OpEd by Brian Cates
On the night of Tuesday, August 27th MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell got himself a lot of national attention by dramatically revealing on his show, “The Last Word”, that he had a “source” who told him that Deutsche Bank had Donald Trump's tax records, and these records showed that Trump had co-signers for massive loans he'd taken out from various banks – and the kicker was that the co-signers were Russian oligarchs.
Not even 24 hours later, O'Donnell had walked back the claim in a most ignoble fashion. It turned out that O'Donnell's single solitary source had never seen any documents to support this claim.
As we survey the wreckage of this latest epic crash-and-burn by a prominent DNC Media outlet, let's ask why so many of these reporters end up stepping on the same rakes over and over again. Why do they continue regularly embarrassing themselves like this?
The answer is that these aren’t news reporters; these are political activists disguised as news reporters. A major sea change occurred at many news media outlets over the past 20 years, and it has driven many of the real journalists out of DNC Media outlets into other jobs.
Sharyl Attkisson is one of a dying breed: a real live actual investigative reporter. She no longer fits inside of what DNC Media has become, and so was shown the door at CBS. Lara Logan was another real reporter who suddenly found herself to be a fish out of water and also ended up unceremoniously departing CBS News.
As all the real reporters either left, retired or learned to play by the new rules, these media outlets essentially changed their nature.
The new breed of 'journalist' [who is really just a fake news political activist] doesn’t see their job as being presenting the news to you, although many of them will lie to you about this. They see their real job as being to help launch and then drive political narratives to achieve political effects. Such as helping to guide the outcome of elections, for instance.
The frequent and liberal use of anonymous sources is a key factor in both the launching and the maintenance of political narratives by the Fake News Media.
Anonymous sources never have to be replaced, upgraded or held accountable for getting it wrong. No matter how many times a source gives you bad or false or wrong information, as long as you keep that source anonymous, nobody knows if you’re going back to this source for your future stories.
I’m pretty sure O’Donnell plans on using this anonymous source again in the future, which is why he will zip his lip and not tell anybody who this single source was.
Reporters today aren’t following the old journalistic rules.
It used to be that stories would undergo a very rigorous verification process before they were published. It was standard practice to at least attempt to contact the subjects of a story for comment before running it. If mistakes were made, very public retractions/apologies would be made.
Today's news media has mostly ditched these rules.
They no longer seem to put any effort whatsoever into checking or verifying what their anonymous sources are telling them before they publish.
They no longer take the time to contact the people targeted by these stories to comment on what the anonymous sources are claiming.
They’re often not even bothering to issue corrections or retractions after the story blows up on them. Instead, everyone simply moves on to the next Fake News story making the same type of claims based on anonymous sources. Rinse and repeat, over and over.
It’s clear at this point these are not honest mistakes. This is a deliberate media strategy at work.
They don’t care about getting the stories right because the stories aren't really the point; the narrative the stories are being used to drive is the real point. The narrative is all that matters.
This latest Fake News story from O’Donnell about supposed “Russian co-signers of Trump’s loans” is designed to help keep the “Trump Is Owned by The Russians” narrative in play for this present news cycle of the week, nothing more. It doesn’t have be found true as long as it goes viral, which it immediately did, and that’s the point. That’s the MSM’s strategy.
There’s a tacit agreement in place by all involved here that nobody is going to be burned or held accountable when these anti-Trump stories fall apart. The source knows he/she won’t be held accountable. O’Donnell understands full well his bosses won’t hold him accountable. The important thing here is to keep the narrative afloat. To the players in these Fake News stories, this is all that really matters.
Especially in the last year the so called ‘real’ media has repeatedly beclowned itself with this kind of behavior. I’ve recounted these tales of hilarity in previous columns like these:
In many cases, not a single reporter or editor or anonymous source was held responsible for any of this fake news that has unfolded over the past three years as the “news media” has relentlessly driven this Trump/Russia narrative.
And this is because these media outlets fully intend to keep on using these exact same sources. There can’t be any accountability because it would expose the truth about what these media outlets have been doing.
Because you still don’t know who it was who fed the McClatchy reporters that song and dance about Cohen’s phone getting pinged in Prague, you can’t spot it when McClatchy or some other media outlet ends up using that same unreliable source for another “news” story.
Even in the extremely rare instances where there was some accountability in the past couple of years where reporters or editors were fired, demoted or reprimanded, the **sources** have always been protected.
When CNN fired three people over the Anthony Scaramucci fiasco, when Brian Ross got suspended at ABC News after botching a story about Lt. General Michael Flynn, the anonymous sources that were used to launch those Fake News stories were rigorously protected.
That’s because I’m quite sure DNC Media Complex “reporters” – with their eyes wide open – have since gone back to these same anonymous sources to get information to launch new anti-Trump propaganda stories disguised as news.
In going 'all in' to stop Trump, these dying Fake News Media organizations have absolutely shredded any remaining credibility they had left. And now people are tuning them out.
You can only cry “wolf!” so many times before even the most die-hard believers start realizing you are conning them.
Brian Cates is a writer based in South Texas and author of “Nobody Asked For My Opinion … But Here It Is Anyway!” He can be reached on Twitter @drawandstrike.