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NPR joins Trump Derangement Syndrome Fake News Hall of Fame

NPR joins Trump Derangement Syndrome Fake News Hall of Fame

After being called out, NPR undermines its own story in Editor’s Note: “Trump Jr. did not address what Cohen has now admitted”

NPR posted the type of “scoop” story that has become common among journalists trying to out-do each other in going after all things Trump: “Trump Jr.’s 2017 Testimony Conflicts With Cohen’s Account Of Russian Talks.”

The point of the story, however, was premised on a clear misreading of the transcripts because there is no conflict between the testimonies of Donald Trump, Jr. and Michael Cohen. 

After being called out on their error, NPR changed the article’s title to “Cohen’s Account Of Russia Talks Raises Questions About Trump Jr. 2017 Testimony” and added an “Editor’s Note” to explain that there is no there there . . . yet the story is, as of this writing, still live on NPR’s site and without a full retraction.

Mollie Hemingway and Sean Davis at The Federalist led the charge in debunking the NPR story.

Hemingway wrote at The Federalist:

NPR falsely claimed that Donald Trump Jr.’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2017 conflicted with an account given by a former attorney for President Donald Trump.

Here is NPR’s false write-up of that testimony:

Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2017 that although there had been negotiations surrounding a prospective Trump Tower in Moscow, they concluded without result ‘at the end’ of 2014.

‘But not in 2015 or 2016?’ Trump Jr. was asked.

‘Certainly not ’16,’ he said. ‘There was never a definitive end to it. It just died of deal fatigue.’

Trump’s account contrasts with the new version of events given by Cohen on Thursday in a guilty plea in federal court. In that new version, Cohen says the discussions with at least one Russian government official and others in Moscow continued through June 2016, well into Trump’s presidential campaign.

In fact, Senate investigators were asking Trump Jr. about a series of efforts to develop property in Russia, going back several years. Reporter Phil Ewing (reporter Tim Mak contributed to the story) conflates one of those efforts with another separate effort. That conflation results in the false news report.

A full 100 pages before the portion Ewing quotes, Trump Jr. explicitly contradicts NPR’s false claim when he gives a clear answer to the following question:

Q. It’s been reported that in late 2015 or 2016 when now President Trump was running for office the Trump Organization was pursuing a plan to develop a massive Trump Tower in Moscow. Is that accurate?
A. Yes.

A hundred pages later, the investigator asks if there was an effort by Felix Sater to “bring together a development in Moscow.” Trump Jr. says he believes there was an effort to work on that with Cohen in 2015. Asked if he knew about the deal, he says not much, but that it got to the point his father signed a letter of intent. He said he would provide a copy of that letter. Trump Jr. says he was aware of this deal “peripherally.”

The transcripts give lie to the NPR story, making it a clear example of the type of #FakeNews that President Trump decries.

The story’s author, Phil Ewing, claims that he simply misread what the transcripts said.

The Federalist continued:

As is obvious from the context, the quotes Ewing used weren’t about the Cohen efforts, but the Agalarov efforts.

What makes Ewing’s error so surprising is that the very next two lines make abundantly clear that the discussion is not about the Cohen efforts but the Agalarov efforts. Here’s a brief exchange with Trump’s attorney:

Q. How did that deal first come about?
MR. FUTERFAS: Which, just for clarification?
MR. PRIVOR: The Agalarovs in 2014.

Rather than pull the story and issue an apology, NPR chose to retitle it and add the following Editor’s Note:

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. [Emphasis mine]

So wait, “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,” but NPR is still saying that Cohen’s account “Raises Questions” about Trump Jr’s testimony . . . about something else entirely? How does that work?

So why does #FakeNews matter? Because it is spread by unthinking and/or agenda-driven people who don’t really care about the truth or whether or not what they are spreading is fact or, as in this case, pure fiction.

Now you might think that Schindler, upon seeing that NPR’s original tweet had been deleted (viewable here via, might note this. But no, in the cascade of anti-Trump vitriol that follows this tweet, Schindler, as of this writing, makes no mention at all of NPR’s fakery.

But the damage is being done:

While Trump Jr. is pushing back, the #FakeNews will take hold and become “truth” for the Trump Deranged.

Yet the story, now without any foundation at all, remains and without a full retraction.

Last year, President Trump and the GOP released the 2017 Fake News Awards; perhaps NPR felt left out and are attempting an 11th hour bid to make the 2018 Fake News Awards list? They’ve certainly earned a place in the Trump Derangement Syndrome Fake News Hall of Fame.


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Bucky Barkingham | December 1, 2018 at 11:40 am

NPR – taxpayer funded FakeNews.

I’m glad that the lie was exposed so quickly but this isn’t news any longer. This is the crap that is called news! No one bothers to fact check anything anymore and it is with the blessings of the editors. As long as it is negative for Trump then it goes to print/air. These fools in the msm don’t seem to realize that their days are numbered and that Americans are fair-minded people. Eventually, even anti-Trumpers will be revolted by their lack of ethics and professionalism.

Obama, 2012: Do business with Russia!

“The House of Representatives and the Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation allowing Obama to grant permanent normal trade relations, or PNTR, to Russia in order to ensure that U.S. companies share the full benefits of Russia’s recent entry in the World Trade Organization.”

NPR, 2018: Evil orange man attempted to do business with Russia!

“NPR falsely claimed that Donald Trump Jr.’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2017 conflicted with an account given by a former attorney for President Donald Trump.”

There is no underlying crime to any of this process. Only perjury traps. WE’RE BEING PLAYED, PEOPLE!

So Donald Trump Jr. told the truth which conflicted with Creepy Porn Lawyer’s original testimony but was corrected when CPL admitted that his original testimony was a lie. Yes, that clearly raises questions. What was Don Jr’s motivation for telling the truth? Why did CPL lie then later confirm that Don Jr told the truth? Why did NPR lie about this? Why did NPR then revise their statement to remove the lie and replace it with accusatory spin?

So many questions. Worse than Hitler!!!!!

Richard Grant | December 1, 2018 at 1:07 pm

What is most sad, and upsetting, is that this nonsense will end, will only get worse, and the end result of all this is the internal destruction of America… is going to get really ugly.

    What is sad and upsetting is that an American citizen can be forced to testify about his involvement in a perfectly legal activity with the hopes of a contradictory story by a disgruntled former employee can be used as a basis for prosecution.

      What is worse is having committed no crime but yet getting trapped for lying due to a clever, politically-driven “special prosecutor”. The investigation IS the crime.

This is when I kinda wish it was easier to sue media companies for doing this.

It’s either a flat out lie or extreme incompetence but there are no real consequences for it because the media practically can’t be touched thanks to previous court rulings.

I don’t think the First Amendment should protect media companies to this extent.

    Milhouse in reply to Blueshot. | December 2, 2018 at 1:31 am

    It doesn’t protect media companies more than it does everyone else.

      Anonamom in reply to Milhouse. | December 2, 2018 at 11:56 am

      Have you ever been involved in any litigation involving the media? In my experience, they are given a shocking level of deference and treated with kid gloves by the courts.

        Milhouse in reply to Anonamom. | December 2, 2018 at 2:24 pm

        Maybe, but there’s not even a hint of such a thing in the first amendment.

          Edward in reply to Milhouse. | December 3, 2018 at 11:20 pm

          C’mon Milhouse. You aren’t enough of a naif to believe that the Federal Courts actually use the Constitution as the ultimate law of the land (hint, as evidenced by the Fourth Circuit giving the SCOTUS Heller decision a big FU in the MD “Assault Weapon” case). Next you’ll be telling us that there are no Obama/Clinton/Bush/Trump Judges, just Judges trying to do their level best to administer the laws completely and fairly to everyone.

Hope, Change, Progress (i.e. monotonic), and warlock hunts.

Leahy is one of the dimmest bulbs in the swamp, he can’t comprehend the real story.

Possible defections.