One Pulitzer prize later, media still unwilling to admit Russia-Gate failure

Daily Caller News Foundation

  • Media outlets are reluctant to admit any wrongdoing in their coverage regarding the narrative of collusion between former President Donald Trump and Russia in the 2016 election, according to a report by the Columbia Journalism Review. 
  • The New York Times and the Washington Post were both awarded a Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on Russian interference in the election, despite questions surrounding the legitimacy of some of the claims  made. 
  • “On the few occasions in which new information emerged that caused us to reexamine past reporting, we did so forthrightly,” the Post told CJR. 

Major media outlets that played a large role in pushing the Trump-Russia collusion narrative during the 2016 election have been hesitant to own up to conflicts of interest and misleading coverage after the story collapsed, according to the Columbia Journalism Review.

In 2022, the media received one of the lowest credibility ratings at 26%; in 2021, 83% of Americans stated that they believe “fake news” is a serious problem that needs addressing, one such example being the Russia-Trump collusion story, according to CJR. Seven years later, outlets including the New York Times and the Washington Post are still reluctant to fully acknowledge their role in pushing “misleading” and sometimes false information to further the idea that Trump was in bed with the Russians.

“We approached this line of coverage with care and a great sense of responsibility,” the Post told CJR. “On the few occasions in which new information emerged that caused us to reexamine past reporting, we did so forthrightly.”

In 2018, the Post and the Times were awarded a Pulitzer prize for their coverage of Russian interference in the 2016 election, but large portions of their coverage have come under scrutiny, according to CJR. However, both outlets would later be criticized for disparities found in their reporting.

One such piece includes the Times’ article about former Trump aide George Papadopoulos’ meeting with Joseph Mifsud, a UK academic, who Papadopoulos claimed had “substantial connections” to the Russian government, according to CJR.

The Times claimed that it had reached out to Mifsud and that he did not respond, even though Mifsud had denied the claims of Russian government connections to several journalists from the U.S., Britain and Italy, according to CJR. Meanwhile, the Post was forced to retract significant portions of an article after the FBI indicted Igor Danchenko, an analyst who worked on the Steele dossier, for lying about where he got the information he gave to Christopher Steele, the former MI6 operative and author of the dossier after former President Donald Trump threatened to sue Pulitzer for the 2018 award to the Times and the Post.

Sally Buzbee, executive director of the Post, stated that the article on Steele’s dossier was not listed in the coverage for the Pulitzer, according to CJR, and noted that the outlet’s reporting of  “contacts between certain members of Trump’s administration and Russian officials had been affirmed” by the Mueller report.

The Post, when asked about their coverage of Trump, Russia and the election, cited their Pulitzer prize, saying they were “proud” of the coverage that they provide of “Russian interference” and the “2016 campaign, according to CJR. The Times gave a similar response, saying that the publication’s reporting on the “foreign manipulation of the 2016 election” faithfully “pursued credible claims, fact-checked, edited and ultimately produced groundbreaking journalism that was proven true and true again.”

Additionally, of more than 60 journalists that reported on the Russia story, according to CJR, less than half responded and not a single major media outlet provided a response from a “newsroom leader.”

The Post and the Times did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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