As 2018 comes to a close, it’s time to review the year’s worst cases of media misquotes, misleading narratives, major corrections and straight-up fake news.
While last year’s fake reporting largely occurred during the media’s relentless pursuit to prove Russian collusion, this year’s list is much more varied. However, some themes emerged: stories about then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the U.S. border were routinely flagged for misinformation.
Without further ado, here is the list of 2018’s worst examples of fake news:
- WAPO BLAMES BORDER PATROL FOR DEATH OF 7-YEAR-OLD MIGRANT
The Washington Post published a story in December focusing on a 7-year-old migrant child from Guatemala who died in border patrol custody.
Despite WaPo’s misleading headline suggesting border patrol was to blame for the girl’s death, the full timeline of events and statements from the girl’s father praising border agents revealed a different story.
2. CNN AND THE HILL SPREAD RETRACTED SEXUAL ASSAULT CLAIM AGAINST KAVANAUGH
CNN and The Hill both reported on a sexual assault claim against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in late September without ever mentioning that the claim had been quickly retracted.
Jeffrey Catalan apologized for making a “mistake” in leveling the false claim against Kavanaugh, but CNN and The Hill’s initial reports on the claim failed to note the retraction. The Hill later retracted a tweet bolstering the claim and CNN updated its misleading report.
3. BOSTON GLOBE CORRECTS LIZ WARREN STORY — MAKES HER LESS NATIVE AMERICAN
Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren released a DNA test in October seeking to prove her repeated claims that she has Native American ancestry.
The Boston Globe initially reported on the DNA test by explaining that Warren was somewhere between 1/32 and 1/512 Native American. However, the paper eventually issued two corrections that damaged Warren’s ancestral claims even further.
“The generational range based on the ancestor that the report identified suggests she’s between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native American,” The Globe admitted.
4. NYT ACCUSES NIKKI HALEY OF PURCHASING EXPENSIVE CURTAINS
The New York Times initially tied U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley to expensive curtains hanging in the ambassador’s apartment in New York, writing, “Nikki Haley’s View of New York Is Priceless. Her Curtains? $52,701.”
However, NYT’s own article later admitted that the curtains were approved in 2016 and that Haley had no say in the matter.
5. MEDIA STILL BLAMING REPUBLICANS FOR STEELE DOSSIER
CNN’s Jim Sciutto, MSNBC’s Katy Tur, and MSNBC’s Ari Melber were all responsible for falsely claiming that Never-Trump Republicans were responsible for initial funding of the salacious Steele dossier.
Washington Free Beacon founder Paul Singer did pay Fusion GPS for standard opposition research, however, he stopped paying Fusion GPS well before they contracted Christopher Steele to create the dossier. That research was paid for solely by the DNC and the Clinton campaign.
This falsehood has been shared so many times that even former FBI director James Comey has repeated it.
6. CNN ANALYST PUBLISHES DUBIOUS REPORT ON ADDITIONAL KAVANAUGH ALLEGATIONS
CNN political analyst and Sentinel editor Brian Karem published a report in September claiming that “Montgomery County investigators” were looking into an additional allegation of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Local police disputed that they were investigating any claims, and Karem later updated his reporting to indicate that his sources were not police, but rather random “investigators in Montgomery County.”
7. CNN ACCUSES TED CRUZ OF BEING AFRAID TO APPEAR ON THEIR NETWORK
Sen. Ted Cruz blasted CNN for the falsehood, explaining on Twitter that he had done a 15-minute interview on the network the day prior.
“CNN has aired NONE of it,” Cruz complained. “Why not air the (entire) interview?
8. CNN SPREADS FALSE STATISTIC ON SCHOOL SHOOTING
After a May school shooting in Texas, CNN anchor Jim Sciutto and political correspondent Sara Murray both claimed that there had already been 22 school shootings in 2018.
CNN’s list of “school shootings” includes accidental firearm discharges, events that don’t involve any students, and domestic disputes — hardly the incidents that most people consider to be a school shooting.
9. MCCLATCHY CLAIMS MUELLER HAS EVIDENCE THAT CORROBORATES PIECE OF DOSSIER
McClatchy reported in April that special counsel Robert Mueller had evidence that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen had been in Prague in the summer of 2016. The report appeared to corroborate a key part of the largely unverified Steele dossier.
But no other news outlets came forward to confirm McClatchy’s reporting and a spokesperson for Mueller’s team hinted to The Daily Caller News Foundation that the report may be false.
Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, emphatically denied in December that Cohen had ever been in Prague as the dossier alleges.
10. JIM ACOSTA SAID ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS WOULDN’T CLIMB BORDER
CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta got into an ugly, public battle with President Donald Trump over immigration in November. During the testy exchange, Acosta claimed that illegal immigrants would “not be” trying to climb over the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Unfortunately for Acosta, images a week later revealed that immigrants were doing exactly what he claimed they wouldn’t.
11. ANDREA MITCHELL SAYS DISGRACED FL ELECTION OFFICIAL IS A REPUBLICAN
Allegations of voter fraud and electoral misconduct in Florida during the 2018 midterms brought Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes into the spotlight.
Snipes, a Democrat, had been accused of misconduct in the past and was slammed again for violating Florida election law.
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell bafflingly said on air that Snipes is a Republican and “hardly a Democratic official, or someone doing the bidding of the Democratic candidates there.”
12. CHRIS CUOMO SHARES FALSE STORY ABOUT AR-15 PURCHASE
CNN anchor Chris Cuomo spread a false story claiming that a 20-year-old student was able to purchase an AR-15 rifle without going through a background check.
The story itself admitted that the student never actually finished filling out paperwork — which would trigger the background check — nor did he purchase the gun.
Cuomo doubled down on sharing the story, insisting that the “point” he was trying to make still stood.
13. MEDIA CLAIMS TRUMP CALLED THE FBI A ‘CANCER’
President Donald Trump referred to corruption and bias within the FBI, particularly related to the Russia probe, as a “cancer” during a September interview with The Hill.
The media repeatedly misquoted the president and claimed he called the FBI itself “cancer,” despite clarification from the two people who interviewed him.
14. RACHEL MADDOW ACCUSES WH OF EDITING PUTIN TAPE
MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow opened a show in July by insisting that the Trump administration edited a tape of the president’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 16 in Helsinki.
The Washington Post’s Phillip Bump pointed out that the error was made by reporters too and was due to a change “between the feed from the reporters and the feed from the translator.”
15. CNN’S TRUMP TOWER STORY OBLITERATED BY LANNY DAVIS
CNN reported in July that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen was prepared to tell special counsel Robert Mueller that the president had knowledge in advance of a Trump Tower meeting between his son and Russians.
But Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, said in August that CNN’s reporting got “mixed up” and that Cohen had no information related to the Trump Tower meeting. Cohen said the same to Congress on two separate occasions.
CNN doubled, tripled, and quadrupled down on its reporting, despite a series of issues with the report. (The Daily Caller)
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