White House senior staff routinely feed the president fake news, Politico reports in an article headlined, “How Trump gets his fake news.”
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus was especially annoyed that “K.T. McFarland, the deputy national security adviser, had given Trump a printout of two Time magazine covers,” one of which “supposedly from the 1970s, warned of a coming ice age” while the other, more recent, was “about surviving global warming.”
The problem is that the 1970s cover is fake, part of an internet hoax that has been around for years — and was debunked by Time’s Bryan Walsh in a 2013 article, “Sorry, a TIME Magazine cover did not predict a coming ice age.”
With a White House that resets the outrage baseline every week, it may be hard to get worked up over the fact that lots of staffers try to “secretly slip” fake news to the president. After all, McFarland is a former Fox News national security analyst — and Fox News loves to push the global cooling myth even after they explained a decade ago why it was nonsense.
Even so, we should all worry that the deputy national security adviser tried to dupe the president with a long-debunked hoax about the gravest preventable security threat America faces and to convince Trump the media is unreliable using a phony magazine cover.
The story is sourced to no less than “four White House officials familiar with the matter.”
Yes, everybody in the White House knows what’s going on. As Politico explains, everyone is trying to “gain an edge in the seemingly endless Game of Thrones inside the West Wing.” Hopefully, things will end up better than they do on HBO’s show of betrayal, revenge, and regicide.
The fake global cooling story has about as a happy an ending as is possible in this White House. After McFarland’s gambit, “Trump quickly got lathered up about the media’s hypocrisy,” before “staff chased down the truth and intervened before Trump tweeted or talked publicly about it.”
To be clear, the White House’s version of “the truth” isn’t the actual truth:
[One] White House official familiar with the matter tried to defend it as an honest error that was “fake but accurate.”
“While the specific cover is fake, it is true there was a period in the 70s when people were predicting an ice age,” the official insisted. “The broader point I think was accurate.”
Uhh, no. Even in the 1970s predictions of of human-caused global warming “made up the bulk of scientific literature,” a major 2008 study pointed out.
So in this White House, there are apparently two kinds of fake news. There’s the run-of-the-mill fake news that the president, his team, and conservative media outlets routinely report and repeat. That kind is encouraged.
Then there’s the fake news that is so egregiously fake it actually bothers the chief of staff. That kind is discouraged. What a relief.