Rep. Jeff Duncan, little-known outside his heavily Republican South Carolina district, just got caught in front of the whole world generating and spreading fake news on his own Facebook page. He then tried to cover it up when he was called-out for it.
Rep. Duncan penned a post this morning that he thought would be a slam-dunk roast of CNN for a story they broke yesterday revealing that Jeff Sessions failed to disclose meetings with Russian officials on his application for a higher security clearance.
The Trump Administration pushed back on the story last night, issuing a statement that did not deny the substance of CNN’s story, but instead attempted to shift the blame for the omission to people advising Sessions, including the FBI:
“…the Attorney General’s staff consulted with those familiar with the process, as well as the FBI investigator handling the background check, and was instructed not to list meetings with foreign dignitaries and their staff connected with his Senate activities.”
That was enough for Rep. Duncan, who used the response as a pretext to launch a larger assault on the mainstream media. His post reads in part:
“This is just one of a long line of false reports coming from the media attacking President Trump, his cabinet, and his supporters. The media was never this critical to President Obama, the recent Harvard study proves that the media has applied a completely different standard to President Trump than they did to President Obama. The American people need to stand up and demand fair treatment from the media. We also have a duty to get the truth out to the public, which is what I try to do on this page every day.
Rep. Duncan appears to be taking a principled stance here. What honest, red-blooded American can argue with a congressman standing up for truth and fair treatment of politicians, and then takes it upon himself to deliver that truth and fair treatment?
There’s only one problem here. Rep. Duncan lied in the first part of his post.
His missive began on a celebratory note, reveling in what he said was the fact that CNN had ‘retracted’ their story and removed it from their website. They hadn’t. And they still haven’t. CNN responded on Twitter to correct the record and provide a link to the story, still quite prominent and quite available on their website.
Rather than apologize for his pre-mature dance on the grave of CNN’s story – or simply issue a statement that he’d been misinformed or mis-read the situation, or saying that he just made an honest mistake – he did what all guardians of truth and fairness do: he tried to erase his lies, replace them with statements more correct sounding, and then act like the lie never happened in the first place. Done and done, right?
Unfortunately for the South Carolina congressman, there’s no erasing on the internet. CNN captured the original post to include in their tweet, and there are some very interesting differences between the original post and the post that appears on his Facebook page now, after CNN’s Twitter response:
We can think of a dozen titles to give Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, but ‘defender of truth and fairness’ can never be one of them.
Peter Mellado is a writer, producer, and a branding and messaging specialist with over 15 years experience. He studied history at San Jose State University, and resides in Los Angeles.