"It is logical that the decision [to delete the articles] was made and it shows that this hysteria about alleged secrete agreements between Trump and Russia, which has been lasting for many months in the United States and US media, has become so obvious and the US citizens have grown so much tired of this that it can be expected that the scale [of hysteria] will reduce as the limits have already been reached," Shafir said.
On Friday, former Sputnik editor Bill Moran said that the Newsweek online magazine had to delete two false stories of journalist Kurt Eichenwald, who argued that Trump conspired with Russia, basing his allegations on the same mistake Moran and Trump made last October.
Moran, at that time editor at Sputnik’s Washington bureau, discovered excerpts from the Hillary Clinton team's correspondence published by WikiLeaks. He thought the source to be trustworthy and cited Clinton's aide Sidney Blumenthal as allegedly admitting Clinton's responsibility for the death of US citizens in Libya's Benghazi, but, in fact, it was an article written by Eichenwald.
Newsweek's Eichenwald noticed Trump's mistaken story attribution and paid attention to the deleted article by Sputnik and presented a sort of conspiracy theory connecting Trump, Sputnik, WikiLeaks and Trump's campaign team.
Moran contacted Eichenwald, attempting to explain the situation and expecting Eichenwald to retract the story, but it did not happen.
The allegations were debunked by BuzzFeed's John Passantino and even by the Bellingcat blogger group, which reconstructed the sequence of events, and proved that Trump was not quoting Sputnik but brought up the same ill-fated tweet. The Washington Post, meanwhile, noted that Eichenwald "is at best misleading."
After Eichenwald’s allegations were debunked, he tried to hush up the mistake offering the young Sputnik journalist a position in the magazine and threatening to destroy his career otherwise.
Moran left Sputnik after the scandal. A recent Georgetown law graduate, he decided to pursue legal action against Newsweek and despite facing a team of high-paid lawyers, managed to bring the online publication to a settlement.