Former FBI Director James Comey blasted the media during his Thursday hearing, reiterating that many news reports based on the Russia investigation are “dead wrong.”
In particular, he verified that a major New York Times story – one that helped fuel the unproven Trump-Russian collusion allegation for months – was “almost entirely wrong.”
News stories about Russia that are allegedly based on “classified leaks” are a persistent problem for the FBI, explained Comey, because the media often receives bad information.
“There have been many, many stories based on – well, lots of stuff, but about Russia that are dead wrong,” said Comey on Thursday.
On February 14th, the New York Times published a story titled “Trump Campaign Aides had Repeated Contacts with Russian Intelligence.” The report claimed that members of Trump’s campaign team had “repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election.”
When asked by Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) if the article was “almost entirely wrong,” Comey confirmed that it was.
In response, the NY Times has argued that sources cited in the report have vouched for the information they put forth – but for some reason the Times was unable to contact those sources immediately following the testimony.
Inaccurate reports are especially frustrating for the FBI because the agency’s policy is not to comment on the media’s coverage of its activity. “The challenge…about writing stories about classified information, is the people talking about it often don’t really know what’s going on, and those of us who actually know what’s going on are not talking bout it,” said Comey.
“We don’t call the press and say, ‘Hey, you got that thing wrong.’”