In an op-ed for The Hill this week, Emmy Award-winning investigative journalist and former CBS reporter who went “rogue” Sharyl Attkisson, called out her fellow media members for their reckless and partisan reporting on the “Trump-Russia collusion” acusations. She also called on members of the intelligence community to apologize to all the people and entities they’ve damaged by letting themselves be politically “weaponized.”
“With the conclusions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe now known to a significant degree, it seems apologies are in order,” she writes. “However, judging by the recent past, apologies are not likely forthcoming from the responsible parties.”
The accusations — for which some major outlets have even earned some coveted journalism awards — proved to be “unfounded,” says Attkisson, “Just as Trump said all along.” As a reference, Attkisson links to a Bloomberg report highlighting Trump’s assertion that the whole thing was bogus some 200 times over the last two years.
“Yet, each time Trump said so, some of us in the media lampooned him,” writes Attkisson. “We treated any words he spoke in his own defense as if they were automatically to be disbelieved because he had uttered them. Some even declared his words to be ‘lies,’ although they had no evidence to back up their claims.”
“We in the media allowed unproven charges and false accusations to dominate the news landscape for more than two years, in a way that was wildly unbalanced and disproportionate to the evidence,” she stresses. “We did a poor job of tracking down leaks of false information. We failed to reasonably weigh the motives of anonymous sources and those claiming to have secret, special evidence of Trump’s ‘treason.'”
The result was a stunning amount of false information, as Attkisson documents in a piece listing over 70 major reporting errors related to Trump accusations. Even when media outlets made mistakes, she adds, they often doubled down by citing technicalities and quickly returning to larger, unfounded accusations against Trump.
“So, a round of apologies seem in order,” she states, first and foremost: “Apologies to Trump on behalf of those in the U.S. intelligence community, including the Department of Justice and the FBI, which allowed the weaponization of sensitive, intrusive intelligence tools against innocent citizens such as Carter Page, an adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign.” (Read Attkisson’s op-ed here.)
On Sunday, Attorney General William Barr released his summary of the final report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which he said found no evidence that any members of the Trump campaign or any of his associates “conspired or coordinated with Russia” to influence the 2016 election. The investigation also did not find conclusive evidence that Trump obstructed justice.
“The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” Barr states. “As the report states: ‘[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.'”
“[T]he report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as ‘difficult issues’ of law and fact concerning whether the President’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction,” writes Barr. “The Special Counsel’s report states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.'”