The White House released the official transcript – the defining historical record of Presidential events – for the Trump / Putin summit. Something was missing.
They weren’t the only ones who neglected to include it. The Kremlin did, too.
The Atlantic was among the first major media sources with the story, reporting on it almost immediately after the event, but it didn’t get national notice until it was covered on Rachel Maddow’s television show on Tuesday night.
Jeff Mason of Reuters 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?”
As The Atlantic reported:
Putin then responds with a bombshell of an answer, according to the English translation of his remarks that was broadcast during the press conference: “Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.”
But if you watch the White House live-stream of the press conference or look at the transcript published by the White House, the first half of Mason’s question is not there. Without it, the meaning of the exchange is substantially different.
Contrary to the way that press bias is reported, the writer for The Atlantic, Uri Friedman, provided context and offered potential explanations for the editing, explaining how the microphone pickup was slightly muddled due to someone trying to seize the reporter’s microphone and some crosstalk between the reporter and the translation of Putin’s prior remarks.
There is a reasonable grace period between the immediate release of information and corrections. It has been a week. That is more than enough time to correct an error, particularly of this magnitude. There has been no effort to do so.
Instead, President Trump told the assemblage at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention yesterday: (Philly.com)
“Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening,” Trump said. “Just stick with us, don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.”
He followed it up with a tweet that blatantly ignored Putin’s own words, uttered in front of Trump less than a week prior.
I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election. Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don’t want Trump!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2018
The editing of Presidential transcripts is not new… for small verbal missteps. Many of President Bush’s famous single-word “Bushisms” as well as similar but less popularized garbled words (such as the famous “corpsemen”) were corrected in the transcript, substituting intended words from written speeches for the mangled words actually spoken. But the video feed was not edited in those cases, and the President did not actively portray the events as not having happened.
In 2016, references to ISIS were edited out of an official transcript of a call by the Pulse nighclub shooter by the FBI. It caused such a blowback from the media – both “left” and “right” – that the FBI and DOJ re-released an unedited transcript shortly thereafter. (USAToday)
There is no such concern by the Republican-siding media today. Perhaps with pressure some will come, but pressure should not be needed to present the truth who those who trust you.