Trump Has Called Dozens Of Things Fake News. None Of Them Are.

President Donald Trump has attacked news outlets, individuals, and reports that portray him in an unflattering light as “fake news.” But in doing so he’s continuing conservative media’s bastardization of the term, as none of the things he points to actually constitute “fake news.” At the same time, several people close to Trump have propagated fake news through social media.

The Definition Of Fake News

Fake News Is “Clearly And Demonstrably Fabricated” Information That “Has Been Packaged And Distributed To Appear As Legitimate News.” Media Matters defines “fake news” as “information that is clearly and demonstrably fabricated and that has been packaged and distributed to appear as legitimate news.” We wrote that using a “narrow definition” helps “distinguish fake news from other types of misleading information by clarifying that the former is patently false and was created and presented in a way meant to deceive consumers into thinking it is real.” We also clarified that the term refers “to a specific piece of information; it does not refer to any particular type of news outlet, individual, or other actor.” [Media Matters, 12/15/16]

Trump Has Called These Things Fake News -- But None Of Them Are:

The Media

Trump: “FAKE NEWS Media Refuse[d] To Mention” The “Big Crowds Of Enthusiastic Supporters Lining The Road.”

[Twitter, 2/12/17]

Trump: “I Call My Own Shots, Largely Based On An Accumulation Of Data” But “Some FAKE NEWS Media” Lie About It “In Order To Marginalize.”

[Twitter, 2/6/17]

Trump Baselessly Claimed Media “Purposely Totally Change” What He Says Such That “It’s Fake News.” During a February 5 interview with Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, President Donald Trump asserted that the media “will purposely, totally change” what he says to create “fake news.” From the interview, which aired February 7:

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I have never -- I call it, you know, fake news. Some of the networks and some of the papers, it’s so dis- -- the level of dishonesty, where they’ll take a story that should be good. I know good from bad.


TRUMP: They’ll take something that should be a good story, in fact sometimes I’ll say, “Oh, this is going to be a nice story, [unintelligible].” And they will purposely, totally change it. It’s fake news. [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 2/7/17]

Trump: “Much Of” The Media Is “Distorted” And “Fake News.” During a January 31 interview with CBN, Trump repeatedly referred to the media as “fake news,” claiming, “Much of it is fake news.” Trump cited a tweet from Time reporter Zeke Miller, who falsely asserted that Trump had removed a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office before realizing his mistake and correcting his tweet. Trump added that “much of the media is distorted and fake.” [YouTube, 1/31/17; The Hill, 1/21/17]

Trump: “Much Of The Media .... Is Very, Very Dishonest” And “Fake News.” In a January 26 interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity, Trump suggested that “much of the media .... is very, very dishonest,” adding, “Honestly, it’s fake news.” [Fox News, Hannity, 1/26/17]

Trump: “A Couple Of FAKE NEWS Organizations” Attended His January 11 Press Conference.

[Twitter, 1/11/17]

Trump: “Some Of The Media Outlets That I Deal With Are Fake News More So Than Anybody.” At a January 11 press conference, Trump claimed that while he’s “been hearing more and more about a thing called fake news, ... some of the media outlets that I deal with are fake news more so than anybody.” [YouTube, 1/11/17]


[Twitter, 1/10/17]


Trump Falsely Claimed That “FAKE NEWS @CNN … Cut Off” Sanders “For Using The Term Fake News To Describe The Network.” President Donald Trump in a February 12 tweet asserted that “FAKE NEWS” CNN “cut off” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) “for using the term fake news to describe the network.” PolitiFact noted that the tweet “distorted what happened when Sanders brought up ‘fake news’ on CNN,” adding, “Sanders was actually criticizing Trump’s repeated outcries that CNN is a fake news source. His audio did go out after this joke, but the CNN host picked up the interview after a commercial break for about nine more minutes.” [PolitiFact, 2/12/17; Twitter, 2/12/17]

Trump: “I Don’t Watch CNN” Because “I Don’t Like Watching Fake News.” In remarks to reporters before a February 1 listening session for Black History Month, Trump told reporters that he doesn’t “watch CNN” because “I don’t like watching fake news.” [YouTube, 2/1/17]

Trump: Fox News’ Ratings “Were Many Times Higher Than FAKE NEWS @CNN.”

[Twitter, 1/24/17]

Trump: CNN “Is In A Total Meltdown With Their FAKE NEWS.”

[Twitter, 1/12/17]

Trump To CNN’s Jim Acosta: “You Are Fake News.” During a January 11 press conference, Trump repeatedly shouted down CNN’s Jim Acosta, telling him, “You are fake news.” [YouTube, 1/11/17]

Trump: Reports From CNN “That I Will Be Working On The Apprentice During My Presidency” Were “FAKE NEWS!”

[Twitter, 12/10/16]

The New York Times

Trump Erroneously Criticized The “Failing” NY Times Over Its “Major FAKE NEWS China Story.” Trump lashed out at the supposedly ”failing" New York Times on Twitter, claiming that the paper ran a story which said that Trump and President Xi Jinping of China had "'not spoken ... since Nov. 14'" when they had actually spoken on February 9, calling the story “FAKE NEWS.” However, the story was updated after the call to state that the leaders spoke “Thursday evening” about the "’One China’ policy." The story also stated that until that call, the leaders “had not spoken ... since Nov. 14.” [Twitter, 2/10/17; The New York Times, 2/9/17]

Trump: “The FAKE NEWS” NY Times “Is Still Lost.”

[Twitter, 2/4/17]

Trump: The “Failing” NY Times Is “FAKE NEWS” And “Has Been Wrong About Me From The Very Beginning.”

[Twitter, 1/28/17]


Trump: “Any Negative Polls Are Fake News.”

[Twitter, 2/6/17]

Reports About His Phone Call With The Australian Prime Minister

Trump: “FAKE NEWS Media Lied” About His Conversation With The Prime Minister Of Australia. Trump lashed out at the “FAKE NEWS media” on Twitter after outlets reported that Trump “abruptly ended” a call with the Australian prime minister. One source told The Washington Post that the call was “‘the worst call by far.’” Trump, however, claimed that the media “lied” about the call and that it had been a “very civil conversation.” [Twitter, 2/3/17; The Washington Post, 2/2/17]

NBC News

Trump: “Totally Biased @NBCNews” Is “FAKE NEWS” For Claiming That Companies Are Bringing Jobs To The U.S., “But Had Nothing To Do With TRUMP.”

[Twitter, 1/18/17, 1/18/17]

Reports That Russia Has Information That Would Compromise Him

Trump: The Leaks Are “All Fake News.” During an interview with Fox’s Ainsley Earhardt on January 18, Trump repeatedly asserted that reports that Russia has information that would compromise him were “all fake news,” suggesting that “there’s never going to be anything that shows up” to confirm the claims leaked by intelligence officials. According to CNN, intelligence officials corroborated some aspects of the dossier. [YouTube, 1/18/17; CNN, 1/10/17, 2/10/17]

Trump: “The Whole Thing Is Fake News.” In an interview with London’s The Times, Trump slammed the reports as “fake news,” claiming that the “whole thing is fake news” because the “so-called intelligence” official is “an operative of Republicans and Democrats.” [The Times, 1/16/17]

Trump: Reports Were “FAKE NEWS” That Were “Totally Made Up Facts By Sleazebag Political Operatives.”

[Twitter, 1/13/17, 1/13/17]

Trump: Dossier Claims Were “Fake News” From Intelligence Agencies Taking “One Last Shot” At Him.

[Twitter, 1/11/17]

Trump: Russia Confirmed That “This Fake News Was Indeed Fake News.” During a January 11 press conference, Trump asserted that “President Putin and Russia put out a statement today that this fake news was indeed fake news,” referring to reports that the Russian government had compromising information about him. In the beginning of the press conference, Trump also thanked “a lot of the news organizations” that “came out so strongly against that fake news.” [YouTube, 1/11/17]

Conservatives Have Bastardized The Phrase “Fake News”

Right-Wing Media Have Used The Term “Fake News” To Attack Credible News Sources. Right-wing media have twisted and confused the definition of the phrase “fake news” to attack outlets such as The New York Times and CNN. Some have attempted to completely redefine the term altogether. Radio host Rush Limbaugh, for example, claimed that fake news is largely “satire and parody that liberals don’t understand because they don’t have a sense of humor,” while the Washington Free Beacon’s Bill McMorris asserted that the phrase means “whatever people living in the liberal bubble determine to be believed by the right.” [Media Matters, 12/9/16]

People Close To Trump Have Spread Fake News

Several People Close To Trump Have Propagated Fake News. Several people in Trump’s inner circle, including his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump and his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, have propagated fake news through social media. [Media Matters, 12/6/16]