CNN has refused to respond to an intentional deceitful Tweet by one of their reporters that featured a “conversation overheard” among Republican senators that was completely made up.
Former Clinton White House press secretary, and current CNN contributor, Joe Lockhart received more than 9,000 retweets and 36,000 likes for a tweet claiming to report an overheard conversation between two Fox News-watching GOP senators. “Is this stuff real? I haven’t heard any of this before. I thought it was all about a server,” the senators supposedly said. “If half the stuff Schiff is saying is true, we’re up shit’s creek. Hope the White House has exculpatory evidence.”
Replies to the tweet indicate that many people took Lockhart’s scoop seriously. When reached for comment about the episode, a CNN spokesman redirected press inquiries to a communications director for the network who, according to outlet The Washington Beacon, ignored multiple requests for comment.
In follow-up tweets, Lockhart acknowledged that he “made up” the overheard conversation and called it satire. Lockhart did not delete the misleading tweet even as it went viral, and the clarifying tweets did not achieve the same reach as the original.
After he continued to receive criticism from conservative and liberal journalists alike, Lockhart characterized his detractors as “purveyors of Pizzagate and the Seth Rich conspiracy.” He tweeted, “Seems like I poked the bear today. The purveyors of Pizzagate and the Seth Rich conspiracy are lecturing me on honesty. I told a joke, you guys are a destructive joke that is killing our democracy. Other than that, hope you’re enjoying the trial and have a nice evening.”
In the past, CNN itself has repeatedly said that satire or so-called parody, is no excuse for spreading “fake news,” particularly if some internet users mistake it for genuine news. CNN and others have accused comedy websites of hiding behind satire to intentionally mislead voters while dodging punishment from social media companies.
However, it seems that they do not hold themselves, or Adam Schiff –who later admitted that his false recount of the Ukraine call during the early part of the House inquiry was a “parody” – to the same standard!