Two months ago, in early January, The Washington Post exclusively revealed that former U.S. President Donald Trump “pressured a Georgia election investigator” to “find fraud” and that she would be a “national hero” in return.
Yet the quote turned out to be incorrect and inaccurate. It was made clear by the Post itself, which, two months after releasing its exclusive, underhandedly wrote the following correction:
Correction: Two months after the publication of this story, the Georgia secretary of state released an audio recording of President Donald Trump’s December phone call with the state’s top elections investigator. The recording revealed that The Post misquoted Trump’s comments on the call, based on information provided by a source. Trump did not tell the investigator to “find the fraud” or say she would be “a national hero” if she did so. Instead, Trump urged the investigator to scrutinize ballots in Fulton County, Ga., asserting she would find “dishonesty” there. He also told her that she had “the most important job in the country right now.” A story about the recording can be found here. The headline and text of this story have been corrected to remove quotes misattributed to Trump.
The headline now reads “Trump pressured a Georgia elections investigator in a separate call legal experts say could amount to obstruction” as opposed to “‘Find the fraud’: Trump pressured a Georgia elections investigator in a separate call legal experts say could amount to obstruction.”
An embarassing correction
The damage has already been done. The “Trump’s call” story turned out to have inaccurate content. But, even so, the information was massively disseminated by all the media. The New York Times, CNN, the Post itself, and also the media most sympathetic to the former president covered the news with exact quotes from The Washington Post, relying on the journalistic rigor of the long-lived medium.
The Washington Post, with its correction, “quietly admitted that the former president never asked the state’s top election investigator to ‘find fraud’, but rather encouraged the official to ‘scrutinize’ the ballots”, according to The National Pulse, one of the media outlets that covered The Post’s correction.
The Post further admitted that its quotes were based “on information provided by a source,” thus also admitting that they did not accurately and rigorously cross-check the information disclosed by their own source.
In this way, the original story has a radical twist. And it lays bare hundreds of stories related to Trump’s famous call to the Georgia election official.
Reactions to the correction
Many people on networks are already speaking out on social media regarding The Washington Post’s self-correction.
“Washington Post retracts massive story that falsely claimed Trump asked Georgia to ‘find the votes,'” wrote journalists Jack Posobiec.
Politico’s Alex Thompson also reacted to the news: