Do not trust anti-Trump mainstream media reports based on anonymous sources. That’s something we have learned time and again as the motive and pressure to generate headlines on supposed Russia campaign collusion is enormous.

It’s not just a matter of bad faith, although there’s plenty of that. It’s competition, and the desire to break news that will dominate news cycles.

Yesterday it was announced that Michael Flynn was pleading guilty to a single charge that he lied to the FBI about meetings with the Russian ambassador in late December 2016. That meeting and those discussions were not themselves illegal, and interacting with foreign officials in the weeks before a transition of power is routine. In fact, it would be negligent not to prepare the foreign policy ground in advance of an inauguration.

So the Flynn guilty plea, in itself, was newsworthy, but didn’t seem to implicate the entire supposed purpose of the Mueller investigation, Russian interference in the election and supposed collusion with the Trump campaign. In order to prove that collusion, which wouldn’t be illegal but would be politically damaging, you need to show Trump himself or someone high in the campaign directing improper contacts with the Russians during the campaign.

There is no evidence of collusion so far.

But Brian Ross of ABC News broke a bombshell in connection with the Flynn plea, that an unnamed source told ABC News that Flynn was prepared to testify that Trump himself told Flynn to contact the Russians during the campaign. That news, that Flynn supposedly would implicate Trump himself and the campaign in Russia collusion, dominated the headlines and news cycle more so than the Flynn guilty plea itself.

(added) The View erupted in cheers at the ABC News report:

Markets instantaneously tumbled at the prospect that that the Flynn cooperation deal meant Trump himself might be implicated. It was not the Flynn plea itself that caused the problem, but the ABC News report. The market recovered when the ABC News report was cast into doubt.

But the ABC News report wasn’t true. ABC was called out by other reporters, particularly Oliver Darcy of CNN, for inconsistencies in its reporting.

After being hounded, ABC News several hours later issued a “clarification”:

ABC News was lambasted for calling it a “clarification” instead of a correction or retraction.

So eventually ABC News issued it as a “correction”:

Ross has a history of mistakes in reporting, including the infamous report on supposed Tea Party involvement in the Aurora, CO, movie theater shooting in 2012. But the mainstream media and anti-Trump punditry were willing to believe his thinly sourced (at best) report implicating Trump.

So one lesson of this ABC News debacle is not to trust the media.

A second lesson is to try to understand why the markets would react so negatively to any evidence (real or perceived) that Trump himself might be implicated in campaign collusion. The investing community believes that Trump will be good for the economy and businesses, and that is good for investors.

Don’t underestimate the political implications of the economic optimism Trump inspires.