When the history books are written about the Donald Trump era, one of the saddest anecdotes will likely be how Trump and many of his acolytes saw fit to amplify fake news and conspiracy theories. What is more, they have few or no qualms about peddling this claptrap even when it has been proven false beyond all doubt. Even allowing for the fact that they are speaking to an audience that lives mostly in a bubble, this is disturbing.
One of the most sordid examples of this came just this week. Two of Trump’s most ardent supporters shamelessly promoted a claim that Barack Obama’s staffers took an immature swipe at their incoming counterparts from the Trump team. But there were two problems with this. Not only was it not true, but they saw fit to amplify this after Trump’s press secretary admitted it wasn’t true.
Last Tuesday, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham touched off a firestorm when she told Virginia-based talk show host John Fredericks about an unpleasant surprise she and her colleagues found when they arrived at the White House in 2017. She claimed Obama’s staffers had left some extremely immature notes behind for their successors. Listen here.
Grisham initially spent two months as a deputy to original White House press secretary Sean Spicer, working primarily as Trump’s traveling press secretary. She then spent two years as Melania’s press secretary before replacing Sarah Huckabee Sanders as White House press secretary this summer.
In Grisham’s telling, when she and her colleagues first arrived in the press room, they found a big note saying “You will fail.” She claimed that other staffers found their offices festooned with Obama books and notes saying “You will fail” and “You aren’t going to make it.” This sounded like hard proof of one of the Trumpkins’ biggest complaints–that Democrats just can’t accept Trump’s upset victory.
Several Obama White House staffers fell all over themselves to call BS on this latest case of alternative facting, with some going as far as to post photos of the notes they left for their successors. Take Peter Velz, who worked as an assistant to Obama communications director Jen Psaki.
So did Joanna Rosholm, Michelle Obama’s press secretary–and Grisham’s predecessor.
By the following morning, Grisham was forced into a major climbdown. She claimed that she “certainly wasn’t implying that every office had an issue,” but was only referring to what she saw in the lower press office.
Apparently right-wing pundit Jeffrey Lord didn’t get the memo. Last Saturday, Lord took to his blog to wail about how those Obama staffers were just so mean to their incoming successors. Remember, this was a full three days after Grisham’s walkback.
If that wasn’t enough, on Friday, Sean Hannity shared Lord’s post to his Facebook and Twitter followers.
For those of you keeping score, this is more than a week after Grisham walked back her previous remarks. And yet, Hannity still sees fit to amplify it. It’s equally telling that Lord himself still has that post up, even though it’s been debunked.
Trump and his diehards have spent the better part of four years kneecapping the mainstream media and liberal blogosphere for peddling fake news. And yet, his own diehards amplify this dreck even after we learned it wasn’t true. The mind reels.
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