A faked screenshot of a purported tweet by President-elect Donald Trump stirred outrage online until it was belatedly proven to be fake news. In the fabricated tweet, Trump supposedly called Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) “a pig.” However, several Twitter users, including a correspondent for The Nation, were ready to believe that the doctored image was real. The tweet attributed to Trump was never sent by him.
Timestamped on the afternoon of January 12, the fake tweet referred to a still unexplained interruption of C-SPAN’s transmission of proceedings in the House of Representatives by programming from RT: a media outlet wholly controlled by the Russian government. At the time of the interruption, Walters was speaking from the well of the House when the C-SPAN feed was abruptly cut off.
The false tweet attributed to Trump read: “Overrated Maxine Water [sic] cut-off by RT because she’s so unfair and terrible,” the faked tweet read. “C-SPAN made right call. Much improved viewing without that pig!”
Twitter user "Jason Miller" tweeted after the supposed Trump post appeared: “Pissed pants at presser. Tough guy on Twitter.” Miller’s account notes his location as Wroclaw, Poland, and included a link to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Pissed pants at presser. Tough guy on Twitter.— (((Jason Miller ❄))) (@costlylovewins) January 13, 2017
Waters (1994): “Men and women, the day is over when men can badger and intimidate women!" pic.twitter.com/wT1ZxFCuaz
Correspondent Joan Walsh of The Nation gave a response to the false tweet and shared it, too. Brian Stelter noted early today that Walsh had been fooled. “Trump never called Maxine Walters a ‘pig,’” he wrote on Twitter.
Twitter users are advised to be careful when using the website and to examine tweets carefully. For example, the fake tweet used a “favorite” function now retired by Twitter that used a star icon. That icon was retired in 2015 and replaced by a heart icon to indicate “likes.” Another red flag is that the false image did not have a blue check icon that indicates verified accounts such as Trump’s. Also, the tweet mis-spelled Walter’s surname.
There are online databases that log tweets even if they are later deleted.
For her part, Walsh wrote back to Stelter saying she should have done better at checking her sources. However, she added, “Sad that it wasn’t unthinkable.”