October 7, 2013

In their glorious history, fake-news sites have thrived by fooling people into thinking their stuff is for real. For instance, the conservative congressman who fell for that classic Onion story on an “Abortionplex” opening up in Topeka, or the Chinese Communist Party newspaper that fell for the Onion story celebrating North Korea’s Kim Jong Un as the “sexiest man alive,” or the news sites, including Boston.com and Breitbart.com, that bought the Daily Currant’s story that New York Times columnist Paul Krugman had gone bankrupt.

The record shows that those hoodwinked by fake news generally swallow pieces that confirm their worldview or advance their agenda. So: If you’re out to get Fox News to bite on a fake-news story, one good way just might be to … concoct an article in which President Obama digs into his pocket to support the International Museum of Muslim Cultures. That’s the allegation that recently surfaced on the National Reporter, which calls itself an “online portal for ‘citizen journalists.’”

The story got some fame on the Saturday edition of Fox News’s morning program “Fox & Friends.” After a discussion of the dispute over the accessibility of the World War II Memorial during the government shutdown, co-host Anna Kooiman said, “We’re going to talk a little bit later in the show, too, about some things that are continuing to be funded and President Obama has offered to pay out of his own pocket for the Museum of Muslim Culture, out of his own pocket.”

Kooiman later tweeted:

 

Kooiman clearly wasn’t paying close attention to the Erik Wemple Blog in early July, when we discussed a story in the National Report about alleging that President Obama had said some out-there things on a trip to Africa:

AP reporter Ramona Darlington, who attended the conference asked President Obama to explain what the profile of an American domestic terrorists is? Obama responded by saying, “Typically domestic terrorists in the U.S. are people who cling to obsolete beliefs from the time of the American Revolution. They are conservative Christians, reactionary Republicans and conspiracy theorists many of whom belong to racist hate groups.”

“Tea Partiers commonly own guns and stock up ammunition and food in anticipation of starting another civil war to overthrow the will of the governing body who represent all of the American people. We are prepared for any contingency and don’t expect to see any kind of large insurrection. Americans are capitalists who are much more interested in seeing America move forward. These terrorists groups are small in size and really present little danger,” the President added.

The Associated Press told us that it employed no reporter named Ramona Darlington.

As for Kooiman’s pledge that this “won’t happen again,” we trust her: Never again will Kooiman allege on air that President Obama has paid from his own savings to prop up the Museum of Muslim Culture. A better bet, however, would be that Kooiman or another of her colleagues on the “Fox & Friends” couch will commit some other massive failure of fact and judgment, and soon. While continuing to rule the ratings, of course.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.