Media rushed to blame far-right so they could demonize all conservatives
Having breathlessly reported that Florida gunman Nikolas Cruz was a member of a white supremacist group, media outlets across the world failed to issue retractions when it emerged that this story was completely fake news.
The farce began when the Anti-Defamation League and Associated Press reported that a representative of the Republic of Florida Militia, a group that believes in a “white ethnostate,” told them that Cruz was a member of the organization.
However, it quickly emerged that the story had begun as a prank on the notorious 4chan messaging board after members had convinced another individual, Jordan Jereb, to falsely tell the media that Cruz was an “affiliate” of the white supremacist group.
This was then picked up by the ADL and the Associated Press and reported as fact. In reality, Cruz was never a member of the group, which is based in Tallahassee, about 430 miles away from where the shooting took place.
Law enforcement officials in Florida subsequently confirmed that they had found no connection between Cruz and the white supremacist group.
In their eagerness to pin the horrific massacre on far-right “white supremacists” (which could then be extrapolated out to demonize all conservatives for the shooting), the media ran with the story despite having no independent confirmation whatsoever.
Almost 24 hours after it was confirmed that the original story about Cruz being a member of a white supremacist group was fake news, the AP, the ADL and others have failed to remove tweets and news stories that are completely erroneous.
The original Associated Press tweet claiming the white supremacist link was “confirmed” has nearly 40,000 retweets and remains up.
Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the ADL, still has a tweet at the top of his Twitter page which claims, “Spokesperson for white supremacist group Republic of Florida admitted to ADL that Nikolas Cruz, alleged perpetrator of deadly Parkland school shooting, was a member & trained with his group, which seeks to create a “white ethnostate.”
Time Magazine still has a headline up which states, What to Know About Republic of Florida, the White Supremacist Militia That Nikolas Cruz Attended, except Cruz never attended the group at all.
GQ Magazine reports, The Florida Shooter’s Ties to White Supremacy Shouldn’t Surprise Anyone. They probably would surprise people given that they don’t exist.
A basic Google News search turns up dozens of publications that have not retracted the fake news story.
“4chan has proven time and time again it can easily manipulate the press,” summarized Tim Pool. “Journalists need to get their heads (out) of their asses and stop falling for this kind of shit. Maybe it would have been prudent to wait for law-enforcement confirmation or comment before reporting the hoax.”