Last week the New York Times published an article by Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman and Julian E. Barnes about how the Trump administration is looking for evidence to show that the claim Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 election on his behalf is false. (In fact, Trump’s claim is that Russia was working to facilitate the election of Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump.)
Here are the first two paragraphs:
Trump administration officials investigating the government’s response to Russia’s election interference in 2016 appear to be hunting for a basis to accuse Obama-era intelligence officials of hiding evidence or manipulating analysis about Moscow’s covert operation, according to people familiar with aspects of the inquiry.
Since his election, President Trump has attacked the intelligence agencies that concluded that Russia secretly tried to help him win, fostering a narrative that they sought to delegitimize his victory. He has long promoted the investigation by John H. Durham, the prosecutor examining their actions, as a potential pathway to proving that a deep-state cabal conspired against him.
This being the New York Times, the article is heavily weighted toward the conclusion that the claim of pro-Trump Russian interference is legitimate. That, by itself, would diminish it as a straight news story.
But – again, this being the New York Times – that was not enough. Here is the article’s headline and sub-head:
Justice Dept. Is Investigating C.I.A. Resistance to Sharing Russia Secrets
The prosecutor was assigned by the attorney general to scrutinize the agents and analysts who sought to understand Russia’s covert operation to help Donald J. Trump win the 2016 election.
Does that suggest there is any doubt at all about Russia’s pro-Trump involvement? That there is even a one tenth of one percent of doubt?
Nope. It is written as a statement of indisputable fact.
With this introduction, are readers then supposed to continue with an open mind about whether the claim is true. After being told it was true? Yeah, right.
It is exactly this kind of advocacy-posing-as-journalism that caused me to give up on the New York Times.