“Journalist” Who Broke Trump Buzzfeed Story Has LONG History of Using Fake Sources And Lying

The reporter who broke the BuzzFeed story that President Trump instructed his attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress is Jason Leopold.

The same Jason Leopold that ahs a long and storied history of lying about his sources and evidence.

The same Jason Leopold that reported, in 2006, that Karl Rove was about to be indicted with sources that were lies.

The Washington Post reported in 2006 that Leopold was a drug abuser with a long history of lying.

The May 13 story on the Web site Truthout.org was explosive: Presidential adviser Karl Rove had been indicted by Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald in connection with his role in leaking CIA officer Valerie Plame’s name to the media, it blared. The report set off hysteria on the Internet, and the mainstream media scrambled to nail it down. Only . . . it wasn’t true.

As we learned last week, Rove isn’t being indicted, and the supposed Truthout scoop by reporter Jason Leopold was wildly off the mark. It was but the latest installment in the tale of a troubled young reporter with a history of drug addiction whose aggressive disregard for the rules ended up embroiling me in a bizarre escapade — and raised serious questions about journalistic ethics.

In his nine-year reporting career, Leopold has managed, despite his drug abuse and a run-in with the law, to work with such big-time news organizations as the Los Angeles Times, Dow Jones Newswire and Salon. He broke some bona fide stories on the Enron scandal and the CIA leak investigation. But in every job, something always went wrong, and he got the sack. Finally, he landed at Truthout, a left-leaning Web site.

I met Leopold once, three days before his Rove story ran, to discuss his recently published memoir, “News Junkie.” It seems to be an honest record of neglect and abuse by his parents, felony conviction, cocaine addiction — and deception in the practice of journalism.

Leopold says he gets the same rush from breaking a news story that he did from snorting cocaine. To get coke, he lied, cheated and stole. To get his scoops, he has done much the same. As long as it isn’t illegal, he told me, he’ll do whatever it takes to get a story, especially to nail a corrupt politician or businessman. “A scoop is a scoop,” he trumpets in his memoir. “Other journalists all whine about ethics, but that’s a load of crap.” …

We may never know what really happened. Most mainstream news organizations have dismissed the Leopold story as egregiously wrong. But even if he had gotten it right and scooped the world on a major story, his methods would still raise a huge question: What value does journalism have if it exposes unethical behavior unethically? Leopold seems to assume, as does much of the public, that all journalists practice deception to land a story. But that’s not true. I know dozens of reporters, but Leopold is only the second one I’ve known (the first did it privately) to admit to doing something illegal or unethical on the job.

The Columbia Journalism Review took it further.

Leopold’s latest addition to his application for membership in the Stephen Glass school of journalism came on May 12 of this year, when he got what appeared to be the scoop of a lifetime. Now writing for Truthout.org, Leopold reported that Karl Rove “told President Bush and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, as well as a few other high level administration officials,” that he was about to be indicted in the Valerie Plame CIA leak case, “according to people knowledgeable about these discussions.”

Leopold claimed that multiple sources “confirmed Rove’s indictment is imminent. These individuals requested anonymity saying they were not authorized to speak publicly about Rove’s situation.”

Well, today we learned that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said he would not seek charges against Rove.


Truthout’s executive director Marc Ash originally stood by Leopold’s story — even as no other news organization could confirm it, and Rove’s attorney vociferously denied it. On May 18, Ash wrote that the site had “additional, independent sources,” and that “additional sources have now come forward and offered corroboration to us.” But just a day later, Ash issued an odd “partial apology” for “getting too far out in front of the news-cycle,” on the story — a note which smelled a bit like a preemptive backtrack.

But Ash again changed course on May 25, when he wrote for Truthout that he now had “three independent sources confirming that attorneys for Karl Rove were handed an indictment either late in the night of May 12 or early in the morning of May 13. We know that each source was in a position to know what they were talking about.”

After all this certainty comes Ash’s latest version of the story, published yesterday, where he writes that Truthout based its original article “on single source information and general background information obtained from experts. The conclusions we arrive at should be considered carefully, but not taken as statements of fact, per se.” Ash makes no mention of those “three independent sources” who were “in a position to know” that he trumpeted less than three weeks ago.

Now that we finally have a look at what Leopold and Ash have been working from, it looks pretty thin. Ash says that he knows “for certain” that there exists a federal indictment called “06 cr 128” which he refers to as “(Sealed vs. Sealed)” since neither party’s name is on the document. He also knows that this indictment “was returned by the same grand jury that has been hearing matters related to the Fitzgerald/Plame investigation.”

So much for what Ash knows. Apparently, Ash is a very religious man, because he “believes” quite a bit about the alleged indictment. He believes that it “is directly related to the Fitzgerald/Plame investigation. That’s based on a single credible source.” He goes on to list several other things he “believes” to be true, all fed to him by, in his words, the “same single credible source.” (Once again, Ash’s “three independent sources” are nowhere to be found.)

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