s trust and ratings have been on a steady decline. Some would argue it’s because the network’s hosts and ostensible “journalists” sound more like Joy Behar, a cocky, opinionated woman with a talk show, than people interested in the truth.

Last week, for instance, host Brianna Keilar kept stating with 100 percent confidence that critical race theory isn’t being taught in Virginia schools — and refused to budge even slightly, no matter how much evidence Sen. Rick Scott presented to her.

Watch:

This sort of closed-minded “analysis,” “reporting” and refusal to consider rebutting arguments — even when they’re 100 percent accurate — doesn’t seem to be serving the network well, as Wemple hinted at in his own report …

Vivek Saxena

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