The President Elect tweeted car manufacturers Ford had rung him to say a manufacturing plant in Kentucky was no longer moving to Mexico.
Trump, whose campaign message focussed heavily on protecting American manufacturing jobs, said he “worked hard” to keep the plant outside Louisville, Kentucky open, saying: “I owed it to the great State of Kentucky for their confidence in me!”
But Ford later clarified it had told Trump the production of one model - the Lincoln MKC SUV - was no longer due to move from Kentucky to Mexico.
The move was not slated to lead to any job losses at the Kentucky plant because production of another model, the Ford Escape, would have been stepped up there.
But before anyone tried to verify what Trump said, news agency Reuters reported Trump’s tweets as if his Twitter feed was trustworthy news sources.
The agency later amended the story to include Ford’s clarification, now with the headline: “Ford tells Trump no Lincoln SUV production going to Mexico.”
But the damage was already done. Trump’s tweets have earned retweets in the tens of thousands.
After an election poisoned by “fake news” spread by partisan sources passing themselves off as objective observers, Trump’s tweets caused serious concern.
James Poniewozik, a TV critic for the New York Times, painted a depressing picture of what is happening. In a thread of tweets, he began by saying “The president-elect’s Twitter account is a competing media outlet spreading fake news.”
He shared a link to his paper’s story pointing out Trump was lying but noted that, by the time for the media published stories debunking Trump, his false claim was circulating widely on social media and the top story on Google News was a “weak” story by The Detroit Free Press that didn’t state Trump had lied in his tweets.
He said the story was not “that jobs that weren’t going to be lost still aren’t going to be lost” but that the President Elect was spreading fake news.” He said pushing back against this would be a “bigger part of the media’s job” rather than encourage it.
“A lie goes round the world while the truth is tying its shoes,” he said, quoting Mark Twain. “At least don’t give the lie a ride to the airport.”
Trump was one of the most dishonest presidential candidates. Politico counted his “exaggerations, half truths and misrepresentations” and found he lied during speeches and interviews every three and a half minutes, on average.
Judging by his behaviour since the election, being president will not change this.
This week, he has continued his feud with The New York Times, tweeting easily disproved statements about what he has and has not said during his campaign for the White House.
The influx of new media outlets and blurred the distinction between bonafide news sources and ones that are egregiously partisan or outright fakes.
A HuffPost UK investigation showed “news” websites, authenticated by Facebook, were sharing obviously fake news and receiving tens of thousands of shares before they were removed.