The Transom, Ben Domenech, June 9, 2017

Why Comey’s dismissal of a February New York Times report is significant.  “In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, former FBI director James Comey revealed that a February New York Times article, which asserted that Trump associates and campaign members had “repeated contacts with Russian intelligence” was mostly false. Responding to Virginia senator Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the committee, Comey testified that “in the main,” [the report] “was not true.”

‘The challenge — and I’m not picking on reporters — about writing on classified information is the people talking about it often don’t really know what’s going on and those of us who know what’s going on are not talking about it, and we don’t call the press to say, “Hey, you got that thing wrong about this sensitive topic.”’

“The Times published the article just one day after Michael Flynn resigned as Trump’s national-security adviser after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his interactions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Until today, the February report had not been substantially contested or refuted, and its claims had been widely propagated throughout the media. Although The Atlantic questioned the “murky” quality of its anonymous sources, CNN and MSBNC covered the report as fact. CNN claimed to have independently confirmed the report a day later with the network’s own unnamed “law enforcement and administration” sources.

“Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the Times, doubled down on the report’s reliability following Trump’s CPAC speech during which the president berated the paper’s use of anonymous sources. Baquet told CNN’s Brian Stelter, “I always know who the sources are for these stories. That’s why I’m so confident pushing back at the Trump administration when they criticize the stories.” More on this.