Mainstream media reporters and commentators appeared to be much too zealous in spreading a false story on social media Friday that was very damaging to Brett Kavanaugh, the president’s nominee to the Supreme Court.
“I should not have RTed this.”
The story was contained in just one tweet, and it had no link, just a claim that the content came from the Wall Street Journal.
Despite the dubious sourcing, various reporters retweeted it over and over for hours, apparently in hope that the damaging story was true.
The tweet came from an account named “Alan Covington,” and it said that Republicans pulled a prosecutor who was questioning Brett Kavanaugh during his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee because she had determined he had lied.
“Mitchell advised Republicans that to continue questioning Kavanaugh she was required by her oath in Arizona to inform Kavanaugh of his rights after he lied to her,” the tweet read.
“That WSJ story doesn’t appear to exist”
But the story was completely false, and they soon began to delete their tweets and undo their retweets.
Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe apologized for rushing to post the tweet.
I erred in believing that the WSJ “story” was authentic and deleted my retweet as soon as I learned the tweet below was fake but didn’t have time to tweet a correction until now. Sorry for the delay. https://t.co/0wDniFLzA6
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) September 28, 2018
“I erred in believing that the WSJ ‘story’ was authentic and deleted my retweet as soon as I learned the tweet below was fake but didn’t have time to tweet a correction until now,” Tribe tweeted. “Sorry for the delay.”
Joshua Holland, a contributor to The Nation, was so incensed by the fake story, he added, “They covered up a felony in the middle of the f**king hearing.” After he discovered it was fake, he tweeted, “Couldn’t find the story at WSJ so I deleted this tweet.”
Aaron Blake of the Washington Post admitted retweeting it and warned others not to keep posting it.
EVERYONE: That WSJ story doesn't appear to exist. Don't RT it.
(Just deleted my own RT, even though I was questioning its existence.)
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) September 28, 2018
Matt Yglesias of Vox News posted a screenshot of his propagation of the story – he got 53 retweets at the time of the screenshot.
I should not have RTed this.
There’s no link and looking at the WSJ site it seems to be fake. pic.twitter.com/htcSFC7Bdh
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) September 28, 2018
Others, like Justin Sink of Bloomberg, mocked everyone for reposting the false story, and also for “freaking out” over it.
d.c. twitter freaking out over a four hour old random tweet from some guy in kansas about a wsj story that doesn't seem to exist is the ending we all deserve
— Justin Sink (@justinsink) September 28, 2018
The owner of the account later claimed that he was hacked when the false message went out.
President Donald Trump has often criticized the news media for what he sees as “fake news” and anti-Republican bias.