Earlier this week, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell tried to break a “bombshell” report about President Donald Trump’s finances.
But after Trump’s lawyers threatened to sue over the “false” report, O’Donnell quit defending it and apologized for reporting the story without properly vetting it.
The Single-Source No-No
While appearing with fellow MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, O’Donnell reported his “source” had seen Trump’s tax returns that were used in a Deutsche Bank loan.
The two details he focused on were Trump’s tax rate as well as the alleged “fact” that Russian oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin co-signed the loan for Trump. “That would explain, it seems to me, every kind word that Donald Trump has ever said about Russia and Vladimir Putin, if true, and I stress the ‘if true’ part of this,” O’Donnell said in his initial report.
While it is unclear if the tax rate aspect was true or not, it is public record that Trump did not have a co-signer for the loan, Trump’s lawyer said.
“The only borrowers under these loans are Trump entities, and Mr. Trump is the only guarantor,” Trump’s lawyer wrote in a letter to NBC, demanding a retraction.
“Numerous documents for each of these loans are also recorded, publicly available and searchable online,” he wrote. “Thus, actual malice can easily be proven based on your reckless disregard of the truth and unreasonable reliance on an alleged ‘source’ who you will not even identify in your story and likely is seeking to mislead you and the public for political reasons or other ulterior motives.”
Immediately after the story was broadcast, Trump’s attorney threated to sue over the “false” and “defamatory” story. O’Donnell was forced to apologize, and did, somewhat.
He retracted the report and apologized for not properly vetting the story, but never apologized to Trump for reporting a false story.
Actually, in his lame apology, he stated he still did not know if the story as he reported was true or not, just that he had not followed network protocol for vetting a story. “Tonight we are retracting the story,” O’Donnell said. “We don’t know whether the information is inaccurate but the fact is we do know it wasn’t ready for broadcast and for that I apologize.”
This misreporting by O’Donnell is a massive blow to MSNBC, a network that is already struggling in the rating wars.
The fact that MSNBC has not yet announced any disciplinary actions against O’Donnell, who also has his own show on the network, is destroying their credibility even more.