Well this is awkward.
Donald Trump, the president who cries “fake news!” almost daily, recently fell victim to a doctored cover of Time Magazine … given to him by a member of his very own staff.
K.T. McFarland, Trump’s deputy national security adviser, reportedly handed the president a printout of two Time covers on climate change, according to Politico: one from 2008, and another that appeared to be from 1977, titled, “How to Survive the Coming Ice Age.”
But thing is … the latter was completely fake.
To make matters worse, Trump actually believed both covers, getting “lathered up about the media’s hypocrisy,” writes Shane Goldmacher, chief White House correspondent for Politico. Luckily for the president, a group of less gullible staff members stepped in before Donald Trump publicly mentioned the fake, debunking the already-debunked 1970s cover before the president had the chance spread the own fake news.
As Time noted back in 2013, the “How to Survive the Coming Ice Age” hoax cover was simply a photoshopped version of an April 2007 issue titled, “The Global Warming Survival Guide,” featured below. The fake cover attempts to discredit scientists by suggesting scientists in the ’70s were fixated on the idea of global cooling and are now hypocritically switching to argue the importance of fighting global warming.
Here are the actual Time covers from April 1977, in case you’re still skeptical.
While there have been a fair share of fake Time covers created in the world for the sake of pop culture and protest purposes, the fact that President Trump so hastily believed this doctored image indicates a far larger problem.
Why this is so concerning
Politico noted that Trump has an “open Oval Office” policy that allows a variety of news articles to make their way to the president’s desk from “official and unofficial channels.” This policy essentially eliminates the president’s ability to filter between the what’s real and what’s not. Aside from tweeting, Trump uses the internet “minimally,” says Politico, and a bulk of the stories he does read reportedly include positive praise to boost his ego.
Lisa Brown, who served as White House staff secretary under President Barack Obama for two years, told Politico she feels the process can be “dangerous” in the sense that the president is often left with “incomplete or one-sided information.”
“It’s even more important with someone like this,” Brown told the publication, reflecting on Trump. “You know that people are going to go around the system. But then it’s up to the principal to decide how to handle it,” she said, explaining at the end of the day the president has the responsibility to treat each piece of news that hits his desk with the proper level of skepticism and make it a point to research before acting.
Trump rags on federal civilians for productivity and yet his staff is wasting time digging up fake Time covers and printing them out
— Laura (@tailor31415) May 15, 2017
Despite being false, a White House official reportedly defended the Time cover incident, saying that while the cover was technically fake, it was based accurate events. “While the specific cover is fake, it is true there was a period in the ’70s when people were predicting an ice age,” he said. “The broader point I think was accurate.”
Just for future reference, President Trump, it’d probably be in America’s best interest to focus on reading news that’s true rather than news based on an “accurate broader point.”
Just a thought.