Trump’s hyperbole has currency because the media often live up to conservatives’ worst expectations.

On July 27, CNN reported that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, would be willing to tell Special Counsel Robert Mueller that the president knew in advance of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his campaign and a Kremlin-linked lawyer who was allegedly selling dirt on Hillary Clinton. This revelation not only contradicted Trump’s denials, but also Cohen’s testimony to Congress. It was quite the exclusive-the closest we’ve come to ferreting out “collusion” since the last time CNN botched a big scoop.

The story, bylined by Carl Bernstein, Marshall Cohen, and former Obama administration political appointee Jim Sciutto, cited numerous “sources” with knowledge of the supposed bombshell. The Washington Post, chasing the same story, soon outed Cohen’s lawyer, the preternaturally mendacious Lanny Davis, as the source of the contention.

But Davis was forced to walk back the claim, first conceding that he “should have been more clear” and that he “could not independently confirm what happened,” and then he sort of apologized. (It’s worth noting that anyone who trusts Davis as a primary source for any story is likely to be either consciously allowing themselves to be duped or irreparably incompetent.)

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