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21 Sep, 2018 16:38

NYT rolls out mammoth report on ‘Russian interference’ that fails to tell allegations from facts

NYT rolls out mammoth report on ‘Russian interference’ that fails to tell allegations from facts

A new take on the ‘Russia hacked the US election’ story by the Gray Lady herself may make some in the journalistic community cringe. It’s usually not considered correct to report allegations as facts, you see.

On Thursday the New York Times published a 10,000-word special report titled ‘A Plot to Subvert an Election: Unravelling the Russia Story So Far’. Written in a way that would make the late Tom Clancy proud, it summarizes the many aspects about alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The report has all the hallmarks of standard Russia scoop. Intellectuals will be pleased to see the name of Aleksandr Dugin in the section explaining why Russian President Vladimir Putin hates America and its freedom. The less-read are told about how he called the fall of the USSR the greatest geopolitical disaster of the previous century.

There is a lot of action montage going on. Here are “keyboard warriors granted the unusual privilege of real-world travel” to the US to lay the groundwork for a “virtual invasion”. In the next paragraph we read about Putin raging about Panama Papers exposing his personal friend as a secret billionaire. Next scene: Trump wistfully tweeting about becoming BFFs with Putin in the run up to The Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow.

Only two times in the entire text the words ‘alleged’ and ‘allegation’ show up, a remarkable achievement for a story featuring plenty of allegations made by the US government in the form of indictments filed by the Robert Mueller investigation. But for the NYT, apparently, proving allegations in a court of law is not necessary when talking about this story.

Such writing is a serious breach of journalistic standards, believes investigative journalist Joe Lauria, who used to work for the Wall Street Journal.

“You always use the word ‘alleged’ when discussing whatever the government alleges about what someone else has done. When it has been proven in a court of law, than that is a conviction. But until this happened, it is not fact, it was not proven, it is not the truth. That’s an allegation. And that’s all we’ve got from the Mueller indictments,” he told RT.

The outlet is far from being the only US media outlet, which has been doing a disfavor to their audiences with skewed reporting on the ‘Russiagate’ story, Lauria told RT.

“Their ethics here are abominable. And they are not the only ones. CNN, they are all doing it, taking this as fact when it’s only an accusation. I think they realize they are in trouble and their reputation is at stake, so have to stick to this. They are not going to reverse themselves and begin to say ‘well, we really got some of this wrong’,” he predicted.

Understandably, the case the NYT makes for a “landmark intervention” by Russia and a “plausible case that Mr Putin succeeded in delivering the presidency to his admirer, Mr. Trump” cuts some corners. Paul Manafort, the now-convicted lobbyist for Ukrainian president, is depicted as a possible pro-Russian agent in the Trump campaign – despite court documents proving that his Ukraine gig was detrimental to Russian interests there. The hijacking of the Democratic Primary by the Clinton campaign exposed by the DNC email lead is described in mildest possible terms.

Only deep in the article the newspaper acknowledges that there is no public evidence to back the claim that the Trump campaign actually conspired with the Kremlin. In contrast, the first report bashes Trump for saying collusion is not a crime by remarking that “conspiracy is the technical legal term for abetting the Russians in breaking American laws”.

But where the NYT never fails is in depicting the very idea of better relations between the US and Russia is inherently evil and something that only a very naïve person – like the incumbent US president – or a Russian stooge would advocate. Job well done, Lady!

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