President Donald Trump — the man who has made "fake news" into a popular right-wing epithet — once again seems to have made a baseless claim after reading a story from a conservative media outlet.
The president woke up very early on Wednesday morning to post this tweet:
Although there is no way to know for sure where Trump got the idea that China had hacked into Clinton's private email server, the assertion in Trump's tweet is so abrupt and specific that the most likely culprit is a piece published by reporter Richard Pollock in The Daily Caller on Monday.
According to Pollock's story:
A Chinese-owned company operating in the Washington, D.C., area hacked Hillary Clinton’s private server throughout her term as secretary of state and obtained nearly all her emails, two sources briefed on the matter told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Chinese firm obtained Clinton’s emails in real time as she sent and received communications and documents through her personal server, according to the sources, who said the hacking was conducted as part of an intelligence operation.
The Chinese wrote code that was embedded in the server, which was kept in Clinton’s residence in upstate New York. The code generated an instant “courtesy copy” for nearly all of her emails and forwarded them to the Chinese company, according to the sources.
The Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) found that virtually all of Clinton’s emails were sent to a “foreign entity,” Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, said at a July 12 House Committee on the Judiciary hearing. He did not reveal the entity’s identity, but said it was unrelated to Russia.
Trump had alluded to the Daily Caller's story in a late Tuesday night tweet as well.
This is the third time in the past week that Trump has displayed a seemingly credulous attitude toward stories from right-wing media outlets. He also claimed that South Africa's government was implementing an anti-white policy, an argument that has been made by Fox News talking head Tucker Carlson, and that Google was deliberately promoting anti-Trump stories over pro-Trump stories when users searched for his name, an assertion first put forth by the conservative site PJ Media. Neither of those claims have been independently verified and it seems that Trump wound up believing them solely based on having encountered them at popular conservative media outlets.
There is no indication that Trump is going to stop using the "fake news" epithet toward others, given his own propensity for buying into unverified or outright false media reports.