Special Report: The New York Times is at it again, reporting unproven allegations about Russia as flat fact, while anyone who questions the Russia-gate groupthink faces ugly attacks, reports Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry
It is a basic rule from Journalism 101 that when an allegation is in serious doubt – or hasn’t been established as fact – you should convey that uncertainty to your reader by using words like “alleged” or “purportedly.” But The New York Times and pretty much the entire U.S. news media have abandoned that principle in their avid pursuit of Russia-gate.
When Russia is the target of an article, the Times typically casts aside all uncertainty about Russia’s guilt, a pattern that we’ve seen in the Times in earlier sloppy reporting about other “enemy” countries, such as Iraq or Syria, as well Russia’s involvement in Ukraine’s civil war. Again and again, the Times regurgitates highly tendentious claims by the U.S. government as undeniable truth.
So, despite the lack of publicly provided evidence that the Russian government did “hack” Democratic emails and slip them to WikiLeaks to damage Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump, the Times continues to treat those allegations as flat fact.
For a while, the Times also repeated the false claim that “all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies” concurred in the Russia-did-it conclusion, a lie that was used to intimidate and silence skeptics of the thinly sourced Russia-gate reports issued by President Obama’s intelligence chiefs.
Only after two of those chiefs – Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan – admitted that the key Jan. 6 report was produced by what Clapper called “hand-picked” analysts from just three agencies, the Times was forced to run an embarrassing correction retracting the “17 agencies” canard.
But the Times then switched its phrasing to a claim that Russian guilt was a “consensus” of the U.S. intelligence community, a misleading formulation that still suggests that all 17 agencies were onboard without actually saying so – all the…