‘The Atlantic’ Commits Malpractice, Selectively Edits To Smear WikiLeaks

Originally published on Medium by Caitlin Johnston (@Caitoz). This must-read rebuke of 'The Atlantic' republished with permission.


‘The Atlantic’ Commits Malpractice, Selectively Edits To Smear WikiLeaks

Everyone was buzzing about the shocking, bombshell new report by The Atlantic yesterday, which revealed that Donald Trump Jr. and the WikiLeaks Twitter account had engaged in a “largely one-sided” conversation in private messages over the course of several months.

Don Jr. actually comes off looking fairly normal in the report, while WikiLeaks comes off looking weird and sleazy in a way that will likely damage its reputation even further than the mainstream media campaign to smear the outlet already has. WikiLeaks is seen asking for favors Trump never fulfilled, making recommendations Trump Jr. didn’t act upon, and asking for leaks Trump Jr. never gave them, which when you step back and think about it are actually fairly normal things for a leak outlet to do, all things considered. But the following passage from the Atlantic report makes the whole thing look far darker:

It is the third reason, though, Wikileaks wrote, that “is the real kicker.” “If we publish them it will dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality,” Wikileaks explained. “That means that the vast amount of stuff that we are publishing on Clinton will have much higher impact, because it won’t be perceived as coming from a ‘pro-Trump’ ‘pro-Russia’ source.”

See that full stop at the end of the last sentence there? That’s journalistic malpractice. We learned this when Donald Trump Jr. published the entirety of his private messages with WikiLeaks in response to the Atlantic article:

The author of the Atlantic article, Julia Ioffe, put a period rather than a comma at the end of the text about not wanting to appear pro-Trump or pro-Russia, and completely omitted WikiLeaks’ statement following the comma that it considers those allegations slanderous. This completely changes the way the interaction is perceived.

This is malpractice. Putting an ellipsis (…) and then omitting the rest of the sentence would have been sleazy and disingenuous enough, because you’re leaving out crucial information but at least communicating to the reader that there is more to the sentence you’ve left out, but replacing the comma with a period obviously communicates to the reader that there is no more to the sentence. If you exclude important information while communicating that you have not, you are blatantly lying to your readers.

There is a big difference between “because it won’t be perceived as coming from a ‘pro-Trump’ ‘pro-Russia’ source” and “because it won’t be perceived as coming from a ‘pro-Trump’ ‘pro-Russia’ source, which the Clinton campaign is constantly slandering us with.” Those are not the same sentence. At all. Different meanings, different implications. One makes WikiLeaks look like it’s trying to hide a pro-Trump, pro-Russian agenda from the public, and the other conveys the exact opposite impression as WikiLeaks actively works to obtain Donald Trump’s tax returns. This is a big deal.

And it made a difference in the way WikiLeaks was perceived, as evidenced by the things people who read the article are saying about Ioffe’s version:

At first I wasn’t sure who was responsible for this highly egregious omission. It could have been Ioffe, an editor, the source of the leaked DMs or an intermediary deliverer who cut out the rest of the sentence. But then I read in The Guardian’s version of this story that Ioffe had actually tweeted to Don Jr. erroneously accusing him of excluding “a couple of missing pages” from his three-part release of his DMs with WikiLeaks. Ioffe eventually deleted the tweet, after it had been seen and reported on by many people, and clarified her error.

From The Guardian, http://archive.is/TWaqv#selection-2753.0-2761.62



“My bad,” she says. Cute.

What Ioffe’s tweets tell us is that she had full copies of the DMs, since she knew that there were more pages missing from the single tweet by Don Jr. that she had read. The deceitful omission that is the subject of this article was clarified in the first Don Jr. tweet she replied to. She read it, she analyzed it enough to figure out what was missing, but she said nothing about the fact that there were a lot more words in the sentence that she selectively edited out to convey the exact opposite of its meaning.

I’m no detective, but it sure looks like this was a willful omission on Ioffe’s part made deliberately with the intention of damaging WikiLeaks’ reputation. I have been attempting to contact Ioffe, whose other work for the Atlantic includes such titles as “The History of Russian Involvement in America’s Race Wars” and “The Russians Are Glad Trump Detests the New Sanctions”; I will update this article if she has anything she’d like to say.

Also worth noting is Ioffe’s omission of the fact that we’ve known since Julythat WikiLeaks had contacted Donald Trump Jr., as well as the fact that Julian Assange’s internet was cut at the time some of the Don Jr. messages were sent, meaning they may have been sent by someone else with access to the WikiLeaks account.

As happens every single time these pro-establishment manipulations take place, the rest of the mainstream media is picking up the Atlantic’s deceitful omission and running with it as fact. GQ ran with it quoting the selectively edited text. ABC and CBS both ran with the same fake quote even after including Don Jr.’s tweets which make it clear that text was omitted. The Guardian went so far as to use the Atlantic’s selectively edited quote, and then publish an update saying that Julian Assange had “suggested that the Atlantic had selectively edited the messages” without updating the original selectively edited quote or publishing the omitted text.

What percentage of Guardian readers do you think went and read the private messages published by Don Jr. for themselves and learned that they’d been manipulated? One percent? Half of one percent? Why would they go read the published DMs if their trusted Guardian was presenting itself as conveying the full truth?

The Atlantic’s senior editor is neocon David Frum, who is credited with coining the phrase “axis of evil” used in George W Bush’s jingoistic schtick, and its editor-in-chief is the neocon Jeffrey Goldberg. Its corporate owner, Atlantic Media Company, is chaired by New America’s David G. Bradley. New America is a DC think tank whose team includes representatives from Northrop Grumman and Raytheon along with big name media and corporate giants like CNN and Walmart, and whose top donors include Bill Gates, Google’s Eric Schmidt, and the US State Department.

So this immoral manipulation is not exactly surprising. These are virulently pro-establishment people.


Every time. This happens literally every single time there’s a new “bombshell” report on the Russiagate phenomenon, without exception. Twitter explodes, I’m bombarded with social media notifications telling me “HAHAHA I BET YOU FEEL LIKE AN IDIOT NOW”, then it turns out to be a basically innocuous revelation dishonestly blown up into something explosive by liars and manipulators in the establishment media. It’s fueled entirely by Trump derangement syndrome, not by facts.

And people ask why I’m skeptical of the establishment Russia narrative. I’m skeptical because we’re being lied to every single step of the way by the news media who claim to be helping the public discover the truth. Trump lies because he’s a corrupt billionaire who knows he can get away with it, but that doesn’t make him a Russian agent. The media lies because they’re bolstering the stranglehold of America’s unelected power establishment, and that makes them traitors to our species.

I stand with WikiLeaks. They’re doing more than anyone else to shake loose the nuts and bolts of the omnicidal death machine that is driving our species toward extinction, and that’s why that same death machine pours so much energy into tarnishing their reputation so their leaks will be dismissed. Even my fellow leftists have been largely won over by the ongoing psyop to paint Assange as an evil Nazi, and I simply have no respect for that perspective. When there’s such a massive, concerted effort by America’s unelected government to sabotage someone’s reputation, your belief that they’re bad is probably a deliberate and artificial construct.

The mainstream media is not your friend, America. It’s time to send them the way of the dinosaur before they do the same to us.

UPDATE 5 PM EST 11/14/17: Surprise, surprise, here’s Chris Hayes on MSNBC regurgitating Ioffe’s selectively edited quote on MSNBC. There will be others. There is no way to undo the damage that was done by this lie. At the end of the clip Ioffe actually asserts that her story confirms Russia-WikiLeaks collusion, without at any time acknowledging that the only thing in the story that makes it look that way is her selectively-edited quote.


If Russiagate was valid, the people selling it to us wouldn’t have to lie about it every single step of the way.


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FreedomWriter Wed, 11/15/2017 - 06:28 Permalink

As the Don Sr. would say.... Sad.I wonder how much money the Atlantic will pay Wikileaks and Donald Jr. after they lose their "libel with deliberate malice" lawsuit.Probably not much, although a retraction and apology would certainly be nice.Ioffe is either a complete pathological liar (the embarassed face she made when told "this is a heck of a scoop" was revealing though) or she actually believes her lies.Either way, none of this bodes well for the once great Fourth Estate. These people need to be stopped. They are both reckless and dangerous.I hear Moore will soon be suing the WaPo.It seems to be the only language these illiterate, criminal barbarians can understand. 

chumbawamba BarkingCat Wed, 11/15/2017 - 10:21 Permalink

Yes, I was stating a fact. The down-voting cunt can do a web search on the "journalist" to find that she is the product of Russian Jews.I have superior etymological jewdar. I can tell a Jew name from a mile away. Ioffe could only be an alternative or transliterated form of Jaffe, which is the Hebrew word for "beautiful" or "pleasant", and furthermore which, as a surname, is Ashekenazic.I am Chumbawamba.

In reply to by BarkingCat

jeff montanye chumbawamba Wed, 11/15/2017 - 10:43 Permalink

zionism, whether originating from a jew or a goy, is the evil enterprise that has taken over our country since at the latest when jfk tried to nix the plans for what became the six day war.bust 9-11 and change the world.http://www.voltairenet.org/article179295.htmlhttp://www.whale.to/b/isra….   http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/everything-rich-man-trick/https://smile…

In reply to by chumbawamba

francis scott … chumbawamba Wed, 11/15/2017 - 19:15 Permalink

I didn't down vote you.  I thought by adding the feminine ending to the word jew,we could experience a visualization of a big-mouthed, bitchy, ground-glass cunt. I've heard countless jewesses like her at the deli counter instructing the slicerhow to slice her meat, warning him if the brisket is too fatty, she'll slice his meat. At the butchers, she always wants a free bone.  Her dog died 15 years ago. As far as your jewdar goes, on Jeopardy, Ioffe would be for no more than $50.Madoff would be considered more difficult.      

In reply to by chumbawamba

TeethVillage88s bh2 Wed, 11/15/2017 - 08:49 Permalink

Counter-Intelligence Operations against the Citizens of the USA, the Taxpayers, the Voters, the disenfranchised, the losers of our planned inflation, planned Inverted Totalitarianism, Planned War of the Middle Class, planned suppression of Labor Compensation Rates, Planned Authoritarianism.

In reply to by bh2

Barney Fife Lump Wed, 11/15/2017 - 21:04 Permalink

Chris Hedges is one of the most brilliant diagnosticians of our time, right up there with Chomsky. The MAJOR issue with those two is that their proposed treatments are as toxic as belladonna and would kill the patient. I very much enjoy reading their works for their insight into understanding major global problems. I do cringe and bite my lip hard when I read the nonsense that they propose to solve those issues. It boggles my mind how a man can be so witty and insightful on one side of an issue and so totally inept at synthesizing the means to address those issues. I suspect that so much effort has been put into the diagnostic aspect that all that is left of them is to toss out the knee-jerk, trivial, banal crap solutions in order to form completeness. There is no dishonor for having a talent at diagnosing a problem but lacking the skills to solve it. I just wish they'd both realize that and accept that. Egos I guess. Who knows. 

In reply to by Lump

CNONC Barney Fife Wed, 11/15/2017 - 22:19 Permalink

A proper diagnosis leads, inexorably, to the proper remedy.  If I approach a machine and find a failed electrical motor, any fool can diagnose and repair that.  The trick is to clearly understand the complexity of the system being ministered to.  Hedges and Chomsky, like many commentators in all frequencies of the spectrum, fail beacause they allow their political sensibilities to limit their perception of the real problem.  They correctly and insightfully identify the SYMPTOMS of the problem, but fail to recognize and, therefore, correct the underlying problem which leads to the incipient failure or crisis.  They fail in the same way as I would if I simply replaced the failed motor without realizing that the conductors supplying it were exposed to a temperature which exceeded their insulation rating.The world is a complex place, not because it operates on a gigantic, or macro, scale, but because it operates on a human, micro scale, and you cannot know, and an aggregate measure cannot meaningfully reveal, my motivations to act or desist.  Therefore, if a commentator propses a macro level solution, you should recognize the impossibility of implementing successfully that program, and realize that his motivations are likely political in nature.Chomsky and Hedges are incapable of providing a meaningful solution because they are politically motivated. 

In reply to by Barney Fife

jeff montanye Never One Roach Wed, 11/15/2017 - 10:54 Permalink

i used to read the nyt every day and now if i try even the book review i throw it across the room in a few minutes or less.  the combination of the obviously slanted coverage of both the democratic primary and the general election, both times the msm obviously in the tank for hillary, combined with the increasingly telling critique, from both the left and the right (and just truth seekers) on the internet has got to make some difference in the electorate after a while.

In reply to by Never One Roach

Ex-Oligarch Wed, 11/15/2017 - 07:29 Permalink

It's high time public figures started attempting libel suits again.  In case after case, the media seems to have abandoned entirely the old journalistic standards.  Reporters, editors and owwners alike regularly voice their open desire to damage opposition figures.  Showing malice used to be a high hurdle when there was at least a pretense of factual rigor and impartiality, but how hard can it be when the intent of the slanderers is so blatant?

JerseyJoe Wed, 11/15/2017 - 07:48 Permalink

MSM scumbags.   This is why Reagan was sooo right in saying:'It isn't so much that liberals are ignorant. It's just that they know so many things that aren't so.'(Or should that be -They know what is made up in the liberal rag sheets they read and worship. The funny thing is they read this crap and then swagger in their belief in their elite insights and knowledge but not knowing it is complete and utter BULLSHIT!.  And when confronted with the real facts still cling to the BULLSHIT they have been fed.   Hillarious.  This why the left hates the internet - their lies and BULLSHIT get exposed and some of their readers are coming out of the leftist comas.)

To Hell In A H… Wed, 11/15/2017 - 07:52 Permalink

What Think-Tank arm does The Atlantic belong to? They are all propagandists. The same applies to FOX news, since its inception. I only source from he MSM, because it's the accepted standard when writing a report.  

OCnStiggs To Hell In A H… Wed, 11/15/2017 - 08:19 Permalink

If you only source using the MSM then much of your sources are fake.The MSM is owned by the very Elites opposed to Trump. They have been caught in hundreds of lies thus far, not the least of which is Hillary had a 95% chance of winning the election. Or, she was the best candidate. Or, the DNC was fair to Bernie. Or, Lois Lerner's activities would be tolerated if perpetrated against Liberals. Or that Mueller was legally correct in not going to a Grand Jury.Or that Loretta Lynch meeting with Clinton on the trarmac was simply a "coincidence." Or that Obama didn't know any of this was going on despite hundreds of meetings at the community organizers White House.You must believe in Santa Clause too. Sorry. WE DO NOT. 

In reply to by To Hell In A H…

Quinvarius Wed, 11/15/2017 - 08:23 Permalink

This news outlets need to be sued by the Federal Governmnet as if they are advertising companies making false claims for money...because that is all they are.  There is nothing here remotely journalistic.  It is a calculated and constant smear campaign.  It goes even beyond the protection of teh press to talk about public figures.

Vilfredo Pareto Wed, 11/15/2017 - 08:43 Permalink

Nothing is different nowadays with MSM.  That is why I laugh about the concern over fake news.  It has all been fake and spun since forever.  Omissions which change the meaning are also lies. The only thing different is that it is easier to look at the original sources.  We also  have alternative media to provide different perspectives and to dispute errors and omissions.

RationalLuddite Vilfredo Pareto Wed, 11/15/2017 - 12:19 Permalink

"Omissions which change the meaning are also lies." EXACTLY.After a few years of close observation it is clear the only reason such basic childish omissions-that-change-the-meaning & ad hominems work is because the public is both infantile and 1st order logic capable only. Can't walk and chew gum at the same time. Yes many are busy and distracted by legitimate life. But in truth even a mildly intelligent 13 year old should be able to spot and be automatically skeptical by the behavior of the accusers (the Atlantic) even if they lack detailed knowledge of the accused. And then the way other networks deliberately propagate a known lie because they supposedly have 'plausible' deniability or they can try the risible "well it wasn't me that lied. She did it. I just unknowingly  (wink wink) was duped into repeating it". This sort of gaslighting ergregious BS has been tolerated too long in society at large (hands up whose experienced this type of toxic lying in Borderline Personality girls and NPD work associates of both sexes) and here is merely a manifestation of the legalistic lying and misleading once the principal preserve of politicians,  scum lawyers (sorry - tautology), and con men. Our uber narcissistic dishonest 'jounalists' & leaders appear to be merely a distillation of the broader epidemic of delusional,  magic thinking narcissists of the population.  Catharsis Fini. Thank you for your therapy

In reply to by Vilfredo Pareto

Justapleb RationalLuddite Wed, 11/15/2017 - 20:03 Permalink

Dark Triad personalities self-select into journalsim.Because they consider deceit being "smart".   Only stupid people tell the truth.  By making a good man a pariah, or a pariah a good man - that is exercising power.   The public schools have dumbed-down the kids to the point of imbeciles.   If you control for race, the Asians and Caucasians are doing fine.   So are the blacks, they're leading the crime statistics and getting an ever-earlier start on a professional career in crime.The media and government killed families, but the blacks have been the greatest casualty.   Since the welfare state, it has become single mother parasites and dads with no direction save primitive compulsions.   You cannot have empathy, compassion, or over-riding reason and logic to guide you as a journalist.   Because you're a psychopath and all that shit is for stupid people.  

In reply to by RationalLuddite

CheapBastard Wed, 11/15/2017 - 09:01 Permalink

The Atlantic has turned into a Tabloid. Real junk these days. Poorly researched and very poorly written junk I would not even submit to my college professors.

cat2005 Wed, 11/15/2017 - 11:27 Permalink

So why isn’t Wiki threatening legal action?

Unless I am mistaken it previously did so against CNN or some othet major media outlet. When faced with potential financial consequences the media outlet actually retracted / apologised.

I wish I could remember more details.

Does anyone else recall?

Herdee Wed, 11/15/2017 - 12:21 Permalink

The RussiaPhobia elites backed by NeoCons/Nazis really don't understand that those in the know see their behavior as nothing but bad cartoons worse than B Rated where even a moron can see the simple simon mindset. CNN is actually at a Grade 2 level of education.

Consuelo Wed, 11/15/2017 - 12:33 Permalink

  Look at the average age of ('journalists') today. Childhood upbringing was very likely to be left of center.The Father was likely to be a cuckold.Discipline was likely to be the 'time out' sort.Education was guaranteed to be well Left of center.Result:The miserable Bitch in this article.   

SweetDoug Wed, 11/15/2017 - 13:11 Permalink

'''Not seeing this over at MediaDontMatters?I'll keep checking.Awesome out on the fake news. Everybody head over to MM and give their members a good goin' over!More fun than you can imagine. ojo

Posa Wed, 11/15/2017 - 15:42 Permalink

Ioffe leads the NeoCon-Deep State propaganda assault on Russia... her hatred knows no bounds... It's maniacs like this who are trying to drive a wedge between the US and Russia at all costs

moneybots Wed, 11/15/2017 - 16:08 Permalink

"Surprise, surprise, here’s Chris Hayes on MSNBC regurgitating Ioffe’s selectively edited quote on MSNBC. There will be others. There is no way to undo the damage that was done by this lie." The MSM isn't even trying to undo the damage they are doing to themselves, by their lies.