Sometimes Trump Jr. himself shared misleading or inaccurate information. On Monday, he did so despite the information itself having been debunked.
In the article he was sharing.
President Trump and his allies have been pushing to cast the vote-counting that’s continuing in Florida as fraught with illegal ballots and broadly questionable. There’s no evidence that anything untoward is happening; the Florida secretary of state’s office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement both say they’ve seen no evidence of illegal activity. Trump and Gov. Rick Scott (R) aren’t thrilled that, as more votes are being counted, Scott’s lead in the Senate race in the state is narrowing. Scott has sued to stop that counting on the apparently unfounded grounds that votes are being illegally cast, and Trump is leveraging his social-media bullhorn to back him up.
Trump Jr., who acts as an informal liaison between the president and the more energetic components of Trump’s political base, has repeatedly shared stories on Twitter making the same case. On Monday afternoon, he posted this:
How it came to his attention isn’t clear. But Media Matters' Matthew Gertz noted that it had been shared by a Trump supporter named David Wohl (father of pro-Trump conspiracy theorist Jacob Wohl) and Charlie Kirk, head of the conservative group Turning Point USA. Kirk’s track record on sharing news stories isn’t that solid; on multiple occasions he’s been caught sharing untrue information on Twitter. Over the weekend, he criticized the media for not reporting that the first Asian American woman elected to Congress was Young Kim (R-Calif.), which the media didn’t report because 1) she hasn’t yet won her race (she’s trailing) and 2) she isn’t the first Asian American woman elected to Congress.
Trump Jr.'s story, you will see if you click the link, is from 2012. It’s been floating around for years in part because the headline is so captivating: 200,000 noncitizen voters would, indeed, be a substantial number. Voter fraud claims often work this way. A large number indicating vast malfeasance is introduced, such as President Trump’s claim that 1.8 million dead people were listed as voters and would cast Democratic ballots in 2016. But the reality is something wildly different. Yes, a lot of dead people are still listed as active voters, because grieving families for some reason don’t prioritize canceling voter registrations while standing graveside. There’s no evidence, though, that any significant number of identities of dead voters were used to cast ballots in 2016 — or have been in any year. That’s the pattern, over and over. Big number used to suggest a big problem, but the reality is a minor or nonexistent violation of the rules.
Take that 2012 story, for example. Here’s an update on the claims it made.
“The initial list of 180,000 names was whittled to 2,625, according to the Florida Department of State. The state then checked a federal database and stated it found 207 noncitizens on the rolls (not necessarily voting but on the rolls). That list was sent to county election supervisors to check and it also turned out to contain errors. An Aug. 1, 2012, state elections document showed only 85 noncitizens were ultimately removed from the rolls out of a total of about 12 million voters at that time.”
From “200,000” to … 85. In total, 0.0007 percent of Florida voters were found to be improperly registered. There’s no evidence that any of those voters cast any ballots — especially in 2018, six years after they were removed from the voter rolls.
Where did the above update on the old figure come from? It came from the same article Trump Jr. shared.
At some point, the Florida NBC affiliate that wrote the story added the above update verbatim at the very top of the story. It was some point before Trump Jr. shared the article, which we know because the New York Times’s Astead W. Herndon tweeted his approval of the inclusion of an update seven minutes before Trump Jr.'s tweet. In other words, at the time that Trump Jr. tweeted the article, the article itself already debunked the point that Trump Jr. was trying to make.
The younger Trump doesn’t have the same obligation to be accurate in his social media as do mainstream media outlets. It’s just a bit ironic to bash the media for its purported inaccuracies while sharing misleading information that has already been demonstrated as inaccurate. Trump’s tweeting is amazing, but not shocking at all anymore.
The next tweet from Trump Jr. after he shared the 2012 story about voting in Florida was a retweet of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling Newsweek “fake news.”