The competition among major media to feed the Russia-mania news cycle beast leads to shoddy (at best) reporting.

We saw that yesterday, when the Washington Post ran a scoop about Trump having an “undisclosed hour-long meeting with Putin at G-20 Summit.”

Here is the Original version:

After his much-publicized, two-and a quarter-hour meeting early this month with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Germany, President Trump met informally with the Russian leader for an additional hour later the same day.

The second meeting, unreported at the time, took place at a dinner for G20 leaders, a senior administration official said. Halfway through the meal, Trump left his own seat to occupy a chair next to Putin. Trump was alone, and Putin was attended only by his official interpreter.

The encounter underscores the extent to which Trump was eager throughout the summit to cultivate a friendship with Putin. During last year’s campaign, Trump spoke admiringly of Putin and at times seemed captivated by him.

Meeting each other face-to-face for the first time in Hamburg, the two presidents seemed to have a chemistry in their more formal bilateral session, evidenced by the fact that it dragged on for more than two hours.

But Trump’s newly-disclosed conversation with Putin at the G20 dinner is likely to stoke further criticism, including perhaps from some fellow Republicans in Congress, that he is too cozy with the leader of a major U.S. adversary….

Note that the sole source for the story was someone who was not there, Ian Bremmer. So the story was double hearsay. The NY Times, in its subsequent reporting, also relies solely on Bremmer.

That didn’t stop the anti-Trump media from running wild with the story, with its own screaming headline, which originally was Trump and Putin Held a Second, Undisclosed, Private Meeting. That headline now has been revised to take out the word “meeting” and call it a “private conversation” – Trump and Putin Held a Second, Undisclosed, Private Conversation.

CNN and other anti-Trump media went wild with speculation:

But the actual facts were quite different that portrayed. It turns out the meeting wasn’t a separate meeting, but a conversation at a dinner table in the presence of numerous other leaders. WaPo then amended its story, here is a Revised Version

After his much-publicized, two-and-a-quarter-hour meeting early this month with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Germany, President Trump chatted informally with the Russian leader for up to an additional hour later the same day.

The second meeting, undisclosed at the time, took place at a dinner for G-20 leaders, a senior administration official said. At some point during the meal, Trump left his own seat to occupy a chair next to Putin. Trump approached alone, and Putin was attended only by his official interpreter.

In a statement issued Tuesday night after published reports of the conversation, the White House said that “there was no ‘second meeting’ between President Trump and President Putin, just a brief conversation at the end of a dinner. The insinuation that the White House has tried to ‘hide’ a second meeting,” it said, “is false, malicious and absurd.”

“All the leaders” circulated around the room throughout the dinner, and “President Trump spoke with many leaders,” the statement said. “As the dinner was concluding,” it said, Trump spoke “briefly” with Putin, who was seated next to first lady Melania Trump.

The dinner conversation with Putin was first reported Monday by Ian Bremmer, president of the New York-based Eurasia Group, in a newsletter to group clients. Bremmer said the meeting began “halfway in” to the meal and lasted “roughly an hour.” The senior official said it began with the dessert course, but did not comment on its length….

The White House explanation is further reported in The Washington Examiner:

President Trump’s previously undisclosed conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin occurred because first lady Melania Trump had been assigned a seat beside Putin at an official dinner during the G-20 summit in Hamburg earlier this month, a White House official said Tuesday evening.

“Chancellor Merkel hosted a dinner for leaders and spouses only, and the German government set the seating arrangements,” the official said after reports of a second meeting between Trump and Putin surfaced on Tuesday. “The concert [earlier that evening] and dinner were publicly announced on both the president’s schedule and the G-20 schedule, with the clear understanding that all visiting leaders would be present.”

“At the dinner, President Trump was seated between Mrs. Abe, wife of the Prime Minister of Japan, and Mrs. Macri, wife of the President of Argentina. Mrs. Trump was seated next to President Putin,” the official explained. “During the course of the dinner, all the leaders circulated throughout the room and spoke with one another freely. President Trump spoke with many leaders during the course of the evening. As the dinner was concluding, President Trump went over to Mrs. Trump, where he spoke briefly with President Putin.” ….

“There was no ‘second meeting’ between President Trump and President Putin, just a brief conversation at the end of a dinner. The insinuation that the White House has tried to ‘hide’ a second meeting is false, malicious and absurd,” a White House official said. “It is not merely perfectly normal, it is part of a president’s duties, to interact with world leaders. Throughout the G20 and in all his other foreign engagements, President Trump has demonstrated American leadership by representing our interests and values on the world stage.”

That White House explanation makes perfect sense when you view the scene and the dinner table at which the “meeting” or “private conversation”. These videos, which don’t show Trump and Putin speaking, nonetheless shows Melania next to Putin, under the watchful glare of Angela Merkel, and Trump working the crowd and speaking to numerous leaders. Not exactly private.

Here are some screenshots. You can see Melania and Putin in the lower right, with an interpreter:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Z2aDLl793P0

And Merkel just a few feet away:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Z2aDLl793P0

And Trump speaking to an Arab leader (probably Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz):

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Z2aDLl793P0

And talking with another leader:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41IGjNcJvbU

This is all part of the red-baiting that dominates the media. Note how Bremmer is spinning this as part of a larger Russia issue, and downplaying the actual incident (which he did not witness):

Don’t trust the media when it comes to Russia and Trump. They may be broken clocks, occasionally getting something right, but for the most part they are just pushing Russia-mania click bait.