- Washington Post’s Aaron Blake completely misrepresents Sidney Powell’s court filings, turning them into a false confession that she never believed her claims of voter fraud
- In fact, Powell’s filing is quite clear that she does believe her claims about voter fraud, and publicly posted the evidence she used to make her determination
- Blake lies to his readers and is committing serious journalistic malpractice to suit a left-wing narrative
OUR RATING: Journalistic Malpractice. Even Salon.com is ashamed.
The 2020 election was defined by accusations of voter fraud, and yet the media immediately after the election and subsequently, have sought to delegitimize any accusation of fraud. Even as hundreds came forward to offer eyewitness statements about fraud, still the official media narrative was that there was no such thing and, even if there was a little, there was never enough to make a difference. Lawyers who sought to prove the fraud in court, including Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, among others, were subject to official ridicule by the media.
The main antagonist of most voter fraud accusations, Dominion Voting Systems, has filed billion-dollar defamation lawsuits against several of the lawyers and figures who argued to consider the evidence of voter fraud in court.
Aaron Blake at the Washington Post is continuing this narrative by misquoting and lying about the supposed admissions of her attorneys in filing a Motion to Dismiss in federal court. If you actually read the Motion as filed, however, it is clear that Blake’s characterization of the Powell filing is a major misrepresentation and false.
- Journalistic malpractice
- Lying headline
Sidney Powell was a well-known federal criminal defense attorney who published the book “License to Lie” about the systemic problems at the Department of Justice and among federal prosecutors. She took over the Mike Flynn prosecution and quickly turned a losing criminal case involving a false guilty plea, into an almost total exoneration for Flynn. During the election, when Powell claimed that she had seen evidence of systemic fraud, and specifically fingered Dominion Voting Systems as the culprit, it gave supporters of former President Donald Trump enthusiasm that the fraud they believed occurred would be addressed.
Yet repeated tribunals and authorities refused to act on the evidence, statements and allegations. Canvassing boards certified the results as untainted by fraud, legislatures certified the results even though many within the state were complaining and lawsuits were pending, and many courts threw out suits for reasons of legal technicalities like standing, or because the judge found the accusations lacking credibility when considering the word of the government officials who were claiming the results were free of fraud.
Dominion’s suit is in federal court and subject to a “motion to dismiss” by the defendant Sidney Powell. Powell has filed that motion and has posted it online. 
Here is how Aaron Blake at the Washington Post characterizes the filing:
Blake in the headline:
Sidney Powell’s Tucker Carlson-esque defense: ‘Reasonable people’ wouldn’t take her wild voter-fraud claims as fact
Blake in the second paragraph:
Her legal team claims that “reasonable people” would not take her claims about widespread election fraud as fact.
Blake in the fifth paragraph:
So there you have it: One of the chief architects of former president Donald Trump’s baseless effort to overturn the 2020 election admits that maybe, actually it was just that baseless and she was just saying stuff.
Here’s the basic characterization of Powell: she was so cynical that she’s finally admitting in federal court that she just made it all up. Her defense, according to Blake, is predicated on admitting to the court that she never believed any of it anyway!
This is the way radical left journalists try and explain intelligent and educated conservatives: by alleging that they are cynical, grifting, hucksters. This is the narrative frame that Blake uses on Powell, as a way of explaining why someone like her would have pushed accusations of voter fraud: she was just in it for the money!
The problem is that the Powell filing makes very clear that Powell does believe the things she said, and made an argument about how her statements characterizing the evidence of voter fraud should be understood by the court. Her argument is essentially thus: Powell made characterizations of the evidence, and she provided the evidence she made those conclusions upon. Dominion is complaining about the characterizations and not the evidence. And since the characterizations are political assessments, it doesn’t matter whether the facts are true or not, they are protected under the first amendment.
This is a classic “in the alternative” argument made to show that even if a Plaintiff’s claims are accurate, they are not legally actionable.  It does not mean that the defense, in this case Powell and her legal team, believe that her claims are baseless, it means that they do not think the Plaintiff can prevail as a matter of law. When litigants file a lawsuit, they have to prove both factual matters and matters of law that might apply in the situation.
So if Sidney Powell were to say “Democrats used Dominion to steal the election!” if they wanted to prove defamation they would have to prove a factual issue whether or not she said the alleged statement, whether the statement is true or false, as well as a legal issue of whether or not the statement is legally defamatory, and whether it was said knowing it was false or with ‘reckless disregard’ for the truth of the matter.
Let’s use this in a way that might make more sense to Blake: if I were to say “Blake is a bad reporter” and Blake sued me, the law would ask whether that’s even possible to be a yes/no answer. And it’s more a matter of taste, because clearly a lot of people like bad reporting as evidenced by the Washington Post’s continued success. So that suit would fail as a matter of law because the underlying claims, whether true or false, are not capable of being reduced to a yes or a no. If I were to say “Blake lied about Sidney Powell’s court filings” and Blake sued me, I would have to prove as a factual matter whether or not that’s true, which I think this article pretty well does. The first claim is void as a matter of law, because it’s not capable of being a yes/no answer. The second claim is more arguable as a factual matter, but since it’s true, it means that Blake has no recourse other than to start telling the truth about Powell.
To succeed in the case against Powell, Plaintiff Dominion must show that Defendant Powell’s statements were “false and made with reckless disregard for the truth” at the time they were made. Thus there are factual and legal matters in play. Powell’s attorneys are therefore critically saying she does believe in them, and whether they are true or false in the end, she believed they were true at the time they were made because she also publicly posted the evidence for her claims.
This is not a complicated legal matter and as it relates to so much of what is sometimes called “Media Law” there is no reasonable way Blake and the Washington Post are not familiar with these concepts. They are labeling Powell dishonest and disingenuous when Powell is being consistent and truthful, and the media’s dishonesty has been extreme.
The filing is very clear that Powell believes her voter fraud claims, here are relevant excerpts from page 51 of the document, styled as page 37:
The Complaint comes nowhere close to meeting this daunting standard. It alleges no facts which, if proven by clear and convincing evidence, would show that Sidney Powell knew her statements were false (assuming that they were indeed false, which Defendants dispute). Nor have Plaintiffs alleged any facts showing that Powell “in fact entertained serious doubts as to the truth of h[er] publication.” In fact, she believed the allegations then and she believes them now. [1, page 51, emphasis added]
There’s really no defending the Washington Post on this point, either through sloppiness or bias, they have fundamentally misrepresented the position of Sidney Powell in this filing and lied about her position. They have quoted her as making essentially a false confession of defrauding Americans about claims of voter fraud. This is lying by Aaron Blake, it is misrepresentation, it is a lying headline, and all of these things are journalistic malpractice.
Blake is absolutely sure there was no conspiracy to commit voter fraud, even though there are hundreds of witnesses, thousands of pages of evidence, and a variety of analyses that suggest statistically impossible voting patterns, but there was, and is, an ongoing conspiracy to promote claims of voter fraud.
This is the ‘conservative conspiracy: bad, liberal conspiracy: good‘ line of thinking popular in the media. Here’s Blake’s dissembling on this point:
Of course the plaintiffs would call the claims ridiculous, but that doesn’t mean lots and lots of Americans didn’t internalize and believe them. There is lots of evidence that they did. And in fact, the claims fueled so much mistrust that people literally stormed the Capitol based upon them, and GOP legislators across the country are now using that mistrust to pass voting restrictions, despite there being no actual evidence of widespread fraud.
Another way of describing the mindset Blake describes would be to say: “we only accept unproven claims of widespread conspiracy at the Washington Post when they involve Republicans as the bad guy.” Otherwise we shout “no actual evidence” as loudly as possible so that we can’t hear the actual evidence we refuse to consider.
It’s not enough that the Aaron Blakes of the world refused to do any investigation into Dominion or claims about voter fraud, now they have to lie about the statements being made by the people who made those claims in order to label them hypocrites and grifters. The level of media dishonesty on display here is pretty stunning, even for the Washington Post which regularly debases itself like this.
There’s another issue going on, where the media tries to show inconsistency in statements by parsing apart legal filings and documents and comparing them to the prior public statements of people they dislike. This happened during the voter fraud hearings, when Democrats would typically say that voter fraud witnesses, such as Jessy Jacob in Detroit, and Dominion Whistleblower Mellissa Carone, were saying things before a legislative committee that were not under oath so as to avoid a perjury charge. This claim, however, was brazenly at odds with the fact that most witnesses had previously sworn out affidavits saying the exact same thing they testified to, and their statements were completely consistent and coherent over time. Here, the media is waiting to pounce on Powell for perceived hypocrisy by misunderstanding and misquoting a legal filing.
Outlets that dishonestly reported the original source material should perhaps not be trusted to accurately parse words and split hairs later when it involves their perceived political foes. The obvious inconsistencies of the City of Detroit as it related to voter fraud, or by Dominion’s CEO, seem to go unnoticed and unremarked by our elite chattering class.
By setting this article in place, as well, the media amplifies these false claims by letting a variety of low-rent operations regurgitate the lie for their smaller readership. Here is perennially-bankrupt Newsweek barfing out this claim about Powell.  There is a certain group consensus that the media forms, making it difficult for the truth to escape the original narrative frame.
You can even see the Daily Caller repeat the same story, by cobbling together the same quotes and story structure, adding only a tweet from NeverTrumper Erick Erickson.  The mainstream media usually labels the Daily Caller a ‘conservative’ or ‘right wing’ outlet, and yet, here, they are uncritically repeating and amplifying the garbage journalism from the Washington Post. Even international media repeats these lies, here’s a Netherlands media outlet reporting that Powell admitted making things up in her court filing. 
Powell’s first argument in the Motion to Dismiss is contesting whether the court has jurisdiction. Considering the quality of the Washington Post’s reporting and legal understanding, it would mirror their understanding of the rest of the brief to sneer and snidely claim they were claiming Washington D.C. does not exist or that Powell doesn’t understand geography because she thinks that D.C. courts don’t have power.
We have emailed Aaron Blake to ask for a response, comment or quote. If he provides any, we will update the fact check accordingly.
There’s no defending Blake’s work here though, and the consequences for getting a story like this wrong is so severe and so cheapening to political discourse, that it earns special notice for dishonesty.
OUR RATING: Journalistic Malpractice. Even Salon.com is ashamed.