Last week, the Wall Street Journal broke what should be viewed as the top media story of the past decade… at least. In a story headlined Trump Call to Georgia Lead Investigator Reveals New Details, the Wall Street Journal published a verbatim transcript of a telephone call between President Trump and the chief election fraud investigator for the office of the Georgia secretary of state, Frances Watson.
The alleged contents of this conversation had been part of the national conversation ever since January 9 when Washington Post reporter Amy Gardner published a story claiming, based on a single anonymous source, that President Trump had attempted to pressure Ms. Watson into creating evidence of fraud where all right-thinking people know that all voting in Georgia, especially in Fulton County, was totally on the up-and-up. The story blew up. It slid neatly into the Pantheon of Evil Acts By Trump worshiped by the left, the media, and NeverTrump. Through the miracle of journalisming, something we lay folks can’t be expected to understand, the anonymously sourced story was quickly and independently confirmed by NBC, ABC, USA Today, PBS, and CNN.
When President Trump was impeached after leaving office for giving a speech on the National Mall on January 6, this unsourced, though now multiply “corroborated,” allegation found its way into the “impeachment brief” submitted by the House “impeachment managers,” see page 10 if you care to wade through this dross. And, they, relying upon that integrity and sense of fair play for which progressives are famous, even used it in their impeachment arguments.
What made the Wall Street Journal story such a bombshell is that it showed that quotes attributed to President Trump had been manufactured out of thin air. The statements where it could be arguably claimed that he was encouraging Ms. Watson to manufacture cases of fraud to help him win the election did not exist. That’s right. Did. Not. Exist. For reasons known only to the Washington Post, they decided to run a cheap, political hit on President Trump. For reasons known only to Amy Gardner, she decided that running a major story based on nothing more substantial than a game of telephone and was able to convince her editors that it was a good idea.
Once it became obvious that the Washington Post had the Piltdown Man of journalism on its hands (read The Washington Post Quietly Corrects Months-Old Propaganda About Trump’s GA Call), it had to burn its source or admit that it didn’t have one.
The Washington Post reported on the substance of Trump’s Dec. 23 call in January, describing him saying that Watson should “find the fraud” and that she would be a “national hero,” based on an account from Jordan Fuchs, the deputy secretary of state, whom Watson briefed on his comments.
Fuchs is Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s former campaign manager, both for his successful 2015 run for the Georgia legislature and his 2018 run for Secretary of State. She’ll have to answer for her own motives in making up a conversation and seeking out a national media outlet to distribute the falsehood. Just joking. Of course, she won’t have to answer for squat because “believe women” and #OrangeManBad. I’d just note that if you check the story archive of Amy Gardner, it looks like Gardner was using Fuchs for stories for some months. And there is also the small matter of how the only recording of this call was deleted and discovered in a computer “trash” folder. Because you delete copies of phone calls from the President of the United States to state election functionaries all the time, but, I suspect, any innate sense of curiosity over this will be suppressed.
Now that the Washington Post has burned Fuchs down, there is still unresolved business. NBC, ABC, USA Today, and CNN all claim to have independently verified Fuchs’s story (read The Real Scandal Behind the Washington Post-Trump Scandal). Though other outlets have now flagged the inaccurate reporting, CNN, naturally, has stealth-edited their stories to give the appearance that they were correct all along. Pretty shameful… or it would be shameful if they didn’t already employ Don Lemon, Brian Stelter, and Chris Cuomo. The rewrites of the stories all finger Fuchs as the source, but their original reporting claimed independent verification. It is unclear whether Fuchs was the anonymous source to multiple outlets, whether other anonymous sources were carrying forth the same lies, or if the other outlets simply took the Washington Post reporting at face value and lied about having corroborated the story.
This is significant. If Fuchs was the sole source, it could be written off to a senior staffer, emotionally invested in protecting her boss carrying out a hit on the President of the United States to take the heat off the absolute clown car that was the 2020 election in Georgia. You could, by the way, do this without fear of contradiction if you’d ordered the only copy of the audio file recording the conversation destroyed (read The Story of the WaPo ‘Scoop’ and the Discovery of the Trump Recording Is So Much Worse Than It Appears and GA’s Sec of State Ofc Has Some Explaining to Do). If Fuchs energized the communications shop inside the Secretary of State’s office to hit multiple outlets, then it starts looking like Raffensperger knew, or should have known, what was going on. If everyone lied about sourcing and relied on the Washington Post (this is my favorite theory), then we have a master class in how anonymous sources are used in the traditional media.
One final note. If the Daily Caller or Free Beacon or even the Washington Examiner had pulled a bullsh** stunt like this, they would be out of business (read The Washington Post Doesn’t Deserve to Exist After Making up Trump Quotes to Own the Orange Man). Facebook and Twitter would have de-platformed them by now (read Based on Brian Stelter’s Own Arguments, CNN and Washington Post Should Be Deplatformed). They would be ritually sacrificing staffers to try to keep advertisers from fleeing, and they would still fail. The Washington Post and Amy Gardner will simply move ahead. They will continue to sling wild conspiracy theories based on uncorroborated single sources, and they will continue to be treated as though they are serious newsgathering organizations.