Washington Post on the "fake news" hot seat

The story, by Post technology reporter Craig Timberg and published Nov. 24, purported to reveal how “sophisticated” Russian propagandists had spread fake news through hundreds of web sites to destabilize American democracy, thwart Hillary Clinton and elect Donald Trump to the White House.

So far the story—which has attracted millions of page views and more than 14,000 comments—has provoked lawsuit threats from at least two of the web sites, notably the widely respected financial blog Naked Capitalism, which fired off a legal letter demanding a retraction and apology even though the Post story does not specifically mention Naked Capitalism or any of the other allegedly Russian-influenced websites.

There has also been a fusillade of disparaging commentary in publications ranging from The Intercept to The New Yorker.

“I thought it was completely ridiculous that the Post would put this sorry piece of trash on the front page,” Andrew Cockburn, the Washington editor of Harper’s magazine, told The Daily Beast in a typically vehement slam.