MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell joined his fellow co-conspirator Rachel Maddow in the fake news Hall of Shame on Tuesday after peddling yet another blatantly false, unverified Russia bombshell from “a single source.”
He reported on the air and in a tweet that Deutsche Bank confirmed it was in possession of some of President Donald Trump’s tax returns, and cited an anonymous source who claimed that Trump’s real estate loans with the bank were co-signed by Russian oligarchs with close ties to Putin. The story was immediately debunked by Trump’s attorneys.
On Thursday the president unloaded on the MSNBC host in a series of tweets.
“Crazy Lawrence O’Donnell, who has been calling me wrong from even before I announced my run for the Presidency, even being previously forced by NBC to apologize, which he did while crying, for things he said about me & The Apprentice, was again forced to apologize, this time…..”
“….for the most ridiculous claim of all, that Russia, Russia, Russia, or Russian oligarchs, co-signed loan documents for me, a guarantee. Totally false, as is virtually everything else he, and much of the rest of the LameStream Media, has said about me for years. ALL APOLOGIZE!”
MSNBC is infamously anti-Trump and aligns with the president’s political enemies who churn out these smears and hand them to their network partners to broadcast.
“I want to get your reaction to what it could mean if true, and I stress if true because this is a single source — ,” O’Donnell told Maddow on Tuesday. He struggled to keep a straight face while reading from his fake news script.
“And this single source close to Deutsche Bank has told me that … Donald Trump’s loan documents there show that he has co-signers. That’s how he was able to obtain those loans. And that the co-signers are Russian oligarchs.
His partner in crime, Maddow, feigned surprise, “What? Really?”
“That would explain, it seems to me, every kind word Donald Trump has ever said about Russia and Vladimir Putin, if true, and I stress the ‘if true’ part of this,” said O’Donnell.
Twitter hatchetmen were standing by to ensure O’Donnell’s tweet went viral and a hashtag ‘#RussianCosigners’ quickly trended #2 in the U.S.
“If true,” said O’Donnell, “that would explain every kind word Donald Trump has ever said about Russia and Vladimir Putin.”
“If true, that would be a significant factor in Vladimir Putin’s publicly stated preference for presidential candidate Donald Trump over presidential candidate Hillary Clinton,” O’Donnell added.
“Now, I want to stress, that’s a single source,” he said. “This has not been confirmed by NBC News. I have not seen any documentation from Deutsche Bank that supports this and verifies this. This is just a single source who has revealed that to me. And that’s where that stands at this point. It’s going to need a lot more verification before that can be a confirmable fact.”
Stories connecting President Donald Trump with criminal activity in Russia and with oligarchs have been repeatedly debunked, yet news outlets like MSNBC continue to concoct them without any concern for their credibility.
Journalists like O’Donnell and Maddow have dropped all pretenses that they care about their reputations or adhere to any professional standards. The ultimate goal is to politically damage the president and they know they will not be held accountable by their media bosses, who are also contemptuous of Trump.
The president’s attorney Charles Harder promptly sent a letter to NBC demanding a retraction. “These statements are false and defamatory, and extremely damaging,” Harder wrote. He emphasized that there are no co-signers on Trump’s Deutsche Bank loans.
“The only borrowers under these loans are Trump entities, and Mr. Trump is the only guarantor,’ he declared. ‘Numerous documents for each of these loans are also recorded, publicly available and searchable online.”
“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.”
‘Actual malice’ is a legal standard that applies to public figures who sue for libel or slander. They must prove that the defendant was reckless and published a lie despite knowing, or being expected to know, that it was false.
The network had already conceded there was no evidence to support the story and O’Donnell’s source hadn’t seen banking records.
On Wednesday, O’Donnell was forced to admit the report was fake in a hilarious tweet.
“Last night I made an error in judgment by reporting an item about the president’s finances that didn’t go through our rigorous verification and standards process. I shouldn’t have reported it and I was wrong to discuss it on the air.”
He apologized again Wednesday night at the start of his show.
“Last night on this show, I discussed information that wasn’t ready for reporting,” O’Donnell said. “I repeated statements a single source told me about the president’s finances and loan documents with Deutsche Bank saying ‘if true’– as I discussed the information– was simply not good enough.”
Will his retraction go viral on Twitter? This is highly unlikely, and this is why Trump’s opponents continue to push fake stories into the public sphere, knowing that they will gain much more traction than the retractions.
This a major embarrassment for the Russia hoaxers in the media who are often caught like deers in headlights, struggling to maintain a facade of professionalism while reporting garbage.
The public knows there is no rigorous verification process at MSNBC. Its hosts report one debunked smear after another without any consequences. What will it take for the network to curb this behavior? Our journalists have become a disgrace to the profession worldwide.