Claude Taylor tweeted fake details of criminal inquiries into Trump that were invented by a source whose claim to work for the New York attorney general was not checked, according to emails seen by the Guardian. The allegations were endorsed as authentic and retweeted by his co-writer Louise Mensch.
The source’s false tips included an allegation, which has been aggressively circulated by Mensch and Taylor, that Trump’s inactive fashion model agency is under investigation by New York authorities for possible sex trafficking.
Despite their overt lack of credibility, they still maintain large followings on social media, and Mensch has been published in the New York Times op-ed section, and featured on MSNBC to discuss the Russia narrative. Other media pundits, such as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, have built large audiences with sensationalism, jingoism and false reporting on the Trump-Russia narrative.
In June 2017, three CNN journalists resigned after publishing a fake story involving short-lived White House Press Secretary Anthony Scaramucci and a Russian investment bank under congressional investigation. Three months later, several mainstream outlets reported on a fake story that 21 states had their voting systems hacked by the Russians. The story was allegedly sourced from the Department of Homeland Security, but was later debunked by several states cited in the reports.
Two weeks ago, ABC News‘s Brian Ross’ breaking report that former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors included a false claim that Flynn was going to testify that he was instructed by Trump to communicate with the Russians during his campaign. Ross was suspended for four weeks due to the egregious error.
For all the hysteria over fake news, several mainstream media outlets lend credence to the polarizing partisan rift on the subject when they willingly push and sensationalize fake stories, only to delay correcting them and scoff at the criticisms of their mistakes. The climate that has developed around the Faux Resistance and Trump-Russia narrative enables grifters, lazy reporting, and sensationalism to thrive. Rationality has been abandoned in favor of Cold War era rhetoric that has replaced constructive — and factual — ways to criticize the Trump Administration and the forces that enabled its ascendance into office.