How many media “bombshells” on Donald Trump have backfired thus far?
The first that comes to mind is the the dossier Buzzfeed published before the election. The website behind hard hitting pieces such as “how trash are your Dunkin Donuts opinions,” “you can only eat chocolate if you pass this quiz,” and “China finally nailed making ballpoint pens and everyone is excited AF,” released what they claimed was a letter from a retired British intelligence agent detailing Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia, and asserted that the Kremlin has been aiding Trump for the past five years.
Even they had to note in the piece that the claims were unverified – and were quickly proven to be embarrassingly false.
Months later came this week’s Maddow madness, in which millions of liberals nationwide were trolled into thinking that they’d finally learn the juicy details of Trump’s taxes – only to find out that he paid $38 million over a decade ago (in a time period when the New York Times and Hillary Clinton claimed during the campaign trail that Trump probably wasn’t paying taxes).
So desperate are some on the left for a “bombshell” story that they’re shelling out thousands for fake news. According to the Daily Caller, A liberal activist desperate to take down President Donald Trump paid thousands of dollars for what turned out to be forged documents, revealing a willingness among Trump’s critics to believe almost anything that might hurt his presidency.
The Israeli flew to Rome in January to meet with an Italian businessman who promised him a set of potentially explosive documents on Trump in exchange for $9,000 in cash, reports Buzzfeed News. The documents appeared to prove ExxonMobil had secretly bribed the president to nominate Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state, and the man eagerly passed them on to Democrat operatives and journalists. But they turned out to be forgeries.
The forged documents regarding the ExxonMobil bribe involved a network of people, including the Italian businessman, who claims to be a knight, an American felon who spends time digging up dirt on Trump, and the Israeli who fell for the scam.
Buzfeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith cautions journalists to watch out in a companion piece: “And those of us covering the story and the stew of real information, fantasy, and — now — forgery around it need to continue to report and think clearly about what we know and what we don’t, and to resist the sugar high that comes with telling people exactly what they want to hear.”
Buzzfeed also introduced their article on the subject with the sentence that “An elaborate hoax based on forged documents escalates the phenomenon of “fake news” and reveals an audience on the left that seems willing to believe virtually any claim that could damage Trump.”
Funny, because they’re in that camp too.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]