Those Publications Need to Clean This Up

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CNN is now reporting that the CIA/State shake-up story that roiled the news this morning was in fact an effort to send a message to and shame Rex Tillerson. That is hardly surprising given President Trump’s way of doing business for decades. But there’s more to it than that.

This new report at least suggests that the initial news reports this morning were false.

Now, this is mushy. It may be that the President is in fact planning this shake up, that it is happening and that he also leaked news of the plan to shame Tillerson. But that’s more plausible in a notional sense than an actual one. This morning’s report was that it’s happening. It could happen today or it could happen by the end of the year. But it’s happening. And you’re finding out about something that is happening.

Now it seems that that’s not quite the case. If it’s really happening there isn’t a lot of need to send Tillerson a message or shame him. Just do it. What it seems like is that a lot of the prestige publications got hoodwinked into delivering a message which they thought was a news story.

As I said, in theory it could be both. But in practice, not really.

I don’t blame them for getting punked. We don’t have a lot of experience with this sort of pathological lying at the highest levels of government. Or to be more specific, governments lie. That’s as old as the hills. But they don’t usually lie in the morning and then say in the afternoon “Yes, we were lying. Ha ha.” That puts the news organizations in a bad spot.

Some reporters really need to have a talk with their sources.

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Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.
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