At least two major news outlets have printed major retractions following the publication of an audio recording of a December phone call between former President Donald Trump and a top Georgia elections investigator.
The Wall Street Journal published audio last week of a December 23 phone call between Trump and Frances Watson, the chief investigator of the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. The audio recording debunked multiple news reports that attributed fake quotes by Trump.
Initial reports by CNN and the Washington Post claimed that Trump urged Watson to “find the fraud,” telling her that she would be a “national hero,” according to archived versions of the story. The president said neither line, and the lines have been cut from both stories. Both outlets cited a single anonymous source familiar with the call to get the falsified quote.
“I won everything but Georgia, and I won Georgia, I know that, by a lot, and the people know it, and something happened there, something bad happened,” Trump said on the call. “I hope you go back two years as opposed to just checking one against the other because that would just be sort of a signature check that doesn’t mean anything. But if you go back two years, and if you can get to [Fulton County], you are going to find things that are unbelievable. The dishonesty.”
Watson responded: “I can assure you that our team and the [Georgia Bureau of Investigation], that we are only interested in the truth and finding the information that is based on the facts. We’ve been working 12-16 hour days and, you know, we’re working through it. So I can assure you that.”
Towards the end of the call, Trump said to Watson that “when the right answer comes out, you’ll be praised.”
On Thursday, The Washington Post issued a lengthy correction to the top of its article, originally published by Amy Gardner on January 9 under the headline “‘Find the fraud’: Trump pressured a Georgia elections investigator in a separate call legal experts say could amount to obstruction.” The correction states:
Correction: Two months after publication of this story, the Georgia secretary of state released an audio recording of President Donald Trump’s December phone call with the state’s top elections investigator. The recording revealed that The Post misquoted Trump’s comments on the call, based on information provided by a source. Trump did not tell the investigator to “find the fraud” or say she would be “a national hero” if she did so. Instead, Trump urged the investigator to scrutinize ballots in Fulton County, Ga., asserting she would find “dishonesty” there. He also told her that she had “the most important job in the country right now.” A story about the recording can be found here. The headline and text of this story have been corrected to remove quotes misattributed to Trump.
CNN issued an editor’s note to the top of its article on Monday that says:
An earlier version of this story, published January 9, presented paraphrasing of the President’s comments to the Georgia elections investigator as direct quotes. The story has been updated following the discovery of an audio recording of the call. Read more here.