CNN's Brian Stelter reported that President Donald Trump posted a false story on his Facebook page alleging that Kuwait imposed a “Trump-esque visa ban for five Muslim-majority countries.” Stelter noted that Kuwait “categorically denied the reports” and that other news outlets issued corrections to their reports while Trump's post remains on Facebook. Even the Middle Eastern blog from which Trump posted his article published a story debunking its own report. BuzzFeed News reported that the story “cited only 'Kuwaiti sources' who spokes to 'local media'” and was picked up by Breitbart News, Infowars, and Sputnik News, a Russian government news site. Stelter said that this is the kind of reporting that Trump “might call 'fake news,'” as Trump has repeatedly disparaged reputable national outlets by calling them “false” and "FAKE NEWS." A number of Trump's associates have also been caught spreading fake news stories on social media in the past. From the February 5 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
BRIAN STELTER (HOST): Before we go, a look at the president's Facebook feed. “Smart,” that's what Trump wrote on Facebook a few days ago, linking to this story by a Middle Eastern blogging site. The headline says, “Kuwait issues its own Trump-esque visa ban for five Muslim-majority countries.” Now, this is what the president might call “fake news.” The president or one of his aides posted the pro-ban story to his official Facebook feed with the caption, “smart.” A quarter of a million people have liked or commented on it. This idea about some sortof Muslim ban by Kuwait has been a popular rumor for awhile, but Kuwait, quote, “categorically denied the reports that it planned to stop issue and entry visas for some nationalities.”
If you don't believe Kuwait, well, here's a headline from Pakistan, one of the countries allegedly affected, quoting a local embassy official saying there is no truth to it. Now, check this out. This is one of the Russian government's own news sites. It calls itself Sputnik News. It jumped on the rumor originally, saying, “Kuwait has ripped a page from the playbook of U.S. President Donald Trump.” But then, Sputnik News had to post a correction saying “the following news article proved to be untrue.” Now, let's go ahead and reload the president's Facebook page. Yeah. The baseless story is still racking up likes and comments. This raises a question: Does sloppiness matter? Do you expect Trump's aides to catch screwups like this, or do you just shrug it off?
For more information on fake news, check out Media Matters' guide to understanding the fake news universe and explainer on Facebook's role in empowering total lies.