The Washington Post revealed Friday the newspaper had removed and corrected "large portions" of years-old stories about the infamous Christopher Steele dossier, which the mainstream media used as alleged evidence to claim Donald Trump's presidential campaign colluded with Russia.
What is the background?
The Post took action after U.S.-based Russian analyst Igor Danchenko was arrested on Nov. 4. The New York Times has described Danchenko as the "primary researcher" of the infamous dossier.
Danchenko was arrested after special counsel John Durham, who is investigating the origins of the government's Trump-Russia probe — discovered he allegedly repeatedly lied to FBI investigators about how he obtained the information that he passed onto Steele, an ex-British spy.
Danchenko has pleaded not guilty.
What did WaPo do?
The stories in question were published years ago, one in March 2017 and the other in February 2019. Sally Buzbee, the executive editor of the Post, said the indictment plus new reporting had "created doubts" about the accuracy of the stories.
In fact, the Post reported Buzbee as saying the newspaper "could no longer stand by the accuracy" of certain elements in the stories.
The stories identified businessman Sergei Millian as being "Source D," the source responsible for the "most salacious allegation" in the dossier, the Post explained. The Post has now retracted that assertion in light of the development with Danchenko and other "new reporting."
The March 2017 story was titled, "Who is 'Source D'? The man said to be behind the Trump-Russia dossier's most salacious claim." The newspaper published the story despite repeated claims by Millian that he was not, in fact, the source behind the information. The story was based upon two anonymous sources, one of whom told the Post recently that new information "puts in grave doubt that Millian" was the source.
The Post explained:
The newspaper removed references to Millian as Steele's source in online and archived versions of the original articles. The stories themselves won't be retracted. A dozen other Post stories that made the same assertion were also corrected and amended.
The February 2019 story centered on Millian's alleged connections to some of Trump's business dealings.
However, as the Post explained, Durham's indictment of Danchenko suggests Danchenko did not receive information from Millian, "but from a Democratic Party operative with long-standing ties to Hillary Clinton."
Interestingly, the Post did not fully retract the stories, but rather highly edited and republished them.
"It's rare for a publication to make wholesale changes after publication and to republish the edited story, especially more than four years afterward," Post reporter Paul Farhi observed.