A year's worth of anti-Trump media errors

Becket Adams at the Washington Examiner has completed a list of false news stories propagated by the media in 2017. You’ll be shocked to learn that nearly all of the stories cut against the Trump administration. Granted, not all of these stories were blockbusters (though some were, at least initially) but the length of the list suggests the media is being remarkably careless in how it covers the administration. I’m not going to present even a substantial portion of Adams’ list but here are eight examples from the 100 he offers:

Jan. 20MLK Is Still There

The Claim: The Trump transition team removed a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office.

The Source: Then-Time magazine White House reporter Zeke Miller.

The Facts: The MLK bust was never moved. It was merely obstructed from Miller’s line of vision. By the time Miller corrected his mistake, the initial erroneous claim had already spread all over social media, taking on a life of its own.

Feb. 21: Do It For the Skiffer

The Claim: President Donald Trump was aboard a skiff at his Mar-a-Largo resort in Florida when he was given a classified intelligence briefing regarding a North Korean missile launch.

TheSource: A Politico reporter

The Facts: White House press secretary Sean Spicer used the acronym “SCIF” on Feb. 21 to describe the president’s intelligence update. Spicer was, of course, using the shorthand for “Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility.” The president was inside a “SCIF” when his team updated him on the North Korean missile launch.

However, when Spicer used the acronym “SCIF” to refer to “Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility,” the reporter thought the White House spokesman meant “skiff.”


The reporter deleted his original tweet, and later admitted the error. Like certain entries on this list, this example is here not because it is a major error. Indeed, it’s a small thing. It’s here because it’s funny and because it embodies this year’s rash of lousy Trump coverage

April 30: Loyalty Day

The Claim: By marking May 1 as “Loyalty Day,” President Trump is reviving a Cold War-era holiday and/or taking a page straight out of the authoritarian’s playbook.

The Source: MSBNC’s Joy Ann Reid, Teen Vogue’s Lauren Duca and the Young Turks’ John Ladarola.

The Facts: Trump did indeed mark May 1 as “Loyalty Day” – just like every president since 1955. The Cold War-era holiday is not new, it’s not insidious and it’s not a Trump creation. Google is your friend.

July 6: A Monumentally False And Stupid News Cycle

The Claim: House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., has imposed a puritan dress code on female congressional reporters.

The Source: Yahoo News, Fortune, Glamor, Esquire, Bustle, Mashable, Newsweek, Mic, Jezebel, Vogue.

The Facts: The Speaker’s lobby dress code is decades old. Ryan has nothing to do with what it requires of members of the press, including that men wear jackets and ties and that women dress “appropriately,” meaning no sleeveless dresses or open-toe shoes.

The dress code is loosely defined, and enforcement depends on who is doing the enforcing. The code is not new, it applies specifically to the Speaker’s lobby and it has been this way for many, many, many years.

Sept. 25: Betsy DeVos and Private Jets

The Claim: “Education Secretary DeVos uses a private jet to fly around the country to tour schools and attend other work events” and “DeVos uses private jet for work-related travel.”

The Source: The Associated Press and the Hill.

The Facts: DeVos uses – ahem – her own private jet at her own expense for work-related travel.

She pays for almost everything. There is practically no cost to taxpayers. In fact, her to-date submitted travel expenses amount to a mere $184. Though the AP and Hill reports actually mentioned these details, the headlines were misleading enough as to have kicked off the usual cycle of online rage mobs.

Nov. 2: Kill Him Two Times

The Claim: The fact that Donald Trump called for the death penalty for vehicular terrorist Sayfullo Saipov, but not for the white man who carried out the Las Vegas shooting, suggests the U.S. president is probably racist.

The Source: GQ magazine.

The Facts: Trump probably hasn’t called for the death penalty for Stephen Paddock because the Las Vegas shooter is already dead. Meanwhile, the man who killed eight people in New York City on Oct. 31 is still very much alive.

Dec. 1: Flynn, ABC News and Brian Ross

The Claims: Former national security advisor Gen. Michael Flynn is prepared to testify that, as a candidate, Donald Trump directed him to make contact with the Russians.

The Source: ABC News’ Brian Ross.

The Facts: The referenced directive came after the 2016 election. The president-elect reportedly ordered his transition team to contact Russia and other world leaders regarding the incoming administration’s foreign policy objectives, which is standard for incoming presidents.

It took ABC eight hours to issue a correction. When it did, it characterized it incorrectly as a “clarification.”

Ross was suspended for his error, and subsequently banned from any further coverage of the president.

Dec. 8: Audience Size Twitter is the Best Twitter

The Claim: President Trump appeared before a nearly empty arena in December to stump for Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

The Source: The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel.

The Facts: Weigel shared a picture on Twitter claiming President Trump’s appearance on behalf of Moore had attracted a pitifully small crowd. Weigel was wrong, and the picture he shared was taken prior to the rally’s official start time. Weigel deleted the inaccurate claim and apologized.

We covered many of these stories here at the time they happened. And I think there are some stories that aren’t on the list that could be. For instance, the media freakout over Melania Trump’s shoes last August. He also skipped the brief freakout over Trump supposedly Photoshopping his hands to make them look bigger in official photos. Some of these claims didn’t get very far before they were reeled in by people on the right or other journalists. Still, there’s a clear willingness to believe almost anything negative about Trump or his administration which makes the media unusually susceptible to this sort of fake news.

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