EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Jim Banks Seeks Retraction and Correction from NPR for Fake News

Rep. Jim Banks
Paul Morigi/Getty Images for WS Productions

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) has sent a letter to National Public Radio (NPR) asking for a retraction and correction for its “disingenuous” article claiming that the lawmaker had provided false information in an interview with the taxpayer-funded media outlet about the Democrats’ efforts to impeach President Donald Trump.

In an October 2 interview with All Things Considered host Michel Martin, Banks called out Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, for leading what Banks described as a “political impeachment.”

At the end of the interview article NPR posted on its website, Martin added commentary criticizing Banks’ remarks.

“We feel we must note that Congressman Banks did not accurately describe The New York Times reporting about Congressman Schiff and the whistleblower’s complaint,” Martin said. “The Times quoted a spokesman for Congressman Schiff who said Schiff never saw any part of the complaint or knew precisely what the whistleblower would deliver.”

And as Breitbart News reported, the Washington Post called out Schiff for his dishonesty:

The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” column hit House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) with four Pinocchios Friday for falsely claiming that his panel had “not spoken directly” with the partisan CIA officer behind a so-called “whistleblower” complaint about President Donald Trump.

Then NPR sent out its public editor, Elizabeth Jensen, to not only accuse Banks of inaccurate remarks, but promote the idea that the news outlet should use only pre-taped interviews instead of live ones so that it could edit them before they were aired.

Banks addressed his letter seeking a retraction and correction to Edith Chapin, vice president and executive editor of NPR, and cc’d all Republicans in the House and the Senate:

In fact, it is Mrs. Jensen’s article that spreads misinformation. The premise of the article, that I mischaracterized Adam Schiff’s relationship with the whistleblower, is false. I request that NPR publish an article correcting her “correction.”

After a rambling introduction that takes well over half of the article and repeatedly alludes to “errors” and “misinformation” in the October 2 interview, Mrs. Jensen finally presents her account of my supposed lie.

Apparently, I am guilty of “incorrectly asserting that Schiff had “lied” about his role in the whistleblower complaint.” Mrs. Jensen then adds “(I’m not going to repeat the entire incorrect statement.)”, as if my claims were so vulgar and salacious as to be unworthy of reprint. If she had included my full remarks, well-informed readers would see that everything I said about Adam Schiff is true. And demonstrably so.

I stated the following three facts, which are taken directly from the interview transcript, and which Mrs. Jensen claims are false: “Adam Schiff knew about the whistleblower. The whistleblower came to Chairman Schiff and to the intelligence committee even though he lied about it and said that he’d never spoken directly to the whistleblower. We now know that he was part of orchestrating the whistleblower account to begin with.”

Banks points out in the letter that on the same day of the NPR interview, the New York Times ran a story “detailing how the whistleblower spoke with a House Intelligence Committee aide about the Trump-Zelensky phone call before the whistleblower filed an official complaint.”

He also said Schiff made the same false claim in an interview on MSNBC.

“During a September 17, interview on ‘Morning Joe’ Adam Schiff stated, ‘We have not directly spoken with the whistleblower.’ This, as the New York Times report proved, is untrue,” Banks wrote.

“So, Chairman Schiff, like Mrs. Jensen, did, in fact, ‘lie about it,’” Banks wrote.

Banks then nailed down the final true statement he made in the interview:

Regarding my final claim, the New York Times story reports that Chairman Schiff’s aide counseled the whistleblower to find legal representation and then file a formal complaint with an inspector general. In accordance with the staffer’s advice, the whistle-blower hired attorneys Andrew Bakaj and Mark Zaid, and submitted a complaint to Inspector General Michael Atkinson. Additionally, on September 10, 2019 Chairman Schiff sent a public letter to acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, calling for him to turn over a then little-known whistleblower complaint to the House Intelligence Committee. According to the New York Times report, Maguire’s staff was “puzzled” by the aggressive, public campaign, as such negotiations are typically conducted privately.  The Chairman’s unusual decision was clearly motivated by his firsthand knowledge of the whistleblowers’ grievance. So, Chairman Schiff did play a clear role in “orchestrating the whistleblower account.”

Banks also called out NPR for claiming it interviews more Democrats than Republicans because members of the GOP won’t agree to be interviewed.

“But she never asks why they might hesitate to appear on NPR. The lack of self-awareness is astounding,” Banks wrote. “Republicans have come to expect the biased, deceptive, and self-serving behavior embodied by Mrs. Jensen’s article. Its publication simply served to remind conservatives that NPR will not treat us fairly.”

“Within NPR’s newsroom, it seems Mrs. Jensen’s stance towards my interview is a typical one,” Banks wrote. “When a listener tweeted ‘Jim Banks spouting clear lies on NPR and he got no pushback. Why?’ ‘All things Considered’ host Mary Louise Kelly replied, ‘Don’t believe I’ve ever interviewed Jim Banks but when I do, I’ll look forward to pressing him for evidence.’”

“She will not be interviewing me anytime soon, but luckily Mrs. Kelly can find the ‘evidence’ she seeks by reading this letter, or the original New York Times report,” he wrote.

Banks concludes his letter by reminding NPR that as a taxpayer-funded media outlet it has “a special responsibility to remain evenhanded” even while acknowledging that all of public broadcasting has a long history of political bias to the left.

“But, if you retract and issue a correction to Mrs. Jensen’s disingenuous article, NPR will have taken a step towards basic standards of journalistic integrity,” Banks wrote. “And if you sincerely do wish to book Republican lawmakers, they may be more likely to accept your request.”

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