President Trump again called for libel laws to be changed after a prominent political scientist and think tank leader made up a quote and attributed it to Trump.
Ian Bremmer, the president of the Eurasia Group, tweeted a quote he attributed to Trump on Sunday afternoon.
“President Trump in Tokyo: ‘Kim Jong Un is smarter and would make a better President than Sleepy Joe Biden,' " Bremmer tweeted.
The tweet, styled as a direct quote, was shared by some people who did not verify it. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and CNN contributor Ana Navarro-Cárdenas shared it, according to the Washington Examiner.
“People think they can say anything and get away with it,” Trump tweeted Monday morning. “Really, the libel laws should be changed to hold Fake News Media accountable!”
Trump made waves at a news conference in Tokyo after he sided with North Korea in a war of words with Democratic presidential contender and former vice president Joe Biden.
“Well, [North Korean dictator] Kim Jong Un made a statement that Joe Biden is a low-IQ individual,” Trump told reporters. “I think I agree with him on that.”
Bremmer initially defended the tweet, writing that he believed it was both obviously ludicrous “and yet kinda plausible.”
“Especially on twitter, where people automatically support whatever political position they have. That’s the point,” he wrote.
But he apologized Monday as media coverage grew, saying he had made the quote in jest.
“My tweet yesterday about Trump preferring Kim Jong Un to Biden as President was meant in jest,” he wrote. “I should have been clearer. My apologies.”
The ease with which misinformation spreads on social media remains a pressing problem as the 2020 presidential race gears up. Last week, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media companies allowed a video that was doctored to make House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appear drunk to be uploaded to the sites, where it was viewed millions of times.
A spokeswoman for Eurasia Group, of which Bremmer is president, said that Bremmer had no further comments beyond his apology on Twitter.
Trump, who has made more than 10,000 false or misleading claims while in office, according to The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, has long said that he would like to change U.S. libel laws, which shield defendants from guilt unless they are proved to have made false and defamatory statements against public officials with malicious intent.
That standard dates to a Supreme Court decision from 1964.
Correction May 28: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Ian Bremmer as a current professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business. He is a former professor at the university.