Fake News for the Week Ending February 14, 2020

Happy Valentine’s Day, and here’s all the fake news news happening this week:

  • You’ve probably seen the photo of a windswept President Donald J. Trump that shows the contrast between his normal pale skin color and the artificially enhanced tan (or whatever) on the front of his face. Not surprisingly, the president is tweeting about it, calling the photo “More Fake News. This was photoshopped, obviously, but the wind was strong and the hair looks good? Anything to demean!” As experts have shown, it’s not fake or Photoshopped; it’s a real photo, perhaps intensified a tad by the iPhone camera’s built-in photo filters, but real nonetheless. The Guardian tells the tale.

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  • Eliza Mackintosh of CNN opines that the totally forked up Iowa Democratic caucus enables domestic and foreign actors to credibly spread conspiracy theories that sow doubts about the country’s democratic (small-d) process. Read the article here.
  • There is yet another doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi making the social media rounds (and being retweeted by Donald J. Trump himself.) This one edits her ripping up President Trump’s State of the Union address to make it look like she did so after Trump mentions his various special guests, and not at the end, as she actually did. Democrats are calling for Facebook and Twitter to take down the video, which as of yet they haven’t. The Washington Post tells you all about it.
  • The widely discredited QAnon conspiracy theory is spreading from the Internet to the real world, with right-wing politicians, Trump followers, and more spouting the totally insane “facts” behind the theory. What are the implications for the more sane among us? The New York Times has the story, which is truly disturbing.
  • In the “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here!” department, a leaked memo from Fox News admits that five regular contributors (Bryan S Murphy, Rudy Giuliani, John Solomon, Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova) are known to have spread pro-Trump disinformation over the network. The Daily Beast broke the story.

  • In the latest coronavirus news, the U.S. military is tracking Russian government news agencies for signs they may be spreading information about coronavirus. Newsweek has the story.
  • Business Insider has more details about how the Russian troll farm Internet Research Agency (IRA) spread disinformation during the 2016 presidential election. As an inside source tells it, “Our goal wasn’t to turn the Americans toward Russia. Our task was to set Americans against their own government: to provoke unrest and discontent, and to lower Obama’s support ratings.” Read all about it here.
  • Finally, how can you confront friends and family about the conspiracy theories they may be spreading? It’s tough, but it can be done. Bloomberg (the news agency, not the candidate) tells you how.

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