Headlines from some mainstream news outlets uncritically repeated President Donald Trump’s absurd accusation that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) are guilty of “Treason.” Trump tweeted the incendiary claim amid an impeachment inquiry that Pelosi launched after a whistleblower complaint accused the president of urging Ukraine’s leader to investigate a political rival.
Late Sunday night, Trump wrote on Twitter that Pelosi and Schiff (D-CA) were “guilty” of “High Crimes and Misdemeanors, and even Treason.” Trump also accused Schiff of treason on September 30 after the congressman parodied Trump’s phone call to the Ukrainian president during a congressional hearing. In the most recent tweets, Trump claimed Pelosi was guilty of treason because she knew of Schiff’s “lies and massive frauds perpetrated upon Congress and the American people.” Trump was referring, in part, to the reports that the whistleblower had contacted an aide on the intelligence committee who had counseled them to lodge a formal complaint with the Intelligence Community inspector general. Though Schiff hadn’t disclosed the aide’s initial contact with the whistleblower until media reported on it, many have pointed out that the action of the oversight committee staff member is standard practice.
CNN reporter Daniel Dale explained that Trump’s accusation was both false and out of line.
Last week, the Hill and several other mainstream news outlets committed a similar error when they repeated without any pushback Trump’s false claim that the impeachment inquiry in the House is a “coup.” Repeating Trump’s misleading framing in headlines has been an ongoing issue for media outlets during the president’s Ukraine investigation.