CNN's Jim Sciutto: "We have the president of the United States tweeting about a missile launch that didn't take place"
After repeatedly calling reporters "fake news," Trump pushes a fake news story about Iran
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On September 23, President Donald Trump falsely claimed on Twitter that Iran had “test-fired a Ballistic Missile,” presumably based on a report from Iranian state television that turned out to be fake. Trump frequently uses the term “fake news” to delegitimize journalists and news outlets, but he has repeatedly pushed stories that are truly fake news such as the Iran missile story. In January, Trump invoked a fake news story that “thousands” of members of the group Bikers for Trump came to his inauguration, and, in February, a fake news story was shared on his Facebook page claiming Kuwait had imposed a Muslim ban similar to the one he sought to enact. Trump has also been accused of helping to craft a false story for a Fox News article about slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. Other Trump aides have pushed fake news, such as White House social media director Dan Scavino, who shared a fake video of flooding during Hurricane Irma, and Michael Flynn Jr., a transition staffer who was forced to resign after he pushed the baseless Pizzagate conspiracy theory.
On the September 26 edition of CNN’s Wolf, host Brianna Keilar and national security correspondent Jim Sciutto discussed the latest perplexing example of Trump spreading misinformation by “tweeting about a missile launch that didn’t take place”:
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BRIANNA KEILAR (HOST): While I have you here, I want to ask you about this Iran tweet from the president recently, saying, “Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel. They are also working with North Korea. Not much of an agreement we have!” Military officials actually tell us there is no indication of a ballistic missile launch. What's going on with this tweet then?
JIM SCIUTTO: We have the president of the United States tweeting about a missile launch that didn't take place. And his tweets are not just tweets, right? They are official statements of the elected leader of the free world. And those have consequences. So --
KEILAR: He’s reacting to something that he hears from Iran, but he’s not actually vetting it, it seems, with what he’s getting and -- I mean, he has the best information of anyone, right?
SCIUTTO: Well, we did ask -- our White House team did ask the White House yesterday if the president was briefed on the Iranian missile launch before he gave his tweet and their answer was, perhaps not surprisingly, “We don't comment on intelligence matters.” It appears either he was not or he did not base that tweet on actual intelligence because U.S. intelligence had no indication at that time. And that intelligence comes pretty quickly when you’re talking about missile launches because that’s something that’s detected in real time. So, in terms of credibility, to have the president tweet about a missile launch that didn't take place, that's an issue.
KEILAR: Maybe not unusual for him though.