It happened yet again today. After Palmer Report reported all the way back on May 24th that Mitch McConnell had taken millions of dollars from a Russian oligarch (link), and after we took months of abuse from larger competing news outlets on the left and right who insisted the story was fake news, the mainstream media is now reporting the same story as if it were new and breaking (link). The most frequent question I get asked by those in politics is why this keeps happening.
When it comes to why the mainstream media routinely ignores major storylines for weeks and months at a time before finally getting on the bandwagon, you’d have to ask them. I’ve long suspected they prefer to sit on these stories until they believe the political climate has shifted to where they can get the maximum ratings and traffic out of it. But the surreal part, and the one which has raised so many questions, is why some news outlets make a point of highlighting Palmer Report’s early reporting on these issues, just so they can falsely accuse us of being “fake.”
Back when Mike Pence’s email scandal became a local story in Indiana in November, Palmer Report was perhaps the only national news outlet to properly cover it (link). Six months later it was suddenly a major story on cable news. Nothing had changed about the story itself. It was just that Pence had come into greater focus overall, and the media decided to finally begin reporting on his biggest ongoing scandal.
In another instance Palmer Report connected the dots between Trump Tower’s Russian email server and a Michigan company controlled by Donald Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (link). Some competing news sites insisted that our story had to be “fake” even though we’d proven it was true. About a month later CNN finally reported the same story, while giving no credit to us, and comically flashing the words “Breaking News” across the screen (link).
None of this is to brag, but simply to set the record straight. Palmer Report’s record of timeliness and accuracy speaks for itself. And yet each time we’re early to a story that the larger media outlets aren’t yet ready to run with, some of them make a point of trying to fend off our reporting by publishing viciously dishonest and misleading attack pieces about us. Some of these competing sites have even dug deep into my personal life, trying and failing to find things they could embarrass me with. That kind of stalkerish behavior is disturbing, but it’s not as if any of this hurts my feelings. It’s that the obsessive dishonest attacks on Palmer Report end creating a whole lot of confusion, and it’s incredibly counterproductive to what should be a shared goal of reporting the news. It’s also plainly libelous, and they just assume they can get away with it because they’re larger than I am.
I’m still regularly hearing from people who say they’ll never read sites like The Atlantic or Business Insider again, after they published absurdly dishonest attack pieces on me. Both insisted that Palmer Report is “fake news” without being able to cite a single example of actual fake news. One news site dishonestly attacked Senator Ed Markey just to try to make Palmer Report look bad. Another news site dishonestly attacked Congressman Ted Lieu and Professor Laurence Tribe just to try to make Palmer Report look bad. And in each instance, these attack pieces have been published directly after Palmer Report was vindicated on yet another major story.
Palmer Report was the only news site outside of Wisconsin that covered the recount in that state (link). This prompted Snopes, which used to be a reliable myth-debunker but has instead dissolved into a phony “fact checking” tabloid since its shift in ownership last year, to falsely assert that our recount reporting was “false.” This was after we had already confirmed directly with designated recount observers on the ground that what we were reporting was accurate. It’s worth pointing out that legitimate fact checking sites like PolitiFact and FactCheck.org have never once disputed anything that Palmer Report has ever published.
If you think any of this is about partisanship or left vs right, you’ve missed the point entirely; this is all done for competitive reasons and nothing more. Certain competing news sites have been coasting along for years on a long-ago established brand name which they no longer live up to, and they’re paranoid about losing any of their own audience to up-and-comers like Palmer Report who are doing a better job than they are. They know that at least some people out there will fall for their phony attack pieces, if only on a temporary basis. The ownership of The Atlantic is now being forced to sell the publication, while Snopes is now embroiled in a major ownership scandal of its own, suggesting that these sites have been dishonestly attacking rising competitors to try to deflect from their own internal problems.
There are numerous additional examples that can be cited. Palmer Report was the first to suggest that Vladimir Putin was involved in the Syrian gas attack (link). In response a major newspaper instantly called us “fake news” over it. Yet three days later the Associated Press confirmed that Putin did indeed know about the attack in advance (link). In another instance Palmer Report spent weeks tracking the flights of Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev (link), before respected MSNBC host Rachel Maddow began reporting on those flights as well (link). We reported on Jill Stein’s dinner with Vladimir Putin (link) months before the mainstream media touched it (link).
Palmer Report now has millions of regular readers, so it’s clear that most people are able to see through these absurd tactics being employed by unscrupulous larger competitors who don’t like getting beat to a story by a one-person news site like me. And I don’t like spending a lot of time on these kinds of sideshows. But I nonetheless receive near-constant questions about why this bizarre phenomenon keeps happening. I trust this serves as a proper answer. Some of you have also asked what you can do to help counter these endless dishonest attacks on Palmer Report by competitors. The answer is to simply help set the record straight whenever you encounter anyone who’s fallen for these hijinks. Now let’s get back to reporting the news. There’s simply too much at stake.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report