Snopes.com is sometimes derided by conservatives as a liberal news operation disguised as a fact-checking site.
But this month, Snopes put out a report favorable to President Trump, concluding that, yes, he is the victim of lies in the news and in social media. In a way, the report bolsters Mr. Trump’s Twitter rants against “fake news.”
Snopes writes about a “major strand of falsehood about the president that feeds into his persona as a bumbling fool, prone to accidents and devoid of any cultural sophistication.”
The Snopes report generally shies away from criticizing the established news media — the liberal New York Times-CNN-Washington Post-led anti-Trump reporting that the president castigates the most.
In fact, none of those three is mentioned by Snopes, even though former FBI director James B. Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee that “many, many stories” on the Trump-Russia probe are “dead wrong.”
Trump supporters say the motive for Mr. Comey’s conclusion is obvious: The mainstream media is trying to destroy the Trump presidency.
Snopes headlined its article, “The Lies of Donald Trump’s Critics, and How They Shape His Many Personas.”
“This article is intended as a neutral, reliable analysis of the lies, false allegations and misleading claims made about and against Donald Trump since his inauguration in January 2017,” Snopes explains. “We’ve attempted to strip away the hyperbole, name-calling and generalizations, and examine the patterns and trends at work: what characterizes these lies and exaggerations, the effect they have, what might explain them.”
Snopes does mention a few mainstream media errors, such as Politico reporting that the president signed a kid’s hat at the White House Easter egg roll but then carelessly tossed it to the crowd. Video showed he tossed it directly to the owner.
Also cited is a Newsweek report that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “evaded” Mr. Trump’s “notorious bone-crunching power handshake” by hugging the president instead. Missing from the account, said Snopes, is the fact that hugging is how Mr. Modi likes to greet fellow world leaders.
Snopes did not cite other, more serious mainstream media errors, such as Time’s report that Mr. Trump removed the bust of Martin Luther King form the Oval Office when he had not.
Or the BBC reporting that Mr. Trump snubbed Italy’s prime minister by not wearing an English-translation headset, when in fact he did listen via an earpiece.
Or The New York Times’ report in February that said Trump aides and “senior Russian intelligence officials” had repeated contacts in the year leading up to the election. Mr. Trump’s team denies this, as did a more neutral source — Mr. Comey.
Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, asked Mr. Comey: “Would it be fair to characterize that story as almost entirely wrong?”
“Yes,” Mr. Comey said.
It would be virtually impossible for Snopes to cover all the inaccurate anti-Trump stories, as listed by conservative news sites.
Another egregious story, according to Snopes, was a report that the Trump White House took down all references to climate change and LGBTQ rights from its website, when in fact it was simply transitioning from the Barack Obama home page to the Donald Trump WhiteHouse.gov.
“Another major strand of falsehood about the President is the one that feeds into his persona as a bumbling fool, prone to accidents and devoid of any cultural sophistication,” Snopes said.
In March, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny came to the White House for the yearly St. Patrick’s Day White House visit. Recognizing America’s long friendship with Ireland, Mr. Trump read what he said was one of his favorite proverbs: “Always remember to forget the friends that proved untrue, but never forget to remember those that have stuck by you.”
The press immediately pounced, saying the president cited as an Irish proverb words written by a Nigerian poet.
Snopes said Mr. Trump never identified the words as coming from Ireland. The president used it to support his lead-in: “As we stand together with our Irish friends “
“The entire episode is a remarkable example of something bordering on collective hallucination, most likely brought on by confirmation bias,” the Snopes article said. “Here hundreds of thousands of people — including professional journalists working for influential news organizations, and a chat show host with more than three million nightly viewers [Stephen Colbert] — literally heard Trump say something he never said, in most cases probably because it confirmed a pre-existing image of the President as a poorly read, culturally ignorant buffoon.”
The article was written by Dan MacGuill, whom Snopes describes as a “journalist and fact-checker from Dublin, Ireland.”
Conservatives took to Twitter to express pleasant surprise that Snopes would devote any space to debunking anti-Trump stories.
“This is really surprising and unexpected from Snopes,” said Ashley Rae, AKA @Communism_Kills.
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