If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. That’s the lesson Rachel Maddow wants reporters to remember in the coming days, as they wade through potential landmines disguised as juicy leaks on the Russian election interference story. She herself was the recipient of a document she thinks was forged. Maddow told her viewers:
Somebody, for some reason, appears to be shopping a fairly convincing fake NSA document that purports to directly implicate somebody from the Trump campaign in working with the Russians on their attack on the elections. It is either a forgery or every single national security official we consulted about this story is wrong about it.“
What’s more, the longtime investigative journalist thinks she knows why, as well:
One way to stab in the heart aggressive American reporting on that subject is to lay traps for American journalists who are reporting on it. Trick news organizations into reporting what appears to be evidence of what happened, and then after the fact, blow that reporting up. You then hurt the credibility on that news organization, you also cast a shadow on any similar reporting in the future, whether or not it’s true.”
We’ve already seen it happen. In 2004, Dan Rather was handed memos detailing George W. Bush’s service record in the Texas Air National Guard, and he reported on them as though they were authentic. Dan was run out of the media on a rail when it was discovered that the four memos he presented were forged. But the maddening part is, nearly all of the information in the memos ended up being true, corroborated later by other, authenticated accounts.
It was too late. Bush was re-elected in 2004, and one of America’s greatest newsmen fell from grace. Rachel concurs:
Even if it’s true, you plant a permanent question, an asterisk … So heads up everybody.”
Someone with a vested interest in making the Trump/Russia story go away is planting fakes, and just hoping that some reporter will take the bait. Perhaps Maddow’s advance warning will serve both to keep other journalists aware, and to put a little marker on the day these fake NSA memos started showing up.
Watch the clip here:
Featured image via Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images