Study: Major Media Outlets’ Twitter Accounts Amplify Trump Lies

Research confirming and quantifying the obvious.

Media Matters for America

Major media outlets failed to rebut President Donald Trump’s misinformation 65% of the time in their tweets about his false or misleading comments, according to a Media Matters review. That means the outlets amplified Trump’s misinformation more than 400 times over the three-week period of the study — a rate of 19 per day. The data shows that news outlets are still failing to grapple with a major problem that media critics highlighted during the Trump transition: When journalists apply their traditional method of crafting headlines, tweets, and other social media posts to Trump, they end up passively spreading misinformation by uncritically repeating his falsehoods.

Read the entire study here

Key Takeaways:

  • 30% of the tweets by major media outlets’ Twitter accounts about Trump remarks referenced a false or misleading statement.
  • Nearly two-thirds of the time, the outlets did not dispute that misinformation.
  • That means the outlets amplified false or misleading Trump claims without disputing them 407 times over the three weeks of the study, an average of 19 times a day.
  • The extent to which outlets’ Twitter feeds passively spread Trump’s misinformation depended on the platform in which Trump made his comments. For example:
    • 92% of false or misleading Trump claims went undisputed when he was speaking at a press gaggle or pool spray.
    • 49% of false or misleading Trump claims went undisputed when outlets were responding to comments he made during formal speeches.
  • @TheHill was the worst actor and sent more than 40% of the tweets that pushed Trump’s misinformation without disputing it during our entire study.
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