Fake News: WaPo's Christopher Ingraham Spreads Falsehood from Mueller Indictment

The Washington Post‘s Christopher Ingraham is the latest reporter to tweet erroneous information about President Donald Trump, only to provide a (much less viral) clarification after a fact check spoiled his fantasy of “out in the open” Russian collusion.

Ingraham, a data reporter for the Jeff Bezos-owned newspaper, claimed Russian hackers first targeted members of the Clinton campaign following candidate Trump’s joke about retrieving the former Secretary of State’s deleted emails. Ingraham made this connection based on a passage in the Justice Department’s indictment of 12 Russian intelligence operatives.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump quipped during a July 27, 2016 press conference. Ingraham saw that same date in the indictment PDF and leaped into action to connect the dots (which the Special Counsel did not): “that evening, Russian operatives targeted Clinton campaign emails ‘for the first time.’”

Ingraham then laid out the conspiracy theory, in case anyone missed the implication: “Trump called on Russia to hack the Clinton campaign, and they did.”

For the Washington Post reporter, this portion of special counsel Mueller’s latest indictment suggested the smoking gun proving collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia was “out in the open the whole time.” “I don’t know how you can be Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan and be okay with this,” he added.

Less than 10 minutes after Ingraham’s faux-discovery, Vox reporter Andrew Prokop corrected Ingraham, noting the indictment actually states the alleged hackers launched spearphishing attacks against more than 30 Clinton campaign staffers on April 6, 2016. Prokop further noted Donald Trump’s joke was about Hillary Clinton’s missing emails from her personal, unsecured server used for State Department business — not those of her presidential campaign.

The only Clinton operative inbox that appears to have been compromised was that of campaign chairman John Podesta. The most recent Podesta emails released by Wikileaks were from March 2016.

Ingraham later conceded to botching the story’s timeline, tweeting: “Important clarification as @awprokop notes: The Russians had been targeting the Clinton campaign since at least April. But after Trump’s plea it looks they stepped up their spearfishing [sic] efforts and targeted certain accounts for the first time.” Despite claiming proof of Trump-Russia collusion has always been publicly available, Ingraham has yet to delete his initial tweet, allowing the erroneous reporting to continue going viral with 5,331 retweets and 6,345 likes as the article at hand is published.

Ingraham is hardly the first establishment reporter to share a hot scoop on Twitter — only to reveal its baselessness after the claim goes viral among left-wing verified accounts. NBC’s Capitol Hill reporter Leigh Ann Caldwell made a wholly unsubstantiated claim Tuesday that President Trump and Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy negotiated a secret deal assuring Brett Kavanaugh would be nominated to the bench.

“On Kavanaugh pick Kennedy and Trump/WH had been in negotiations for months over Kennedy’s replacement. Once Kennedy received assurances that it would be Kavanaugh, his former law clerk, Kennedy felt comfortable retiring, according to a source who was told of the discussions,” Caldwell tweeted hours after President Trump announced Kavanaugh as his second Supreme Court Justice pick. Caldwell then alleged that a handful of judges added to President Trump’s Federalist Approved list in November, which included Kavanaugh, were “cover,” designed to obfuscate the secret agreement.

Next came the caveat. “To be clear: This is from one source and dont have any info on whether potus talked to kennedy about a possible replacement,” Caldwell added. The embarrassed NBC reporter then deleted the tweet, admitting that it “incorrectly implie[d] a transactional nature in Kennedy’s replacement.”

Caldwell did not face any repercussions for the false tweet.

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