FNC’s Baier Stunned That Media Didn’t Correct False Cohen ‘Bombshell’

During a panel discussion on Thursday’s Special Report, Fox News anchor Bret Baier was amazed that the same network news organizations that hyped anonymous claims Donald Trump knew in advance about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between campaign aides and a Russian lawyer refused to correct the record when it was revealed on Wednesday that such claims were completely false.  

“There was a story that [former Trump attorney Michael] Cohen was going to say to Mueller and his investigators that President Trump, candidate Trump, knew about the...Trump Tower meeting beforehand...” Baier explained. He added: “And everybody went crazy with that story, I mean, it was all over the place.”

 

 

Baier then provided a fact-check on the now-false story, noting that Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis “said yesterday in a series of interviews, that wasn’t picked up any place, that Cohen didn’t say that. He was not the source, it never happened.” He recited a quote from an interview Davis gave with Axios: “It was painful. We were not the source, we could not confirm, we could not correct. We had to be silent because of the sensitivity needed in the middle of a criminal investigation.”

It turns out Davis would know, since he was the anonymous source who incorrectly leaked to the press that Cohen would testify then-candidate Trump knew about the Trump Tower-Russia meeting ahead of time.

Baier cited Cohen’s sworn testimony to Congress telling a very different story: “Testified that he didn’t know whether Trump knew about Trump Tower. He also testified that the stuff in the dossier about Cohen is absolutely false.” The host reiterated: “But nobody picked up that part of the story yesterday.”

Appearing on the panel, The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway blasted the media malpractice:

This is why it is so frustrating to see so many stories over the last year and a half sourced anonymously and no accountability when each and every one of those stories turns out – not each and every one – so many of those stories turn out not to be true. You have not seen a correction on the other network or any of the publications that ran with the story claiming that Cohen would speak totally against what his sworn testimony was and say that there was something nefarious about the Trump Tower meeting.

She implored reporters to do their job: “...the media have a role here. They have to hold people accountable and speak truth to power. When the power is all that strength of the Department of Justice, it’s just as important as when it is Donald Trump. And they’re failing here.”

Baier followed:

You know, not to take away from what we’re gonna learn and what we’ve see develop and what’s happening, but the fact that that wasn’t even talked about in all of those Lanny Davis interviews is really quite something. If you look at the original report and what was said and how it was picked up.

His recollection of the over-the-top media coverage was accurate. On July 27, the day after the supposed bombshell broke, the network morning shows ran wild with the story, devoting 28 minutes and 29 seconds of air time to the allegation.

 

 

On NBC’s Today show, co-host Savannah Guthrie proclaimed: “Breaking overnight, bombshell. President Trump’s longtime lawyer ready to deliver the goods, now claiming the president knew and approved of the Trump Tower meeting with his top campaign aides and a Russian promising dirt on Hillary Clinton...” She even emphasized that Cohen was ready to say what “really happened.”

On ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos hyped: “Now to that stunning political news overnight. Sources tell ABC News that Michael Cohen claims that Donald Trump had advanced knowledge of the Trump Tower meeting where Russians were expected to offer up dirt on Hillary Clinton.” In the report that followed, Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas ominously asked: “The critical question, what did the president know about that infamous Trump Tower meeting and when did he know it?”

CBS This Morning co-host Norah O’Donnell joined in the sensational coverage, claiming: “Cohen alleges that then-candidate Donald Trump knew in advance about a controversial June 2016 Trump Tower meeting where Russians were expected to give damaging information on Hillary Clinton.” She highlighted: “Now, this claim would contradict repeated denials by the president and what the president’s son and son-in-law have said under oath.”

If only any of those statements were actually true. As Hemingway pointed out, the media have a role to play in determining the veracity of claims about the Russia investigation, but so far,  “they’re failing.”

Here is a full transcript of the August 23 panel discussion on FNC’s Special Report:

6:42 PM ET

(...)

BRET BAIER: I want to talk about another thing, and this is a story that – you know, we focused on Cohen, we focused on Lanny Davis and what he’s been – he did a media roundabout. There was a story that Cohen was going to say to Mueller and his investigators that President Trump,  candidate Trump, knew about the Russia tower – Trump Tower meeting beforehand and that he had all these details and a competing network had all of this really detailed information from sources. And everybody went crazy with that story, I mean, it was all over the place.

Lanny Davis said yesterday in a series of interviews, that wasn’t picked up any place, that Cohen didn’t say that. He was not the source, it never happened. “It was painful. We were not the source, we could not confirm, we could not correct. We had to be silent because of the sensitivity needed in the middle of a criminal investigation.” Testified that he didn’t know whether Trump knew about Trump Tower. He also testified that the stuff in the dossier about Cohen is absolutely false. But nobody picked up that part of the story yesterday.

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY [THE FEDERALIST]: This is why it is so frustrating to see so many stories over the last year and a half sourced anonymously and no accountability when each and every one of those stories turns out – not each and every one – so many of those stories turn out not to be true. You have not seen a correction on the other network or any of the publications that ran with the story claiming that Cohen would speak totally against what his sworn testimony was and say that there was something nefarious about the Trump Tower meeting.

You saw very little coverage of Cohen’s attorney saying that not anything in the dossier about Cohen was true. And this is contrary to what you’ve seen when dossier claims are put forward. The dossier, of course, is the entire reason why we’ve had so much hysteria related to Russian – Russia and treasonous collusion. It is what fed the fire leading to a special counsel. It is what people are very frustrated about with how the Department of Justice chooses to handle one political investigation versus another.

And this is a very serious concern that the media are not – the media have a role here. They have to hold people accountable and speak truth to power. When the power is all that strength of the Department of Justice, it’s just as important as when it is Donald Trump. And they’re failing here.

BAIER: You know, not to take away from what we’re gonna learn and what we’ve see develop and what’s happening, but the fact that that wasn’t even talked about in all of those Lanny Davis interviews is really quite something. If you look at the original report and what was said and how it was picked up.

AMY WALTER [COOK POLITICAL REPORT]: Well, and you have to question, what do we ultimately not know? I mean this is where we – every time we have these discussions about any part of the Mueller investigation, it always comes back to this, which is, we really don’t know what we don’t know. There’s one person who has a lot of information, his name’s Robert Mueller. That’s the only person that has a lot of that information.

HEMINGWAY: That has been said to people for so long and I think it’s a really frustrating thing to say. You can go wild with anonymous accusations, you can undermined a presidency, you can sideline the attorney general, you can get people fired, you can destroy people’s careers, and people keep saying, “Well, we don’t know what we don’t know.” At some point there needs to be accountability here. And that is something that the media could help with.

WALTER: Well, you know what I think would be great, too, is if on Capitol Hill Republicans said, “You know what we should do? We should have an investigation into these Michael Cohen accusations. We should have an investigation into what did he actually – he said something to us, is that true? Is it not true?”

HEMINGWAY: Well, they did. They did. They went back and they asked him.

BAIER: Well, time out, we’ve got to move on because we’ve got another topic They are going to call – or they’re saying they’re going to call him back up to Capitol Hill.

WALTER: I doubt that’s going to happen.

BAIER: We shall see.

NBDaily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Media Bias Debate Bias by Omission Conservatives & Republicans ABC CBS NBC Fox News Channel Special Report Fake News Video Michael Cohen Bret Baier Donald Trump Lanny Davis

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