ANATOMY OF A FAKE NEWS BOMBSHELL: WAPO AND PHILIP BUMP CAUGHT PEDDLING FICTITIOUS FACTS ON RUSSIAN CONTACT WITH JEFF SESSIONS - ASSIST FROM ABC NEWS IN BURYING SESSIONS’ PUBLIC DISCLOSURE PRIOR TO SENATE TESTIMONY.
The fraudulent story broke in the Washington Post on March 1, 2017 with the following headline: “Sessions met with Russian envoy twice last year, encounters he later did not disclose.” Despite the rabid attention this received by virtually every major news outlet, the WAPO headline is utterly fake according to a little known - but crucial – fact, apparently sourced to a Department of Justice contact by ABC News on March 2nd.
Unfortunately, it now appears that the ABC news team conspired to bury this crucial fact with intentionally deceptive writing and a complete lack of analysis.
Had anyone in the media stopped hyperventilating long enough to do their job properly, rational consideration of the obscured ABC bombshell fact would have killed the story dead on arrival, no later than March 3rd. AG Sessions’ premature recusal may never have happened, a terrible blight on his reputation could have been avoided, and the integrity of the Office of the Attorney General would have been protected.
As the nation is well aware of by now, Jeff Sessions had two contacts with Russian Ambassador Kislyak, an informal meet and greet after Sessions gave a speech at a side event of the RNC Convention on July 20, 2016, and a formal meeting in his Senate Office with Kislyak on Sept, 8, 2016. Then, on Jan. 10, 2016, Sessions testified before the Senate for his confirmation as Attorney General, where he told Sen. Franken he had no communications with the Russians in replying to a question specifically concerned with alleged Trump Campaign connections to Russia.
WAPO then set off the fake firestorm on March 1st, alleging - in the headline quoted above - that Sessions failed to disclose the meetings prior to his Senate testimony. However, we now know – according to ABC News – that Sessions did, in fact, list the Sept. 8 official meeting with the Russian envoy on his public schedule.
WAPO followed the fugazi story up on March 2d with more fakery, publishing bogus analysis by Philip Bump that falsely indicated Sessions met the Russian envoy on July 18th, at a different side event where the hot topic was Russian diplomacy and the Ukraine.
We now know that Bump’s analysis and facts were wrong, and also that he had absolutely no reason to believe his report was ever based in truth. The back-to-back fraudulent WAPO pieces ignited a firestorm that led to calls for Sessions to resign and also for him to be prosecuted for perjury. Now we shall dismantle this fake news story, brick by brick.
1. The September 8TH meeting with Russian Ambassador Kislyak was previously disclosed on Senator Sessions’ public schedule.
On March 2, 2017, a report, published at 12:31 AM by Pierre Thomas (Senior Justice Correspondent for ABC News) and Adam Kelsey, indicated that Sessions had disclosed the Sept 8 meeting in his public schedule. Incredibly, the previous public disclosure - a crucial fact - still remains hidden to the public as the entire press corps in analyzing the issue soundly ignored it.
This is largely the result of reporters Thomas and Kelsey having conveniently muddied their story up as the fire was kindling across the nation in the public conscience. This is how the ABC news team put it out there in the wee hours of March 2d:
Notice that the crucial fact is not sourced to anyone. So it’s fair to assume one or both of the ABC reporters saw the schedule for themselves. It's not entirely clear from their report whether the meeting was disclosed by Sessions in his public schedule, or by Kislyak in his.
This confusion - and lack of any analysis whatsoever - obscured the crucial fact, allowing the story to fester throughout the March 1-2 news cycle. Had anyone stopped to consider that the Sept. 8 meeting had been disclosed on a public schedule prior to the Jan. 10th confirmation hearing, then there would have been no sensational – previously undisclosed – cloak and dagger headlines possible.
The unseemly plot truly thickens later that evening. At 9:30 PM, on March 2d, about 21 hours after Pierre Thomas and Adam Kelsey first nebulously reported the crucial fact; fellow ABC News reporters Meghan Keneally and Mike Levine provided more details: