The Guardian faced an embarrassing screw up by running an article asserting that President Donald Trump’s former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, met with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange around the same time he was brought on to the Trump campaign in 2016.
No exact date was given, but we were assured this meeting happened and that this was the smoking gun the media knew was out there to prove Trump colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election.
"Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and visited around the time he joined Trump’s campaign, The Guardian has been told," the outlet reported. "Sources have said Manafort went to see Assange in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016 – during the period when he was made a key figure in Trump’s push for the White House. ... A well-placed source has told The Guardian that Manafort went to see Assange around March 2016. Months later WikiLeaks released a stash of Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers."
The story started falling apart shortly after the left-leaning media collectively accepted it as fact. After publication, Wikileaks called one of the article’s authors a “serial fabricator” and said it was “willing to bet The Guardian a million dollars and its editor's head that Manafort never met Assange."
Manafort also denied the meeting and said he was “considering all legal options against The Guardian who proceeded with this story even after being notified by my representatives that it was false."
Now the rest of the media is trying to cover its uncritical acceptance of The Guardian’s report. The Washington Post questioned The Guardian’s report on Tuesday, but continued to write 2,000 words on “what it would mean” if it were true. Was there ever such an example during the Obama administration of the media questioning a report that would hurt the administration but then acting as if it were true — because they wanted it to be true?
Now Politico is trying to cover for The Guardian authors — Dan Collyns and Luke Harding — by suggesting the story was “planted.” Politico imagines several scenarios of how this could have happened:
“If this latest story about Manafort and Assange is false—that is, if, for example, the sources lied to Harding and Collyns (or if the sources themselves were lied to and thus thought they were being truthful in their statements to the journalists), or if the Ecuadorian intelligence document is a fake, the most logical explanation is that it is an attempt to make Harding look bad. This, in turn, would call into question any of Harding’s past reporting and could be raised any time someone mentions his reporting as evidence of wrongdoing.”
Politico’s suggestions all suggest the reporters were duped. Nowhere do they accept that maybe, just maybe, Harding and Collyns really are bad journalists who so wanted to prove Trump is guilty of collusion that they will listen to anyone who offers information that supports their narrative.