Donald Trump's Son & Campaign Manager Both Tweet Obviously Fake Story

from the not-very-credible dept

It’s no secret that there’s been a huge number of totally fake news websites popping up in the past few years. Apparently, it’s a fun and profitable venture. While some of the fake news sites come up with generic names, like National Report, Hot Global, The Valley Report and Associated Media Coverage, some of the most successful fake news sites just make use of the big well-known broadcaster websites… and just get a .co domain: using or Some of the hoax stories are really well done — and, yes, even we’ve been fooled, though in our defense, the fake story we fell for… was so believable it became true just months later. But, of course, we’re just a bunch of random bloggers, not a Presidential campaign.

The Trump campaign, on the other hand, should know better. Amusingly, of course, this week we’ve talked about the Trump campaign’s willingness to fall for hoaxes, but they seemed to take it up a notch this week. I first noticed it when I saw Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway tweet an obviously fake story, claiming that an anti-Trump protestor was really paid by the Clinton campaign.

You can even see the URL there, showing that it’s “” and not the actual ABC news website (even if Conway does tag the real ABC as if they wrote the article). And, as I was writing up this story, I saw that The Hill notes that Donald Trump’s son, Eric Trump, tweeted the same fake story:

Here’s the thing, though. If you actually look at the story, it’s so obviously fake. I mean, first off, just the claim that a protestor got $3500 to protest a Trump rally? I mean, even Donald Trump himself only paid his fake supporters $50 to cheer at his campaign announcement. Yes, the Clinton campaign has raised a lot more money than the Trump campaign, but $3500 a protestor? I mean, that’s pretty obviously a ridiculous number.

And the article itself just gets more and more ridiculous the more you read. Whoever wrote this is clearly not even trying to fool people. I mean, just read this paragraph about how the guy knows it’s Hillary’s campaign that “paid” because the people who contacted him used AOL:

?As for who these people were affiliated with that interviewed me, my guess would be Hillary Clinton?s campaign,? Horner said. ?The actual check I received after I was done with the job was from a group called ?Women Are The Future?. After I was hired, they told me if anyone asked any questions about who I was with or communicated with me in any way, I should start talking about how great Bernie Sanders is.? Horner continued, ?It was mostly women in their 60?s at the interview that I went to. Plus, all the people that I communicated with had an AOL email address. No one still has an AOL email address except people that would vote for Hillary Clinton.?

Or, how about the made-up Trump supporter in the article saying it was obviously a fake protestor because they shouted facts, or how “the best we could do was just yell and punch ’em.”

?I knew those weren?t real protesters, they were too organized and smart,? said 59-year-old Tom Downey, a Trump supporter who attended the rally in Fountain Hills. ?I knew there was something up when they started shouting all these facts and nonsense like that. The best we could do was just yell and punch em? and stuff.? Downey continued

Yeah, sure. These fit the “stereotypes” but in such an exaggerated way that it’s obviously false.

And then the article actually sorta becomes self-aware, with a pretty big wink to anyone who actually read it that it’s false:

David Mikkelson, founder of, a website known for its biased opinions and inaccurate information they write about stories on the internet in order to generate advertising revenue, told ABC News that he approves of what a story like this is accomplishing.

?You have to understand that when a story like this goes viral, and we spend a minute or two debunking it, we make lots of money. Stories like this have helped put my children through college, buy a new car, a home and even get the Silverback gorilla my wife Barbara always wanted since she was a child,? Mikkleson said. ?We claim ?to provide evidence for such debunkings and confirmation as well?, but that?s just ridiculous. Do you know how much time that would take? Instead, we just copy and paste parts of the original article into ours, write a couple sentences, and that?s it. I just want to be clear, our website does zero journalism or anything creative, and I?m only telling you this for legal reasons….”

That one goes on for a while having the fake Snopes person going on and on about fake news sites, totally unrelated to the subject of this “story.” So, uh, yeah. It’s pretty clear that either Trump’s son and campaign manager read the story and are so completely clueless that they still thought it was real, or they were so excited by what the headline claimed that they just glided right past the ridiculous dollar amount and assumed it must be true. Yes, people get fooled by fake news stories all the time. But having an actual Presidential campaign get fooled by one is… well… bad.

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Comments on “Donald Trump's Son & Campaign Manager Both Tweet Obviously Fake Story”

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The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The way I put it is that “facts are about observation; truth is about understanding”.

I originally arrived at that from the perspective of a context of a Sherlock Holmes-type detective investigating a crime, but I think it applies in pretty much every other context I’ve been able to think of as well.

It certainly dovetails well with Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness”, and his line about not caring for facts but preferring truth instead.

AJ says:

Not sure I agree with you on this one Mike. If professional bloggers/writers such as the ones that write for techdirt can be fooled by the occasional fake story, I would probably lean more towards giving these guys a bit of grace before I beat them with the “your an idiot” stick…

I’m going to give it a bit more thought. I have my stick handy should I change my mind, but meh, seems more silly than “bad”….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I would probably lean more towards giving these guys a bit of grace before I beat them with the “your an idiot” stick…

Considering that they’ve beaten up Hillary Clinton over emails, nonetheless it doesn’t instill any level of confidence that the Trump team is any more technologically literate.

Frankly they should know better…or at least someone on their team should, given the standard they try to hold Hillary to.

I.T. Guy says:

Re: Re:

It’s just like the story about Eric Holder paying Ferguson protestors to riot. LOTS of people believed it myself included.

“If you actually look at the story”
Didnt TD do a story about how PPL just read headlines?

Dunno maybe read it somewhere else.

David says:

Re: Re:

Considering what amount of damage a considerably more plausible fib like “Weapons of Mass Destruction” can wreak on the U.S. and the world, this is not a guy you want to have in control of the U.S. weapons stash.

I mean, feed him something like the “Protocols of the Elders of Baghdad” or a “Muslim World Conspiracy” and sit back and watch the fireworks as the missiles fly.

A country which focuses so much power in a single person’s hand cannot afford this person to be a gullible trigger-happy moron. Even if he is a more faithful representative of the average American than his opponents.

Anonymous Coward says:

or it's strategic

The other possibility is that the Trump campaign posts it knowing it’s false. This is a good strategy for building enthusiasm among the Trump base. Trump supporters read the tweet and get outraged. They won’t see anyone debunk the tweet in the internet echo chamber, so it seeps into their consciousness as a “fact.” Boom: one more way that Clinton is crooked. Certainly not a strategy unique to the Trump campaign, but they do seem to do this an awful lot.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: or it's strategic

Annnnnd there you go. The narrative of the Trump campaign is that:

– black people are dangerous and scary
– brown people are dangerous and scary
– yellow people are dangerous and scary
– Mexicans are dangerous and scary
– Muslims are dangerous and scary
– Democrats are dangerous and scary
– Reporters are dangerous and scary
– Women are dangerous and scary except when we’re sexually assaulting them, raping them, insulting, doxxing them, accusing them of lying, calling them whores, etc.
– Any Republican not fully backing Trump is dangerous and scary
– Scientists are dangerous and scary
– Educated, literate, thinking people are dangerous and scary

And you know what? This plays amazingly well to the uneducated, the bigoted, and the just plain stupid — who are nearly all of Trump’s base. These people are not only incapable of rational thought, they simply don’t care. They want to hear slogans and they want to be told that “Only Trump can save them” — which, by the way, is straight out of one of his campaign ads.

Cue Living Colour:

I tell you one and one makes three
I’m the Cult of Personality
Like Joseph Stalin and Gandi
I’m the Cult of Personality
The Cult of Personality
The Cult of Personality

SJJ (profile) says:

$3500 to Protest...Really?

I read that Trump’s people are saying Hillary paid an anti-Trump protesters $3,500 each to protest. My goodness, how lucrative has protesting Trump become? And here I was willing to do it for nothing :-). Totally ridiculous but they know people crawling from under rocks will believe anything. I’m waiting for his evidence that these women are lying BUT (a BIG BUT) I will bet it’s a secret so we will never see it…everybody is out to destroy him, not that he’s a total loser. Just tell idiots what they want to hear and he either can’t or doesn’t have to do any of it. This would be funny if it wasn’t so pathetic.

John Mayor says:


This is all the more reason to establish a REAL TIME Global Digital Human Rights mechanism… and placed on one’s taskbar, and in the “Things” that will comprise the ubiquitous Internet of Things!… that will avail netizens the opportunity to report Digital Human Rights violations (e.g., compromising the “integrity” of digital communications, interference with an election process… and etc.!)!
Please!… no emails!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Just Sayin

What about them?

If you think you’ve found a ‘smoking gun’ or particularly damning one in the pile go ahead and share in the comments, or send it to TD via the ‘Submit a story’ link at the bottom of the page.

‘How about those leaked emails’ is uselessly vague unless you want to claim that all of them are incriminating, which I’m guessing is not the case. Highlight specifics if you don’t want to just have your comment just brushed aside as a ‘Look, a distraction!’

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Just Sayin

“So, how about those leaked emails?”

What about them? They’ve been reported on, the negative implications discussed and no new information has been revealed that has any relevance here. If you feel a story is being missed, there’s a submit story option for you to use.

“Roughly 1-2 anti Trump posts per day on TD tho…”

There’s 1-2 new examples of Trump lying, scamming or doing something similarly bad every day so it gets reported on. Are the other candidates doing the same things and not being reported on (no, a story that’s been in the news the entire campaign doesn’t count as new)? Or, is Trump just doing a lot more bad things that need to be reported on?

In my experience, any politician acting in this way gets reported on here. But, if one guy is doing this crap 1-2 times a day and the other only does it once a week, it’s not bias for the former to have 10x more stories written about their behaviour.

Karl (profile) says:

What the Trump campaign thinks of his supporters

Sure, people can get fooled by fake news. But what’s really delicious is this:

“I knew those weren’t real protesters, they were too organized and smart,” said 59-year-old Tom Downey, a Trump supporter who attended the rally in Fountain Hills. “I knew there was something up when they started shouting all these facts and nonsense like that. The best we could do was just yell and punch em’ and stuff.” Downey continued, “I think we did a good job though. I was shouting at them the whole time, calling them losers, telling them to get a job or go back home to mommy’s house; I got a bunch of high-fives from my fellow Trump supporters. It was a great time.”

Someone on the Trump campaign read that paragraph, and said to themselves “yep, that’s exactly what our supporters are like.”

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: What the Trump campaign thinks of his supporters

It’s worse than that actually as for the trick to work the actual supporters either need to not read the article in question or also agree that yeah, that sounds exactly like the sort of thing they would do and/or other Trump supporters would do.

For something like that it has to be at least plausible, so if it does come across as such to them… well, that’s not too flattering for the actual supporters to put it mildly.

Anonymous Coward says:

“It’s no secret that there’s been a huge number of totally fake news websites popping up in the past few years.”

What, like yours has become?

“The Trump campaign, on the other hand, should know better.”

Coming from psudeoliberals, this should be gold…

” I first noticed it when I saw Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway tweet an obviously fake story, claiming that an anti-Trump protestor was really paid by the Clinton campaign.”

Uhm, there’s numouse reports of CL ads hiring anti-trump protesters of which there is plenty of evidence of:

And then we also have the end results which consisted of numerous people being assaulted for being pro-trump:

I’m not even going to bother to read through the rest of your nonsense if it was this easy to debunk it from the beginning…Mike, you’re a disgusting shill and you should be fired from TD.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Hey, partisan! Over here, where the sensible people are.

Right now, pay attention: Mike doesn’t like any of the candidates and merely reports on what catches his attention. He doesn’t pick sides and doesn’t play the dog whistle echo chamber game. He is not obliged in any way to cater to your alt-right sentiments — or to my personal tastes. Or anyone’s. This is his blog and he will run it as he sees fit. It’s called “freedom.”

Off you trot, look up the meaning of the word “freedom”, and let us know what you find. Chances are, it’s not, “Do what I tell you or I’ll accuse you of being my enemy for not taking my side,” no matter where you look for it.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Save your breath. He’s not returned in the 2 days since he posted that, and is clearly entrenched in right-wing echo chambers (his links consist of an anti-Muslim, pro-Trump YouTube channel and a right-wing blog that demands Marines be sent out for… something? Not sure what they’re expected to do). Considering that and not knowing who Mike is employed by (AFAIK, Mike), I doubt he’s interested in having reality invade his cosy bubble.

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