President Donald Trump started off the week by sharing a bit of fake news.
The president on Monday morning elevated a two year old tweet from a copycat account for the conservative outlet The Reagan Battalion, which featured a photograph of Trump meeting President Ronald Reagan and a quote from Reagan praising Trump as a possible future president. (The false account’s Twitter handle was misspelled as “@reaganbattaiion.”)
“For the life of me, and I’ll never know how to explain it, when I met that young man, I felt like I was the one shaking hands with a president,” the photo quotes Reagan as saying, implying that he had foreshadowed Trump’s presidency.
“Cute!” Trump wrote, sharing the tweet.
There was just one problem: the quote was fake.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 8, 2019
According to a report from Snopes back in August 2016, the photograph of the two men meeting is genuine and was taken on November 3, 1987 at a reception for members of the “Friends of Art and Preservation in Embassies” Foundation. But the quote only materialized in July of 2016 via a Facebook group called “Trump Train,” which frequently shares fake stories and pro-Trump quotes. (Another example includes a meme suggesting Kurt Cobain predicted Trump’s presidency using a fake 1993 quote.)
The fake “Reagan Battalion” account that originally posted the photo was later suspended, though Trump did not delete his tweet.
After tweeting out the false quote Monday morning, Trump appeared to discover the active account for the real Reagan Battalion, retweeting several of its tweets showing coverage of his Fourth of July event on the Mall. “A massive crowd that Fake News & some Dems didn’t want to Report!” he added while reposting one tweet.
Trump spent much of the past week tweeting criticism of “fake news” outlets for various stories he felt were unfair to him. Sunday night, he even accused Fox News’ weekend coverage of being “worse than watching low ratings Fake News @CNN,” and “using Fake unsourced @nytimes” reporting.
Trump has long used the allegation “fake news” to try to discredit any reporting that doesn’t portray him in a flattering light. Among other things, he has accused the press of trying to undermine his presidency and has referred to them on several occasions as the “enemy of the people,” ramping up anti-press hostilities that have, in some cases, resulted in foiled violent plots or bomb scares.