As Twitchy reported Tuesday, the Guardian had quite the scoop: It reported that President Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, had met repeatedly in secret with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
Manafort denied the report, and WikiLeaks wagered “a million dollars and its editor’s head that Manafort never met Assange.” WikiLeaks kept the pressure on the Guardian throughout the day, and the Guardian seemed to blink, doing some stealth-editing of the piece, like appending the all-important “sources say” disclaimer to its headline.
As you may know, the Weekly Standard is an official Facebook fact-checker (a fact that really ticks off ThinkProgress’s Judd Legum), and Bill Kristol is editor-at-large of the Weekly Standard. So … who should fact-check this?
Hi Weekly Standard Fact Check I'd like to report fake news that was posted on the Twitters yesterday, can you correct this please? pic.twitter.com/FDvlouf2aj
— Julie Kelly (@julie_kelly2) November 28, 2018
— michael destefano (@mtd10mm) November 28, 2018
— Greg Bed (@gregbed) November 28, 2018
We’re not saying it’s fake news, but it sure sounds like fake news, as Molly Hemingway pointed out at The Federalist.
Manafort/Assange Drama Shows Media Buy Any Russia Conspiracy Story No Matter Its Flaws https://t.co/2rF1OFCZAS
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) November 28, 2018
I suppose it’s possible that this outlandish story has merit, that a close ally of Trump was working with WikiLeaks in an election year and it never managed to come out or get leaked, wasn’t caught on visitor logs or by any of the U.K.’s over-eager spies who were all over everyone else who knew Trump. It’s possible that Manafort missed any of the gazillion cameras trained on visitors to the Ecuadorian embassy and was able to evade any intelligence gathering about this meeting. It’s possible, but to believe it or take it seriously, you’d have to have much better sourcing, particularly since Fusion-allied groups have a reputation of planting such stories with friendly journalists.
There is no Fusion GPS-sourced story so fake and bereft of evidence that it won’t be peddled by addled conspiracy theorists like @BillKristol and @KenDilanianNBC. They’re the Russian collusion equivalents of Ron Burgundy and the TelePrompTer. https://t.co/Ij0tBDhA3W
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) November 28, 2018
Striking catalog of reflexive, credulous acceptance of a story that looked shaky from the start and looks more so by the day. https://t.co/aLATWVH3S0
— Brit Hume (@brithume) November 28, 2018
There was no meeting between Manafort and Assange. Assange couldn't have meetings with people.
The Guardian story is a hit piece and nothing else. WikiLeaks and Assange are suing for defamation.
— Chris the Goat (Dragon Energy) (@ChristianO0214) November 28, 2018
Couldn’t have meetings? It wasn’t so long ago that the Guardian reported that the embassy was threatening to cut off Assange’s internet access if he didn’t clean up after himself and feed the cat.
The Ecuadorians told their petulant no-rent boarder that he must clean up after himself, stop using the internet to send nasty notes to London and Washington, feed the cat and take a bath.
The cantankerous Mr #Assange responded by suing them. https://t.co/66YxNMXuak
— Laurie Garrett (@Laurie_Garrett) October 19, 2018
Hey, maybe the story about the meetings with Manafort is true, but we haven’t seen any other news outlets jump on the Guardian’s big scoop. Can we get a fact-check?
The Guardian seems to be walking back its story about Paul Manafort meeting with Julian Assange https://t.co/QL4MuzY2S1
— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) November 27, 2018