The Georgia Secretary of State official who was the anonymous source for a Washington Post story about former U.S. President Donald Trump — a story that people now discredit — said Tuesday the paper got the story correct.
This, aside from a few minor mistakes, said Georgia Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs, the anonymous source, as The Post confirmed last week.
The Post story cited Trump’s phone call late last year with Georgia Secretary of State Chief Investigator Frances Watson. During that call, Trump urged Watson to look for fraudulent mail-in ballots in Fulton County. The paper said Trump’s conduct and words — which the paper now admits it took out of context — constituted criminal behavior.
Writers at The Post, upon discovering new evidence, this week corrected their story.
But Fuchs told The Georgia Star News Tuesday that The Post story was mostly faithful to what really happened.
“I believe the [original] story accurately reflected the investigator’s interpretation of the call,” Fuchs said in an emailed statement.
“The only mistake here was in the direct quotes, and they should have been more of a summary.”
Georgia GOP Chair David Shafer on Monday tweeted The Post’s correction and said “the paper retracted its false reporting” that Trump told investigators to “find the fraud.”
“The Secretary of State’s office secretly recorded the conversation, mischaracterized its contents to The Washington Post and then attempted to delete the recording,” Shafer tweeted.
“It was recently discovered in a laptop ‘trash’ folder as part of an open records search.”
Former State Rep. Vernon Jones also tweeted about the story.
“It has now been uncovered that the Georgia Secretary of State released a deceptively edited recording of the president, in an attempt to embarrass him and mislead the public,” Jones wrote.
“He should resign immediately. Georgians deserve better.”
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger did not respond to The Star News’ request for comment on the matter.
Writers for The Post, in their correction, said the following
“Two months after publication of this story, the Georgia secretary of state released an audio recording of President Donald Trump’s December phone call with the state’s top elections investigator. The recording revealed that The Post misquoted Trump’s comments on the call, based on information provided by a source. Trump did not tell the investigator to ‘find the fraud’ or say she would be ‘a national hero” if she did so,’” according to The Post.
“Instead, Trump urged the investigator to scrutinize ballots in Fulton County, Ga., asserting she would find ‘dishonesty’ there. He also told her that she had ‘the most important job in the country right now.’ A story about the recording can be found here. The headline and text of this story have been corrected to remove quotes misattributed to Trump.”
In The Washington Post’s original story, the paper said “the president’s attempts to intervene in an ongoing investigation could amount to obstruction of justice or other criminal violations, legal experts said, though they cautioned a case could be difficult to prove.”
The Post writers withheld the name of the investigator, “who did not respond to repeated requests for comment, because of the risk of threats and harassment directed at election officials.”
The paper then quoted DeKalb County attorney Robert James who said that no one could prove Trump’s wrongdoing — without the audio of the call.
Washington Examiner columnist Becket Adams, in his account of The Post correction, said that other national outlets reported the same incorrect story as The Post.
“The uncomfortable questions we are left with now are: To whom did these other news outlets speak? Did they all speak to Fuchs? How did the source or sources for NBC, ABC, and USA Today get the details of the phone call wrong? Are there additional examples of the media reporting bad information provided by anonymous sources we don’t know about, merely because there’s no contradictory audio or video?” Adams asked.
“Just how many anonymously sourced stories are false? If it can happen this easily, who is to say it doesn’t happen often? Further, how many of these anonymously sourced stories have enjoyed the backing of supposed independent corroboration when, in fact, newsrooms most likely talked to the same person or people?”
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Jordan M. Fuchs” by Jordan M. Fuchs. Background Photo “Georgia Capitol” by DXR. CC BY-SA 4.0.