In another example of why Americans increasingly distrust the establishment media to present factually sound, unbiased news, NPR published a report Friday claiming that Donald Trump Jr.'s testimony to Congress conflicted with the current claims of Michael Cohen about the "Moscow Trump Tower" deal discussions taking place in 2016.
After a number of reporters from various outlets called out NPR for reporting what was a verifiably false claim, the network finally issued a correction and deleted its original tweet — but not before the false report had permeated social media and made its way to CNN.
Among the reporters who caught NPR peddling the falsehood were The Washington Post's Phillip Bump and The Federalist's Sean Davis and Mollie Hemingway, whose posts were highlighted by Twitchy, among others.
"This NPR story appears to be wrong. It notes that Trump Jr. told a Senate committee that a deal in Moscow died of 'deal fatigue' by 2014," Bump explained. "But that was a deal with the Agalarovs. He was also asked if a deal was in the works in 2015/2016 and said yes."
"This entire story is a lie," wrote Davis. "Trump, Jr. was explicitly asked whether the Trump Organization was pursuing a plan to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow in 2016. His answer: 'Yes.' He even offered to give the 2015 LOI signed by Trump to Judiciary investigators."
"This story is completely wrong, as shown in attached link using the actual testimony," tweeted Hemingway. "Shocking that this was published given its lack of truth. It needs to be retracted."
After the pushback reached critical mass, NPR finally issued the following correction:
Updated at 4 p.m. ET
Editor's note: An earlier version of this report mischaracterized an answer Donald Trump Jr. gave to Senate investigators in 2017 about the prospective projects his family was negotiating with people in Moscow.
The story reported that Trump Jr.'s response — that negotiations on one project concluded by the end of 2014 — contrasted with the version of events as laid out in the guilty plea by Michael Cohen on Thursday. In fact, Trump Jr. and investigators were alluding to a different set of negotiations — not to a deal that Cohen was reportedly pursuing. Trump Jr. did acknowledge in his testimony that Cohen and another man were exploring a possible deal in Moscow in 2015 or 2016.
Trump Jr. did not address what Cohen has now admitted — that talks about such a deal continued at least into June 2016, longer than previously known and well into the presidential campaign.
NPR also deleted its original post and issued a new one:
But since it took about five hours for NPR to make any changes, by that time the story had already been promoted by several outlets, including CNN, which invited on analyst Susan Hennessey to repeat NPR's false claim:
Trump Jr. has since responded to NPR's belated correction.
"I guess this is as close as I’ll get to an apology where yet another 'bombshell' bites the dust," he tweeted in response to the retraction. "Pro tip: don’t just rush to publish anything thinking that it’s the got ya you so desperately want it to be. CNN has the market cornered on that... let them own it."
He's also been calling out those on the Left who were eager to share the false story and have failed to issue their own retractions, like Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy.
"You were saying senator???" he tweeted in response to Leahy sharing NPR's false story. "Please correct this immediately so you aren’t misleading many people now that even NPR corrected their sloppy attempt to smear me."
"Serious question for non-biased 'fact checkers' — What % of corrected or withdrawn stories originally erred in Trump’s favor?" he asked in another tweet. "I honestly don’t recall a single one. The media’s 'Oops, honest mistake' defense breaks down when you consider this point."
A few more examples of posts Trump Jr. has tweeted or retweeted over the course of the day: