The past few years are riddled with examples of major media outlets relying on anonymous sources for “blockbuster” stories— only to have the information be proven wrong.
Yet there’s been little to no accountability.
Most recently it’s the cacophony of admissions by media, including The Washington Post, that falsely declared (early and often) the Covid-19 lab origin theory was “debunked.” They received ample support in for the misinformation from Facebook, Twitter, Google and public health officials such as Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Before that, there were notable corrections by NBC, The New York Times and The Washington Post on another major story. The news outlets had to correct their false reporting about Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani. The articles all claimed that prior to 2019 political scandals involving the U.S., Russia and Ukraine, Giuliani and/or the conservative news channel One America News had received a “former warning from the FBI about Russian disinformation.” However, story revisions in May later stated that Giuliani and One America News did not receive such so-called “defensive briefings,” after all.
Looking at the news organizations and bylines responsible for the errors, we can see repeat offenders. Some of the same players have made the same sorts of egregious reporting mistakes over and over again, yet go on to make more as if no lessons were learned from the previous. And as I’ve documented, when the media gets caught having publicized the worst kind of false information, instead of issuing a mea culpa and apologies, the offenders often double down and revise the original terms of the story to make it seem as if the false information didn’t matter at all.