AP Retracts FAKE Trump Story

In a story earlier this week, The New York Times repeated the false claim that 17 intelligence agencies concurred in the post-election report on Russian meddling.

On Thursday, the Times appended a correction to her article:

A White House Memo article on Monday about President Trump’s deflections and denials about Russia referred incorrectly to the source of an intelligence assessment that said Russia orchestrated hacking attacks during last year’s presidential election. The assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.

Now the AP has separately retracted“clarified” the false claim, conceding in a release it’s not the case that 17 intelligence agencies “agreed” on the hacking narrative of Trump/Russia hacking narrative. Here is the text:

In stories published April 6, June 2, June 26 and June 29, The Associated Press reported that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies have agreed that Russia tried to influence the 2016 election to benefit Donald Trump. That assessment was based on information collected by three agencies – the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency – and published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which represents all U.S. intelligence agencies. Not all 17 intelligence agencies were involved in reaching the assessment.

Both The NYT and the AP now say the claim they’ve been floating for months is incorrect.

Powerline notes the reference seems to be to the post-election report whose declassified version is posted online here. Dated January 6, 2017, the report is stamped with the logo of the ODNI. It states expressly that the analytic assessment was “drafted and coordinated among The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and The National Security Agency (NSA), which draws on intelligence information collected and disseminated by those three agencies.”

As the Daily Caller suggests, the AP “clarification” is unclear in at least a couple of respects.

The timing of both corrections is odd, since the facts of the claim have not changed since it began circulating in October of 2016, just before the presidential election, and the figure was clearly debunked as early as May of this year. Hillary Clinton used the large number to ridicule Trump on the campaign trail, and has reiterated the claim in recent months, along with other Democrats and members of the press.

Why a “clarification” and why now?

While the AP identified four reports in which the false claim ran, it’s unlikely all of those reports will be corrected, since the wire service reports are blasted out to news outlets all over the world for publication, the DC explains.