President Trump’s reelection campaign is following through with an idea that Trump floated on Twitter last month, asking supporters in an email Thursday to vote on “which mainstream story in 2017 was the most deceitful, embarrassing — and most of all — FAKE!”
Trump originally proposed awarding the “FAKE NEWS TROPHY” for general coverage and limiting contestants to television networks. The campaign cited the president's Nov. 27 tweet as inspiration but took a slightly different approach, focusing on specific reports and giving consideration to all news outlets.
There are only three nominees, which seems like a small number, considering that more than 150 Trump tweets since the beginning of 2017 have mentioned “fake news.” The president has suggested that fake news is rampant enough to warrant investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Here are the nominees, as listed by the campaign’s email:
- ABC News “MISTAKENLY” reported that candidate Trump directed Michael Flynn to make contact with Russian officials before the election.
- CNN “MISTAKENLY” reported that candidate Donald Trump and his son Donald J. Trump, Jr. had access to hacked documents from WikiLeaks.
- TIME “MISTAKENLY” reported that President Trump removed a bust of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office.
The flaw in the Dec. 1 ABC report was timing. Journalist Brian Ross later corrected his report to say that Flynn, the former national security adviser, was prepared to testify that Trump directed him to contact Russian officials before Inauguration Day, not Election Day.
A couple of things are worth noting here. One is that Ross was punished for his error — a four-week suspension that served as an example of accountability in the media. The other is that Ross’s report, even in corrected form, indicated that Trump might not have told the truth at a February news conference at which he denied ever directing Flynn to discuss sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.
CNN’s mistake also was a matter of timing. The network reported this month that Donald Trump Jr. received an email on Sept. 4, 2016, that granted special access to WikiLeaks documents, but he actually received the email on Sept. 14, 2016, after the documents became public, meaning the email did not indicate collaboration with WikiLeaks. CNN issued a correction.
Time magazine’s error is from Inauguration Day. Before taking office, Trump told the New York Times that he was considering returning a bust of Winston Churchill to the Oval Office; Barack Obama had set a bust of King in Churchill’s old spot and kept another Churchill bust (there are two) in the White House residence.
When Time reporter Zeke Miller spotted a Churchill bust in the Oval Office on the day of Trump’s inauguration and didn’t see one of King, he reported that the bust of King had been removed. But it turned out that Trump had busts of Churchill and King in the Oval Office.
Miller, now at the Associated Press, quickly corrected his report, saying his view of the King bust had been “obscured by a door and an agent.” When Miller tweeted an apology, then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer replied, “Apology accepted.”
The missing bust that wasn’t really missing is, according to the Trump campaign, one of the three worst examples of fake news in 2017.
If that is the case, then perhaps fake news isn’t quite as “out of control” as the president claims.