Comey flunks the New York Times
Liberal media outlets like The New York Times have a political objective driving their coverage: Ruin President Trump.
This is why the “news” producers treated former FBI Director Jim Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee as a Watergate moment, a first impeachment hearing to be broadcast live on every “news” channel on television. Liberals in Washington, D.C., took the day off and went to bars to celebrate the beginning of the end. The media celebrated the celebrations.
When Comey admitted that he is a leaker, having used a law professor buddy to send his “Dear Diary” worries on President Trump to The New York Times, we at last had a poster boy for the Trump haters who were anonymously directing the narrative that dominated the media.
Comey made it clear that he leaked to the Times in a successful effort to force a special counsel to investigate the unproven conspiracy theory of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government to defeat Hillary Clinton. Comey’s leak also led to the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions from the Russia probe.
This collaboration between leaker and media came into question when Comey was asked by Sen. Jim Risch about a front-page New York Times story on Feb. 15, in which it was reported that Trump aides “had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.” The writers noted, “All of the current and former officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the continuing investigation is classified.” Naturally.
Comey told Risch it was false reporting. “In the main, it was not true,” he said. Longtime Washington Post reporter David Vise counseled, “The Times might consider a correction of their own given Comey’s testimony.” But the Times is refusing to admit error.
Instead, it played cute on the day after the hearing. A blurb on the front page read, “Article disputed: James B. Comey expressed doubts, without specifying, over the main elements of a New York Times article about direct contacts between Trump advisers and Russian officials.” Expressed doubts? Saying it’s untrue isn’t a doubt, any more than what the Times reports are “facts.”
On page A-21 of the Times was a one-column report vaguely headlined “Disputing Times Article About Inquiry Into Russia.” What followed was a pile of excuses by the same three reporters who wrote the original erroneous report. They weakly claimed that any Russian might be called an “intelligence official,” since the spy agencies use private citizens.
This might be an occasion to nudge the Times’ public editor (or reader’s representative) to investigate, but it just abolished Liz Spayd, and her final column came the week before Comey testified.
The Times doubled down in a statement, saying, “Neither the F.B.I., nor Mr. Comey would comment or elaborate on what Mr. Comey believes to be incorrect.” So the Times can take leaks from Comey and the FBI and grant them anonymity, but when its reports are challenged as untrue in front of millions of people, suddenly Comey’s judgment is too vague to matter.
As it launches anonymously sourced missiles from the front pages in its war on Trump, the Times and its liberal-media colleagues have sacrificed every notion of objectivity, and every notion of transparency. Now they are shredding the notion that accuracy matters to them more than their political agenda.
L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center.