Fake News: Media Erroneously Tweet Steve Bannon ‘Guilty’ Before Closing Arguments

Steve Bannon at court (Ting Shen / Bloomberg via Getty)
Ting Shen / Bloomberg via Getty

Several journalists erroneously tweeted that Stephen K. Bannon was found guilty of contempt of Congress in federal court in Washington, DC, on Thursday afternoon — before closing arguments in the trial Friday morning.

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell tweeted: “BANNON GUILTY.” His colleague Chris Hayes tweeted “Bannon found guilty,” citing a tweet by CBS News congressional correspondent Scott MacFarlane, who was covering a different case.

Kai Ryssdal of Marketplace warned others that they were getting the facts wrong:

So, too, did Bannon biographer Joshua Green:

O’Donnell apologized for spreading the misinformation about the verdict, as did Hayes, taking down their mistaken tweets:

Others also apologized:

Some, like the CBC’s Tom Harrington, Alex Salvi of Newsmax, and Carl Quintanilla of CNBC, simply deleted their tweets about the Bannon verdict without apparent further explanation (as of this writing).

Matt Ford of the New Republic tweeted that his “sources” claimed Bannon would be found guilty; he later explained that he had been making fun of a tweet by “Russia collusion” blogger Louise Mensch speculating that Bannon would be sentenced to death for espionage in 2017.

The defense rested on Thursday without presenting witnesses, moving for an acquittal and arguing the prosecution had failed to prove that Bannon, a former White House and Trump campaign aide, had willfully committed contempt of Congress.

Defense attorney David Schoen told reporters outside the courthouse that his client had been prevented from putting on a full defense by the judge, who barred the defense from questioning the legality of the subpoena Bannon is accused of defying.

Bannon added his own commentary, noting that he had always testified before Congress, once executive privilege had been waived — which he said it had not been, in this case, until recently.

He closed: “I stand with Trump and the Constitution.”

Bannon is also the former executive chairman of Breitbart News.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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