President Trump attacked the media this morning for the rumors and speculation surrounding his wife’s absence from the spotlight after her surgery last month:

One of the reporters who has led the charge on this story is CNN’s Brian Stelter who immediately claimed the president was arguing in bad faith:

Wait a minute. What if the Twitter commenters aren’t “random”? What if they are people who work in the media?

This guy writes for Rolling Stone:

This person has written for Vox and the Guardian:

Globe and Mail writer.

Salon writer:

Entertainment Weekly doesn’t spell out a particular theory but says she’s now a believer:

The point is, there were multiple people in the media speculating wildly in public. I’m pointing out the blue check marks but there are thousands of people making similar remarks or agreeing with all of this speculation. Case in point, this guy made a joke on Twitter and was RT’d over 130,000 times.

Brian Stelter’s response to this is that none of that constitutes media reporting. It’s just people with big followings on Twitter:

That’s true! It’s not really reporting but the “real news outlets” are still paying attention to the rumors bubbling up from the left-wing fever swamps all around them. As Jeryl Bier pointed out, they are reporting the rumors as rumors but it’s still getting out there:

CNN even brought up the plastic surgery rumor:

And here’s Newsweek:

NY Magazine’s site The Cut ran a story focusing on which plastic surgery procedures might explain Melania’s absence.

The point is, the stuff Trump brought up in his tweets really has been circulating broadly and some journalists and news outlets have participated in those unfounded rumors. It would, of course, be one thing if someone came forward with an actual story about why Melania has been out of the limelight for several weeks post-surgery. That would be fair game. But what has been happening in lieu of real news is lots of dark speculation backed up by nothing. Instead of hand-waving that away, Stelter should acknowledge the rumors have been gradually crawling out of the left-wing fever swamps and creeping into the broader media absent any facts.