Reached by email, Tribe said that he was aware of the Palmer Report’s “generally liberal slant” and “that some people regard a number of its stories as unreliable.” Still, he added, “When I share any story on Twitter, typically with accompanying content of my own that says something like ‘If X is true, then Y,’ I do so because a particular story seems to be potentially interesting, not with the implication that I’ve independently checked its accuracy or that I vouch for everything it asserts.”
Asked whether he had considered his role in spreading unconfirmed information, given his stature in American society, Tribe responded that “I really don’t have anything to tell you about my thoughts regarding my personal role in sharing information over social media in this usually agnostic manner.”
Tribe is far from alone among prominent liberals in sharing unconfirmed, speculative, and sometimes wild information. But he is emblematic of an information echo chamber that has grown up since the election around sites like the Palmer Report and figures like the anti–Russian influence crusader Louise Mensch, in which anti-Trump public figures share unreliable information, the very act of which the sources of these reports use to bolster their own legitimacy. It therefore operates similarly — though it is smaller and far less powerful — to the vast new right-wing online media that launders dubious claims through increasingly mainstream outlets before, sometimes, reaching the highest levels of government.