Speed Reads

Fake News

Jake Tapper runs down how a Trump lie became a fake fact, and he spreads the blame pretty widely

CNN's Jake Tapper said Wednesday night that he's disheartened by a new poll. He traced the objectionable results back to President Trump's tweets in February accusing former President Barack Obama of tapping his phones in Trump Tower, then played clips of House Speaker Paul Ryan and FBI Director James Comey unequivocally shooting down those claims. "So that would have seemingly been that — except that the president and his team kept pushing ways to make this evidence-free claim somewhere, sort of, possibly in the neighborhood of almost not entirely false," Tapper said. "Now, they failed, but they muddied the waters quite a bit, and now, here are the shocking numbers."

In a new ABC/Washington Post poll, he said, "32 percent of the public thinks President Obama intentionally spied on Donald Trump and members of his campaign, and 52 percent of Republicans believe this charge — a charge that there is literally no evidence to support; it is the definition of fake news." Americans can believe what they want — "18 percent of the public says they've seen or been in the presence of a ghost — I mean, whatever," Tapper said — "but in a thriving democracy, truth matters and facts matter. We learned in the campaign that Donald Trump can be cavalier about facts and truth. We learned in his first 100 days that that's not going to change, indeed that some in the government and some of his friends in conservative media will even work to try to make his falsehoods seem true."

But then Tapper pulled back, pointing out that "fake news" cuts both ways, and there's "a lot of incendiary nonsense against Trump on the left that is just as fake." Otherwise sensible journalists retweet some of that news on Twitter. The news media has to be very careful to present only facts and cogent analysis, he said, "and this is a time for you, the public, to demand evidence from your leaders and from your media, even if you already agree with the politics of the person on your TV." Watch below. Peter Weber