President-elect Donald Trump is on a crusade against what he deems to be “fake news.”
During a press conference Wednesday, President-elect Donald Trump dismissed an intelligence report saying Russian operatives are in possession of compromising information about him as “fake news.”
“It’s all fake news, it’s phony stuff, it didn’t happen,” Trump said, echoing what he tweeted earlier in the day.
FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
During the presser, Trump also got into a shouting match with CNN’s Jim Acosta and referred to CNN — the outlet that broke the story that Trump and President Obama had been briefed about the intelligence report — as “fake news.”
On Thursday, Trump was back at it.
.@CNN is in a total meltdown with their FAKE NEWS because their ratings are tanking since election and their credibility will soon be gone!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2017
That wasn’t the first time since the election Trump has deployed that smear against CNN.
Reports by @CNN that I will be working on The Apprentice during my Presidency, even part time, are ridiculous & untrue – FAKE NEWS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2016
Of course, there’s an important distinction between reporting that aims at that truth — even if reporters end up getting some things wrong — and maliciously false articles, or “fake news.” The line isn’t always clear, but the definition of “fake news” certainly isn’t reporting that Trump dislikes.
With that caveat in mind, it’s ironic that Trump is now on a crusade against fake news, because in recent years, he’s been responsible for more than his fair share of it. Here are just a handful of fake news stories and false conspiracy theories that Trump has pushed. Many more examples could be cited.
Obama stood by his completely unfounded birther beliefs until this past September, when he finally acknowledged that “ President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.”
Trump never disclosed the identity of the “extremely credible source” who apparently led him astray.
Massive voter fraud
In November, Trump tweeted:
In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2016
There’s no evidence of voter fraud anywhere near that scale. Election law expert Rick Hasen told Politico that “the problem of noncitizen voting is quite small — like we’re talking claims in the dozens, we’re not talking voting in the millions, or the thousands, or even the hundreds.”
Hillary Clinton conspiracies
From an October CNN report about a Trump rally in Pennsylvania:
Straying from the prepared remarks on his teleprompter, the Republican nominee reignited his attacks on Hillary Clinton’s physical and mental health, arguing that the former secretary of state “could be crazy” and lacks the “stamina” to be president — even imitating Clinton stumbling into her car while leaving a 9/11 ceremony last month.
And just as he is once again drawing attention to former President Bill Clinton’s sex scandals, Trump took his political attacks a step further, questioning, with no evidence, whether the Democratic nominee is “loyal” to her husband.
Ted Cruz’s dad and the JFK assassination
In May, Trump accused Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, of being photographed with lee Harvey Oswald shortly before Oswald murdered JFK — adding fuel to an unfounded conspiracy first published by the pro-Trump National Enquirer.
During an interview with Fox News, Trump said:
His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being — you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous… What is this, right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. They don’t even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it… I mean, what was he doing — what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting? It’s horrible.
In response, Cruz joked, “Yes, my dad killed JFK, he is secretly Elvis, and Jimmy Hoffa is buried in his backyard.”
Muslims and 9/11
During a rally in Alabama in November 2015, Trump claimed that in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, “I watched in Jersey City where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.”
There is no evidence anybody in New Jersey was seen celebrating the September 11 attacks, let alone “thousands and thousands.”
Pressed by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos a couple days later — “the police say it didn’t happen,” Stephanopoulos told him — Trump stood by his claim, adding, “There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down. Not good.”
Vaccines and autism
As ThinkProgress detailed this week after Trump tapped anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to chair a commission on vaccine safety, “the only study to ever even suggest a connection between the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) and autism has been massively and certifiably discredited.” In short, there’s no evidence a link exists.
Nonetheless, Trump has repeatedly expressed skepticism about the scientific consensus that vaccines don’t cause autism. It appears he still harbors doubts. Following his meeting with Trump, Kennedy Jr. said the president-elect has “some doubts” about current vaccine policies and the science behind them.
Speaking of scientific consensus, on Election Day 2012, Trump posted this infamous tweet:
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012
When Hillary Clinton brought up this tweet during the first presidential debate in September, Trump flatly denied ever posting it.
“I did not. I did not. I do not say that,” he said. Later, he called it a “joke.”