MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell: ‘I Was Wrong’ to Report Unverified Trump-Russia Claim

August 28, 2019 Updated: August 28, 2019

MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell said that he made “an error in judgment” to talk on-air about a claim about President Donald Trump that had a single source.

“Last night I made an error in judgment by reporting an item about the president’s finances that didn’t go through our rigorous verification and standards process,” O’Donnell said in a statement on Wednesday, Aug. 28.

“I shouldn’t have reported it and I was wrong to discuss it on the air.”

He said that he will talk about what he did wrong on air on Wednesday night. It wasn’t clear whether that would be on his own show, Rachel Maddow’s show, or both. He did not apologize to Trump or his viewers.

Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC issued a correction to statements he made live on air that he admitted at the time came from a single source and was not verified. (Screenshot/Twitter)

O’Donnell appeared on Maddow’s show on Tuesday night and made an explosive claim about loans Trump received from Deutsche Bank.

“I may have some information, in this next hour, which would add a great deal to their understanding of that, if true, and I’ll be discussing it here,” O’Donnell said.

“I stress ‘if true,’ because this is a single source who has told me that Deutsche Bank obtained tax returns,” he added before broadcasting the unverified information.

NBC Universal, the parent company of NBC News and MSNBC, did not respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times.

It wasn’t clear if O’Donnell would receive repercussions from his employer for blasting the unverified information to millions of viewers. Maddow’s show has shed viewers since former special counsel Robert Mueller announced his team couldn’t find collusion between Trump and Russia but still ranks fifth on cable news.

(Screenshot/Twitter)

Michael Del Moro, a producer at MSNBC, said earlier Wednesday that the information O’Donnell spread “came from a single source who has not seen the bank records.”

“NBC has not seen those records and has not yet been able to verify the reporting,” he added.

Media outlets have gotten numerous reports wrong since starting to spread the Russia-Trump conspiracy theory, including BuzzFeed’s decision to publish the dossier compiled by ex-British spy Christopher Steele, which was filled with unverified information. Little of that info has been proven in two-plus years.

Trump’s counsel Charles Harder sent a letter to NBC Universal on Wednesday demanding the network “immediately and prominently retract, correct, and apologize for the aforementioned false and defamatory statements.”

President donald trump stands outside of the white house
President Donald Trump arrives on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 24, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

He slammed the company, saying, “Numerous documents for each of these loans are also recorded, publicly available and searchable online. Thus, actual malice can easily be proven based on your reckless disregard of the truth and unreasonable reliance on an alleged ‘source’ who you will not even identify in your story and likely is seeking to mislead you and the public for political reasons or other ulterior motives.”

MSNBC and NBC News have previously published stories or statements about Trump and his administration that weren’t true or were thinly sourced.

Joe Scarborough, an MSNBC host, claimed in June 2018 that Trump was “banning” the Red Cross from visiting immigrant children held by the government, prompting the aid group to reply to him and say that wasn’t true.

Just before Mueller’s testimony before Congress in July, MSNBC contributor Joyce Alene said that Fox News wouldn’t be airing Mueller’s testimony. She later deleted her statement and claimed to be joking.

MSNBC was among the outlets in August reporting that an illegal immigrant had a baby that was nursing taken from her. The mother was not lactating, the outlets were later forced to admit.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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