While O’Donnell Retraction Wasn’t A Knockout Blow To The Mainstream Media, It Delivered A Humiliating Kick In The Groin

On Tuesday night, MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell told his viewers that President Trump’s Deutsche Bank loans had been co-signed by Russian oligarchs and that Trump’s tax returns showed he paid little or no income taxes. He had learned this information from “a source.” Further, O’Donnell said, “If true, that would be a significant factor in Vladimir Putin’s publicly stated preference for presidential candidate Donald Trump over presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.”

On Wednesday, it was learned that O’Donnell’s single source had not actually viewed the loan documents.

MSNBC producer Michael Del Moro tweeted that O’Donnell’s reporting had come “from a single source who has not yet seen the bank records. NBC has not seen those records and has not yet been able to verify the reporting.”

So, why then, if his single source had not even viewed the loan documents, did O’Donnell report it?

On Wednesday morning, President Trump’s attorney sent a brutal letter to NBC Universal’s top brass (which can be viewed here) demanding that both O’Donnell and NBCU “immediately and prominently retract, correct and apologize for the aforementioned false and defamatory statements.”

O’Donnell quickly retracted his statement and promised to address the issue on his show that evening.

He wrote:

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.

Does MSNBC even have a rigorous verification and standards process?

Nevertheless, he issued an apology on his program which can be viewed in the video below.

There were two problems with O’Donnell’s statement.

First, he said, “I should not have said it on air or posted it on twitter. I was wrong to do so.” However, O’Donnell’s original tweet in which he reports the unvetted information remains up on his twitter page. If he shouldn’t have posted it, why hasn’t he deleted it?

Additionally, he failed to say the information was inaccurate. He concluded his apology by saying, “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.” So, he still leaves the story “out there” in viewers’ minds.

Consider how many times pundits and politicians have reported unvetted rumors as news for which they were not called out?

Rachel Maddow did this on a nightly basis for nearly three years. Multiply her contribution by thousands of reporters, talk-show hosts, columnists and Democratic politicians and one begins to understand how the Russian collusion story was kept alive for so long.

How many times did Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) appear on CNN claiming he had solid evidence that Trump colluded with Russians? Now that this narrative has been debunked, we should ask him to provide the material he based his statements on.

Trump’s immediate action to O’Donnell’s smear must serve as a watershed in the fight against the mainstream media. It should be used as a “road map” for handling future political attacks.

  1. Identify the smear.
  2. Demand evidence.
  3. Threaten legal action.
  4. Extract apology and retraction.
  5. Witness perpetrator’s humiliation.

O’Donnell’s humiliation won’t long be forgotten. It will be right up there with Rathergate, when CBS’s Dan Rather presented documents that criticized President George W. Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard. Several of those documents turned out to have been forged.

If we needed additional confirmation of how the left promotes a narrative, New York Times‘ Executive Editor Dean Baquet provided it when the leaked transcript of his staff address was released. He essentially told his employees, ‘Okay troops, now we’re going to pivot from the phony Russian collusion story to the Trump is a racist story. Oh, and we’re also going to rewrite US history.’

The Wall Street Journal’s Holman Jenkins, Jr. wrote a column about Baquet’s debacle and the mainstream media’s role as the “propaganda arm” of the Democratic Party. He wrote:

The Times sees its job as imposing a “narrative” (a word he used repeatedly) on the world rather than listening to what the world teaches. After the Russia collusion fiasco, you might think an order of business would be finding out how our politics came to be so roiled by fabricated allegations. All too plainly, Mr. Baquet seemed to suggest that the Times, having failed to deliver the Russia story its readers wanted, must now deliver the Trump racism story they want. “Our readers who want Donald Trump to go away suddenly thought, ‘Holy [bleep], Bob Mueller is not going to do it.’ ”

Is Mr. Trump a racist? I don’t know. Are you? What I do know, and what’s apparent to everyone, is the existence of powerful incentives in American life to level such charges, indeed a delight in doing so.

The O’Donnell and Banquet stories have handed a win to conservatives. And while neither supplied a knockout blow to the mainstream media, each certainly delivered a humiliating kick in the groin.