MSNBC called it a retraction. Lawrence O’Donnell called it a retraction too. Yet nowhere in this apology does O’Donnell actually retract his claim that Russian oligarchs co-signed Donald Trump’s loans from Deutsche Bank. Instead, O’Donnell apologizes for not vetting the story more thoroughly before it went on the air (via Twitchy):
WATCH: Lawrence O'Donnell retracts his reporting about Trump loans. pic.twitter.com/JxNsIPhBNg
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) August 29, 2019
When you state that “we don’t know if the information is inaccurate,” that’s not really a retraction. That’s a rather telling hedge, too, as MSNBC producer Michael DelMoro admitted yesterday that O’Donnell’s source hadn’t even seen the bank records to confirm the claim for him/herself, let alone produce the documents for NBC’s review. At best the claim was secondhand hearsay with no evidentiary value at all. It’s closer to a chatroom rumor that O’Donnell chose to amplify on a national broadcast.
Besides, if it was a retraction, wouldn’t O’Donnell have deleted this tweet?
A source close to Deutsche Bank says Trump’s tax returns show he pays very little income tax and, more importantly, that his loans have Russian co-signers.
If true, that explains every kind word Trump has ever said about Russia and Putin. @TheLastWord 10pm
— Lawrence O'Donnell (@Lawrence) August 28, 2019
As of 8 am ET this morning, that tweet is still live on O’Donnell’s Twitter thread, and has over 37,700 retweets and almost 90,000 likes. A lie — excuse me, a potential inaccuracy, according to O’Donnell — may get around the world before the truth gets its boots on, but usually a responsible journalist won’t keep the lie on world tour after offering a supposed “retraction.”
Trump’s complaints about “fake news” often get tiresome and are almost always self serving. Hard to complain about it here, though:
The totally inaccurate reporting by Lawrence O’Donnell, for which he has been forced by NBC to apologize, is NO DIFFERENT than the horrible, corrupt and fraudulent Fake News that I (and many millions of GREAT supporters) have had to put up with for years. So bad for the USA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2019
One might even chalk up this claimed “retraction” as fake news. The original report was a black eye for NBC News and MSNBC, but at least that was mostly O’Donnell’s doing. The ongoing attempt to keep the rumor alive even while claiming a “retraction” is perhaps even worse, and even more indicative of the values of NBC/MSNBC than the original offense.