Tonight, at a rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, President Donald Trump claimed that Hillary Clinton colluded with Russians to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. This is almost certainly a lie. Trump cited no evidence to back up this claim, because there isn’t any. And yet: here is the headline, from MSNBC:
The story’s subhed, of course, notes that the allegation was evidence-free. But this is still a story, the accusation is still there, getting repeated, getting splashed in bold font across Twitter and Facebook and who knows where else. Here’s how NBC News tweeted it out:
There’s no evidence-free in the tweet’s text. It’s just the allegation, sitting there again. Here’s the context NBC News gave:
Trump has discussed that theory publicly and on Twitter, but his remarks Wednesday night amounted to an unusually direct allegation that Clinton herself conspired with the Russian government to influence the election. He offered no evidence of his claim.
That’s good, that makes sense! It’s fine to note in a paragraph of a story that Trump made an “unusually direct allegation” of Clinton-Russia collusion. But plastering it as an unchallenged headline is bad. It’s going to get a shitload of clicks, but it’s bad. It’s not helping. We don’t have to repeat his lies. We don’t have to block quote his misleading ramblings. We don’t have to say things are “false” when we can prove them to be a lie. But he knows we will, and that’s why he keeps saying this kind of stuff.
Here’s the clip on video, for reference.