President Donald Trump tweet-complained again today about the “fake” New York Times and Washington Post – nothing unusual there, even if he did add what sounds like a legal-advice qualifier (“in my opinion”) and was oddly specific about how long the two publications will remain in business (“7 years!”).
“Twitter is getting rid of fake accounts at a record pace,” Trump tweeted this morning (see it below). “Will that include the Failing New York Times and propaganda machine for Amazon, the Washington Post, who constantly quote anonymous sources that, in my opinion, don’t exist – They will both be out of business in 7 years!”
What makes his fake news gripe all the more amusing than usual, though, is that the tweet comes two days after Donald Trump Jr. seems to have made up a bit of his own, reportedly accusing The New York Times of publishing a headline that didn’t, well, exist.
According to an article posted today on the Dallas Morning News website, Trump Jr., speaking at a rally in Montana Thursday just before his dad took the stage, told the crowd about the time he went prairie dog-hunting with Greg Gianforte, the Montana congressman who made headlines last year when he punched a Guardian journalist and broke the guy’s glasses.
“We even went out to do some prairie doggin’,” Trump Jr. told the crowd. “But by the time The New York Times got a hold of it, we were shooting ‘pregnant dogs.’ Not prairie dogs — pregnant dogs. So that was your fake news media. This was the headline. I’m saying, I don’t remember doing that!”
He doesn’t really remember the headline either, because it never appeared. As Dallas News points out, the Humane Society of the United States had, indeed, noted that Jr.’s prairie doggin’ trip coincided with the time of year when prairie dog pups are nursing. The advocacy group released a statement saying, “Pregnant Prairie Dogs Need to Be Protected Not Shot.”
But it was Gianforte – he was at Thursday’s rally, too – who first told the fake “pregnant dogs” anecdote, telling a local newspaper last year, “When the story got picked up by newspapers like the Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe and Washington Post, the word ‘prairie’ got dropped and so the headline read ‘Donald Trump Jr. shoots pregnant dogs in Montana.'”
After Thursday’s rally, Dallas News went looking for those Tribune, Globe and Post headlines. Any surprise it didn’t find them?
Writes Dallas‘ Washington Bureau Chief Todd J. Gillman, “A search of The Times’ archives shows no headline of the sort Trump Jr. claimed, nor even a printed version of a story about the hunt.” The Times did publish an Associated Press story online, and a subsequent letter to the editor about it, with no mention of the prairie dogs either nursing or being pregnant.
Gillman writes that Trump Jr.’s Times-bashing tale “set off guffaws and brief chants of ‘fake news'” at Thursday’s rally. Shortly thereafter, the president took the stage, pointed to the press section and said, “Fake news. Bad people.”