President Trump hammered Democrats on Tuesday for an alleged act of misinformation:

Although it’s possible that some Democrats said something to that effect, the Erik Wemple Blog heard a Fox News correspondent state that very contention during a Fox News segment kicking off the 11 p.m. hour Monday. Kristin Fisher, who was covering Trump’s rally in Cape Girardeau, Mo., said this, among other things: “President Trump is really laying it all on the line here.” Fisher talked about how much work Trump had plowed into the midterm elections. Speaking of the Senate race between Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill and Republican challenger Josh Hawley, Fisher said, “It’s one of the closest races in the entire country.” She later commented, “Normally at a rally like this, you would expect the candidate that the president is stumping for to get up onstage with him, but President Trump said a few moments ago that the candidate had already left. Not quite sure why, but this rally is running a little late.”

At 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Fisher went on Fox News to say, “I just want to correct something that I said last night at this rally with President Trump and the Republican Senate candidate in this race, Josh Hawley. You know, about an hour into the president’s remarks last night, we still hadn’t heard from or seen Josh Hawley, and it was really loud in this rally, and I thought that I heard the president say that Josh Hawley was ‘leaving.’ But what he really said was Josh Hawley was ‘leading,’ as in ‘leading in the polls,’ so I just wanted to apologize for my mistake and set the record straight, especially since, to complicate matters even further now, President Trump is now tweeting, quote … ”

At that point, Fisher read the Trump quote about Democrats and the spreading of rumors about Hawley.

So credit Fisher and Fox News for a full-throated correction. Though Fisher could have been more careful with her reporting — perhaps by reviewing the audio, checking tweets or some other approach — her mistake was an understandable one. There but for the grace of God goes the Erik Wemple Blog.

It’s unclear whether it was Fisher’s reporting — or those mysterious rumormongering “Democrats” — that gave rise to this notion. But this much is clear: It’s chuckle-worthy if the president is blaming “Democrats” for “fake news” that originated at Fox News.

That would be a misnomer as well. If it was Fisher’s report that launched the whispers that Hawley had bolted, well, that wouldn’t meet the original definition of “fake news” in any case — that is, a fabricated report designed to prey on partisan loyalties and deliver pageviews. Misunderstandings arising from a loud and boisterous arena don’t get sorted into this sordid basket.

We’ve asked Fox News for a comment and will update if we hear back.


At a Trump rally in Missouri, there was one last unusual move of this midterm season — Sean Hannity of Fox News took the stage to reassure voters. (Reuters)

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