Fake News: A Textbook Example

Anybody who doubts the existence of Fake News should read the May 15 Washington Post article, “Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador.” In the text that follows that damning headline, we read in the first sentence that the source is “current and former U.S. officials.”

But you’ll search in vain for the names and positions of these “officials,” who were evidently not at the meeting themselves, in which case what we have is cheap gossip. Read waaaay down and you’ll see that sources who are able to be identified by name and position (national security adviser HR McMaster and deputy national security adviser for strategy Dina Powell), and who were actually at the meeting with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador, call the accusation false.

I’m not saying I know what was, or was not, said in the meeting; but good journalism would require the Post to get some kind of attributable corroboration before publishing an inflammatory accusation that is clearly denied by people who were present. So, those people (if they exist) who are making the claim that the President made dangerous statements to his Russian guests need to step forward, or there is no story.

The Post doesn’t care. The headline stands, and the smear marches on as other “news” outlets report on the Post’s report. Thus the story, based on nothing, becomes the story: “According to a Washington Post report…”

Classic Fake News.

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