It was an embarrassing moment for one of cable television’s most cutting anchors – well, an embarrassing 21 minutes, actually. During the opening segment of her show recently, MSNBC‘s Rachel Maddow confessed publicly that she was duped by a phony NSA (National Security Agency) document she received into believing that President Trump had colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 presidential election – and it was all because of her failure to properly fact-check and verify the document.
Upon receiving the document from an “anonymous source” – this being the very same “evidence” that all the other networks are using to push the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory – Maddow was all too happy to report on it as an “exclusive” scoop. It was to become the smoking gun proving that the president had worked in lockstep with the Kremlin to manipulate voters into picking him for president over Clinton (and presumably the crowning pinnacle of Maddow’s career for breaking it to the world).
But everything came crashing down when Maddow discovered that the document was fraudulent. It had apparently been ripped from another document first published by The Intercept just a few days prior. Maddow quickly reported on her discovery as a “heads up” to other news organizations that may have also received the document, warning them that someone was apparently trying to derail the Trump-Russia investigation by attempting to discredit the media outlets reporting on it.
In her opening segment exposé on the subject, though, Maddow made several insinuations that were patently false. Not one to let her lack of fact-checking skills supersede her hatred for the president, Maddow made reference to some time stamps on the fraudulent document that she claimed pointed to an insider – possibly someone from the Trump administration – who may have planted the document in her inbox in an attempt to discredit her. There’s only one problem, though: she didn’t even accurately read the time stamp.
Maddow claimed during the segment that the time stamp on the document she received indicated that it was produced before the document that was published by The Intercept. In her mind, this showed that someone had access to it before The Intercept did, and that this could have been a Trump operative working on behalf of the administration to make fools out of the mainstream media outlets trying to go after him.
But in a follow-up to Maddow’s shoddy reporting on the phony document, The Intercept published its own story on the subject showing that Maddow had failed to properly read the time stamp. The phony document that Maddow received, reported The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald, actually had the exact same time stamp – down to the second – as the one The Intercept published days earlier. In other words, someone simply ripped the document from The Intercept‘s website, doctored it up some, and sent it on over to MSNBC as if it was from the NSA.
If Maddow had taken the time to contact The Intercept after receiving this document she would have quickly learned the truth – but she didn’t. Instead, she proceeded to make more wild conspiracy theory claims on her show that have since been debunked as little more than anti-Trump hysteria.
“Despite the fact that she received the document two days after The Intercept published it, Maddow nonetheless suggested that the document may have been forged before The Intercept’s publication — meaning that the forger had access to the document prior to our publication of it.,” wrote Greenwald, explaining that the time stamp on the metadata file that The Intercept published is exactly the same as the one Maddow received.
“… anyone who took the document directly from The Intercept‘s site would have a document with exactly the same time stamp as the one Maddow showed. Thus, rather than proving that this document was created before The Intercept‘s publication, the time stamp featured by Maddow strongly suggests exactly the opposite: that it was taken from The Intercept’s site.”
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