Was soon-to-be New York Times reporter’s tweet about Joe Scarborough “fake news,” or fake “fake news”? Sopan Deb will begin working for the Gray Lady a week from today, but he has already had to issue a correction of sorts after reporting that Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski “partied” with Donald Trump on New Year’s Eve:

Scarborough responded almost 90 minutes later by accusing Deb of “pushing fake news”:

Politico’s Rebecca Morin picks up the explanation, which unfolded over a series of tweets:

On Twitter, Scarborough said he had a prearranged meeting with Trump before his Mar-a-Lago party hoping to set up an interview. He said he and Brzezinski were “in casual clothes,” and “did not attend the party, and left before any ‘partying’ began.”

“One of the more entertaining aspects of media coverage of media is how so many who blast Trump for half truths attack us with half truths,” Scarborough said. …

“But be snide while making facts up. Partied? Not even close,” Scarborough wrote.

Both Scarborough and Brzezinski were there, but not to join the party. Rather than immediately correct his characterization of their presence. Deb responded with more snark — and Scarborough fired back again:

Callum Borchers blames all of this on … Joe Scarborough. Oh, and Donald Trump too:

Scarborough’s acknowledgment that he spent a moment chatting with partygoers and that his interactions with Trump were not entirely private makes it even easier to understand why someone (like, say, Deb) might think that Scarborough and Brzezinski had joined the festivities. Again, this seems like a misunderstanding — not a lie or an example of fake news.

Rather than explain right away what actually happened, however, Scarborough blew up at Deb. He told his 685,000 followers that a reporter who covered the campaign for CBS and is about to join the New York Times simply makes stuff up.

That’s the sort of tactic employed by Trump. And while the president-elect’s attacks on the press threaten to erode public confidence in journalism, it can’t help to have similar bomb-throwing within the media.

Er … no. Borchers scolds Scarborough because he “blew up at Deb” rather than explain the situation. Here’s the real question: did Deb actually ask Scarborough or Brzezinski what they were doing there first, before taking a shot at the pair for supposed coziness with a key political figure? According to Joe Scarborough, to whom I reached out for clarification, the answer is no. Neither Deb nor Haberman attempted to contact him before the story went live or Deb tweeted out his characterization of Scarborough and Brzezinski’s presence.

Now, “someone” may think that Scarborough and Brzezinski “joined the festivities,” and taken that drift from the reporting for themselves. However, a reporter should have asked whether that was the case before publicly characterizing it in that way. Scarborough’s pretty easy to reach; he’s on Twitter for a good part of every day. It appears that Deb jumped to his conclusion without doing the minimal work first, with the clear public insinuation that the two MSNBC hosts were allowing their socializing to compromise their integrity. Deb’s follow-up tweet makes that intent all but explicit. If there was media bomb-throwing going on, Deb clearly tossed the first grenade. Blaming Scarborough for getting angry over a false allegation is blame-shifting, and tossing in the Trump mention speaks far more about Borchers’ attitude than it does Scarborough’s.

Scarborough’s not happy with Haberman, either. He sent me a statement about the original NYT article:

Maggie Haberman emails me anytime she has any questions about politics. The fact that she did not email me or call me or reach out to me when she could have gotten me in three minutes makes the situation even worse. Pick up the phone. That is what real journalists do.

This may not be “fake news” in the way that media outlets want it defined — as conservative opinion pieces they don’t like — but it’s pretty clear that Deb reported something that wasn’t true because it fit his own preconceived notions. That sure seems like “fake news” to me.