This was the moment Democrats were waiting for.
Robert Mueller had the goods on Donald Trump and could prove he was a criminal.
And that meant Donald Trump’s fate would be decided by these two words.
Recently, Buzzfeed dropped a bombshell story.
The liberal outlet reported that Michael Cohen testified to Robert Mueller that Donald Trump directed him to lie in his Congressional testimony about negotiations for a Trump Tower to be built in Moscow during the 2016 campaign.
Buzzfeed also claimed Mueller obtained documentary evidence backing up Cohen’s testimony.
This set off 24 hours of furious media speculation that Trump was on the verge of impeachment and removal from office.
One of the articles of impeachment that forced Richard Nixon to resign had accused the President of ordering subordinates to commit perjury.
The media coverage of Buzzfeed’s report also included a big caveat of “if true.”
A perfect example of this tendency to engage in gossip instead of reporting the facts came from NBC’s Chuck Todd.
The Meet the Press host told NBC’s Today Show co-host Savannah Guthrie that the story could be the turning point in the Russian investigation “if true.”
“In the Trump era we have a hard time sometimes under-calibrating — and everybody is like, ‘Oh my God, oh my God — this is it, this is it,’” Todd howled. “You can’t overstate how significant this development is, with the caveat of if true. I mean, a lot of this is the ‘if true.’”
But 24 hours later, the story collapsed.
Trump’s legal team reached out to Mueller asking them to deny this false story.
Mueller’s office took the unusual step of shooting down the story as false because it picked up traction on Capitol Hill with Congressional Democrats vowing to use it as the basis to impeach Donald Trump.
The Washington Post exclusively reported:
People familiar with the matter said after BuzzFeed published its story — which was attributed to “two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter” — the special counsel’s office reviewed evidence to determine if there were any documents or witness interviews like those described, reaching out to those they thought might have a stake in the case.
They found none, these people said.
This story exposed a massive flaw in the media and their coverage of the Russia investigation.
News outlets are not supposed to report on stories “if they are true.”
They are supposed to report what is true.
Including the caveat of “if true” in commentary on this story meant so-called “journalists” were engaging in gossip and not real reporting.
Even still, Buzzfeed editor Ben Smith and reporter Anthony Cormier doubled down on their story in an interview on CNN.
They claimed their sources – two senior federal law enforcement officials – told them to stand their ground.
But they also noted they could not say what language Trump used to direct Cohen to lie under oath.
Smith and Cormier also could not say what evidence there was to back up this claim.
The story claimed Mueller had texts and emails proving Trump directed Cohen to commit a crime, but no one knows who the texts or emails belonged to.
Fake news reporters disgraced themselves this past weekend by spreading this false story.
If journalists want to recover all the credibility they lost after their coverage of the 2016 election and for becoming naked anti-Trump partisans, then reporting on what is true—not what they hope to be true—would be a good start.
We will keep you up to date on any new developments in this ongoing story.