The Washington Post fact-checker lashed out at President Trump last year when he rejected unfounded media claims that Russia had placed bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and he wasn’t doing anything about it.
The Post gave the president “Four Pinocchios” for his comments.
But now the bounty claim has been largely debunked by Biden administration officials. So what is the Washington Post’s reaction? It’s leaving the “Four Pinocchio” rating on the story.
The paper is merely adding a clarification, drawing scorn from Twitter users who are describing it as yet another “fact-check fail.”
— Disenfranchised Voter (@AZStateman) April 16, 2021
The Post’s correction was simply called an “Update.”
“The Biden administration announced sanctions on Russian individuals and entities in response to the country’s election interference, cyberattacks and occupation of Crimea,” the Post said. “As part of the sanctions announcement, Biden administration officials disclosed that the U.S. intelligence community has ‘low to moderate confidence’ in earlier reports that Russian intelligence officers placed bounties on U.S. troops.”
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) April 15, 2021
"It was a blockbuster story….The Kremlin had spread money around [Afghanistan] for militants to kill US forces. It sparked a massive outcry from Democrats…But on Thursday, the Biden Admin. announced that U.S. intelligence only had “low to moderate” confidence in the story." https://t.co/Pxtas4RZH8
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 15, 2021
Fox News reported the U.S. intelligence community abruptly backed off claims about the Russian bounties.
“A senior Biden administration official said Thursday the intelligence community only had ‘low to moderate’ confidence in the Russian bounty story, meaning it is unproven and possibly untrue, due to a reliance on ‘detainee reporting.’ The revelation came as the administration announced a new series of sanctions against Russia for a host of reasons, but the bounty story was not among them,” the report said.
The bounty claims were just the latest symptom of what Fox described as a press “fixated on Russia collusion accusations since 2016.”
The bounties story “went wild last year,” Fox noted, and now “critics are furious over another example of legacy press outlets corroborating one another on an anonymously sourced story that turned out to be, at best, doubtful.”
Media watchdog Steve Krakauer said there are only two explanations: “Either the media got spun bad information from its intelligence sources, or it got the story being fed from the intelligence sources wrong. Either way, it’s a bad look.”
The New York Times claimed last year “a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan.”
The Trump administration immediately described it as “an unverified rumor.”
But Biden, at the time, “blasted Trump for saying there was low confidence in the intelligence and continuing to have calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Kamala Harris even brought up the story during her vice-presidential debate with Mike Pence,” Fox News said.
The Post’s July 2020 “fact check”:
Fact Checker: Trump’s Four-Pinocchio interview on Russian bounties https://t.co/bctgGmC6hl
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) July 30, 2020