Political journalism organization Politico has come under fire this week after it published an article that first accused Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson of lying about being verbally offered a scholarship by a West Point recruiter before it was edited to reflect the fact that Politico’s confirmation that Carson did not follow through with the admissions process at West Point does not itself constitute proof that Carson lied about anything.
Meanwhile, questions have been raised across the conservative blogosphere about other Politico articles that have been driving similarly-negative narratives about Republican candidates. For example, the media-driven narrative that Rand Paul’s campaign is on a downward spiral relies heavily on an primarily anonymously-sourced Politico piece making that claim.
Another article‘s headline oversells a pro-Carson tweet by Kentucky Governor-elect Matt Bevin and Bevin’s reluctance to endorse anyone in the 2016 presidential race during a gubernatorial campaign debate as a “snub” of Rand Paul, despite being updated to include a Bevin response to the contrary. Another Politico article on Paul claims that anonymous Republican strategists of thus-unverifiable significance are calling for him to drop out of the presidential race to focus on his Ky. Senate run.
An anonymously-sourced Politico piece on Donald Trump accuses him of violating a campaign pledge by secretly courting wealthy GOP donors including the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, and Paul Singer.
In an interview with Donald Trump, Breitbart’s Stephen K. Bannon decried a Politico article on Trump which he said had “novelistic tendencies” and added, “I don’t think there were any named sources.”
Trump told Bannon, “I find Politico to be one of the most dishonest organizations I have ever dealt with. They are, in my opinion, some of the most dishonest people I have ever dealt with. Generally, it is not true what they write… I was in Phoenix. We had thousands of people. We had a tremendous rally. Politico said it was 4000 people. The next day Sen. Bernie Sanders was there — he had a smaller crowd and Politico said he had 15,000.”
“In a later story, Politico said they were reducing the 4,000 to 2,000. … They were so dishonest… Maybe they don’t like me. I have always heard that they were liberal-leaning. But I don’t know why. … We get very dishonest coverage from Politico and eventually that catches up to you,” added Trump.
Another article dismissing allegations that Hillary Clinton’s private emails contain classified information had relied on an anonymous source, though the protection of sources amid the intelligence community, where leaks can have life or death consequences, is different than the shrouding of the opinions of Republican Party or presidential candidates’ campaign officials.
Politico has not yet responded to a Truth in Media request for a comment on its use of anonymous sources in its reporting on Republican presidential candidates.