White House Under Fire Over Editing Of Transcript and Video Of Press Conference In Helinski

download.jpgThe late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said that “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” That distinction may have been lost in the editing of the controversial press conference in Helinski with President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Arguably the most important and most reporting part of the press conference was a question and answer involving Putin, where he admitted that the Russians wanted Trump to win the presidential election.  An official transcript of the press conference, however, by the White House omits the key controversial part of the question by Reuters reporter Jeff Mason.  Additionally, the White House videotape omits the same information.  The discrepancies have been raised with the White House but no change has been made.  This is a serious problem given the fact that this is an official record being released to the public.  In fairness to the White House, some news organizations also omitted the language and, as noted by the Atlantic, the clarity of the question was muddled due to cross talk and movement. It could indeed be due to “feed issues.” The Atlantic cites two news organizations with the same editing:the Federal News Service and Bloomberg Government.  Nevertheless, the question was clearly stated by Mason but edited out of the transcript.  If this was (as claimed) a transcription or feed error, then it should have been corrected. It has not.

Mason asked “President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?”Putin then responds with “Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.”Part of the problem is the overlap with the English translation from Putin’s prior response, but the question can be clearly heard and Putin appears to answer the first part.  While “Yes, I did” could be taken as referring to the direction to the officials, it seems more tied to the first half of the question on wanting Trump to win.

However, the transcript shows the following exchange with the first part of the question removed:

PRESIDENT PUTIN: That could be a first step, and we can also extend it. Options abound, and they all can be found in an appropriate legal framework.

Q: And did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?

PRESIDENT PUTIN:  Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.–Russia relationship back to normal.

Again, in fairness to the White House, it is worth noting that the editing is actually worse than the likely intended meaning. The omission of the first part of the question makes it sound like Putin just admitted to ordering the interference with the election, which he continued to deny in the press conference.

Making matters worse is the editing of the White House videotape.  Even if the cross talk is used to justify the omission in the transcript, there is no reason why someone would go in and cut off the first part of the question from Mason.  Again there could be a feed issue, but this was one of the most reported exchanges of the conference and should have been noticed as missing in the video and transcripted records.

The editing should have been corrected days ago.  The question was clearly stated and answered by Putin, who would never had said that he ordered the election interference.  I fail to see how such a ham-handed effort at editing could have passed review at the White House.  Many are likely to demand answers and the public has a right to know about how this occurred.

Russia deleted the entire exchange, of course, but we are not Russia.  Given the immediate outrage over the press conference statement, the White House should have been particularly careful to preserve the record for the public to read and see. It can then reach its own conclusions. Indeed, the White House could add its own commentary on the clarity of the question and answer in other forums. However, the public record should not be manipulated and even the perception of such manipulation can be as damaging as actual manipulation.

106 thoughts on “White House Under Fire Over Editing Of Transcript and Video Of Press Conference In Helinski”

  1. 10 posts in a row by L4D. She really, reallywants that top post the next time the counts come out.

  2. We’re like the naive kid who falls for the same gag over and over again. Carve it over your mantle: “the legacy press has lost all credibility and ought not to be believed.”

  3. Czar Putin could certainly have admitted to ordering “interference” in the American presidential election as such is not illegal under the laws of the Russian Federation.

    Stop making assumptions that the US is the world,Jonathan Turley.

  4. In Mueller I trust.

    Don’t mess with the Marine. You won’t live long enough to regret it.

  5. It seems an ordinary occurrence for leaders of other countries to have preferences in who is elected elsewhere.

  6. The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears, it was their final, most essential command……..1984. G Orwell.

    1. The party still stinks to high heaven, anyhow. It tastes a tad gamey, too. Moreover, the texture is completely slimy and mushy and downright mealy-mouthed.

  7. All propaganda must be popular and it’s intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to……….A Hitler.

    1. But, but . . . What about the liberal media elitists? To whom do they address their alleged propaganda? Retired college professors like Dr. Benson?

  8. I am waiting for trump to blame Obama for the video and transcript edits. trump and his band of lying minions have no shame. They are firm adherents to the Goebbels Big Lie and Orwellian thought doctrine. But trump cult will still drool at the site of the pathological liar and thief as he raises hands with his AG Sessions in screaming ‘lock her up!’.

    1. At least now we know why Trump fired the civil servants who taped his notes and briefing papers back together again.

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