CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy tried to spin the failure of fellow “journalist” Lawrence O’Donnell as proof of the president’s ongoing war with the truth and trustworthy news outlets like MSNBC. Unfortunately for him, Twitter users just weren’t buying it.
O’Donnell originally claimed to have a source proving that some of President Donald Trump’s loans were co-signed by Russians earlier this week.
The MSNBC host’s attempt to give the dead Trump-Russia collusion narrative CPR failed even the most basic fact checks, and O’Donnell was forced to retract his claims less than 24 hours later.
Last night I made an error in judgment by reporting an item about the president’s finances that didn’t go through our rigorous verification and standards process. I shouldn’t have reported it and I was wrong to discuss it on the air. I will address the issue on my show tonight.
— Lawrence O’Donnell (@Lawrence) August 28, 2019
Trump took the opportunity to call this failure out for what it was: “totally inaccurate reporting,” and indicative of the typical thinly sourced anti-Trump hit pieces to come from mainstream media establishments.
This was all Darcy needed to try to spin the whole mess as proof of Trump’s anti-journalism bias.
“This is why @Lawrence’s irresponsible actions are so damaging,” he tweeted. “Obviously there’s a big difference between O’Donnell and the rest of press. But that’s not how Trump will frame it. And many will walk away with the impression that a news anchor (not opinion host) slandered POTUS.”
This is why @Lawrence’s irresponsible actions are so damaging. Obviously there’s a big difference between O’Donnell and the rest of press. But that’s not how Trump will frame it. And many will walk away with the impression that a news anchor (not opinion host) slandered POTUS. https://t.co/OZJqCQHhp2
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) August 29, 2019
Of course, not everyone bought Darcy’s claim that the president is maliciously framing this seemingly innocent mistake to slander journalists nationwide.
There is precisely 0 difference between O’Donnell and the rest of the press.
— Phil (@philllosoraptor) August 29, 2019
His actions would only be uniquely damaging if they were unique. You speak as if CNN, WaPo, and the rest haven’t engaged in repeated irresponsible actions of a similar kind since 2016. Lawrence isn’t even the tip of the iceberg.
— Bricolage (@Bricola05419227) August 29, 2019
A big difference with the rest of the biased press? I have lost count at the number of mistakes. Can’t pretend this is a one time thing. And you are right – press keeps giving Trump ammo everytime they make a mistake. Mainstream media has a huge perception problem.
— Purveyor Of Logic (@commanderdata85) August 29, 2019
Although O’Donnell did retract his story, he found a way to keep this smear alive.
“This afternoon, attorneys for the president sent us a letter asserting the story is false,” he said Wednesday night on “The Last Word.” “They also demanded a retraction. Tonight, we are retracting the story.
“We don’t know whether the information is inaccurate. But the fact is we do know it wasn’t ready for broadcast, and for that I apologize.”
Although O’Donnell insists media giant MSNBC is unable to verify whether his single source’s information was inaccurate, Trump’s legal team made it clear that this should have been remarkably easy to fact-check.
“These statements are false and defamatory, and extremely damaging. The only borrowers under these loans are Trump entities, and Mr. Trump is the only guarantor,” a letter from Trump’s attorneys read, according to Fox News.
“Numerous documents for each of these loans are also recorded, publicly available and searchable online. Thus, actual malice can easily be proven based on your reckless disregard of the truth and unreasonable reliance on an alleged ‘source’ who you will not even identify in your story and likely is seeking to mislead you and the public for political reasons or other ulterior motives,” the scorching letter continued.
Things aren’t looking any brighter for O’Donnell and his team, despite his apology and support from his colleagues. According to the president’s son Eric Trump, this baseless smear will end in a court of law.
“This was a reckless attempt to slander our family and smear a great company. Apologies are not enough when the true intent was solely to damage and cause harm. As a company, we will be taking legal action,” Eric Trump tweeted. “This unethical behavior has to stop.”
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