Special Counsel John Durham on Monday released his final report on the origins of the FBI’s Trump-Russia collusion investigation He concluded that “neither U.S. law enforcement nor the Intelligence Community appears to have possessed any actual evidence of collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Durham's report has revived calls for The Washington Post and The New York Times to return the Pulitzer Prizes awarded in 2018 for their discredited reporting on bogus allegations that have now been put to rest by the special counsel’s findings.
Steve Guest, an aide to Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, tweeted that the special counsel’s report shows the 2018 Pulitzer Prizes for national reporting “are utter garbage.”
Related: Trump demands Pulitzer board remove NY Times, Washington Post prizes for Russiagate coverage, June 1, 2022
The prizes were awarded, the Pulitzer committee proclaimed, “for deeply sourced, relentlessly reported coverage in the public interest that dramatically furthered the nation’s understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its connections to the Trump campaign, the President-elect’s transition team and his eventual administration.”
In March 2017, The Post ran the headline: "FBI wants to pay author of Trump dossier: Arrangement fell apart but shows bureau found his inquiry credible".
The report never quoted anyone saying the dossier was credible.
The Post, which is bankrolled by Democrat-donating Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, insists it will not give up the Pulitzer.
"The Post stands by its reporting," a Washington Post spokeswoman said.
The Post's response stirs up a quote from "Seinfeld" in which George Costanza is asked to explain his prowess for lying: "It's not a lie if you believe it."
In its reporting, The New York Times claimed Christopher Steele had "a credible track record."
Asked if the Durham report invalidates its Pulitzer Prize, New York Times newsroom and opinion spokesman Charlie Stadtlander responded with a one-word reply: “No.”
In 2022, the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) slammed The Times for its coverage of the Trump-Russia saga.
The CJR, the in-house publication of America's most prestigious journalism school, spent 18 months digging into the media's reporting of Trump's alleged ties to Russia.
The report contained criticism of the media as a whole, but author Jeff Gerth reserved particular disdain for The Times. The investigative journalist introduced his findings by stating his belief that the newspaper had damaged its credibility outside its "own bubble."
In November 2021, the Post retracted large chunks of two articles published in 2017 and 2019 that relied on the Steele dossier.
Sally Buzbee, the executive editor for the Washington Post, said the newspaper was unable to stand by the accuracy of their reporting regarding source Sergei Millian — former president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce — noting the indictment filed by Durham that month.
The Times has not issued any retractions, but Jeff Gerth, a former reporter for the paper himself, said that it was one of many news organizations that "were quick to highlight the lack of firsthand evidence" for many of Steele's "substantive allegations."
In his concluding remarks, the CJR reporter slammed the NYT for ignoring a publicly available document showing the FBI didn't think there was much evidence of Trump-Russia collusion.
He also cited the newspaper's repeated failures to seek comment from the person it was accusing of wrongdoing in its articles — a fundamental tenet of rigorous reporting — and its consistent reliance on vague, anonymous sources.
Robert Morton, President of FreePressFoundation.org, said "the future of American journalism has been jeopardized by the disappointing response to the John Durham final report by two once-great newspapers." Earlier, on June 1, 2022, he had called on the Times and the Post to uphold their journalistic integrity according to a report.
“Either these awards should be rescinded or the New York Times and the Washington Post should uphold the highest traditions of the American Free Press and voluntarily surrender them.”
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