Colorado Lawmaker Who Called Real Newspaper "Fake News" Apparently Spread Real Fake News on Facebook

02/15/2017 10:16 am ET

Colorado State Sen. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction), who said last week that the Grand Junction Sentinel is "fake news," apparently spread actual fake news on Twitter and Facebook this year and last year.

In October on Facebook, the lawmaker shared a PoliticalInsider.com item, with the headline, "WikiLeaks CONFIRMS Hillary Sold Weapons to ISIS...Then Drops Another BOMBSHELL! Breaking News."

As Snopes determined weeks before Scott shared this post, WikiLeaks did not confirm that Clinton "sold weapons to ISIS." Other credible outlets came to the same conclusion, and it turned out that this Clinton/ISIS falsehood was one of the most popular fake news items prior to the election.

Yet, Scott’s fake news post, which I obtained from a source, sits on the lawmaker’s Facebook page to this day, while he's accusing a real news outlet of being fake news.

Scott did not return a call seeking comment.

Ironically, four days after accusing the Grand Junction Sentinel of being fake news, Scott shared a Sentinel story on his Facebook page, apparently thinking the newspaper's content was real enough to share with his friends. The story was headlined, "Groundwater Appeals Bill Clears Senate Panel," and it quoted Scott as backing the legislation.

In fact, it appears that Scott shares stories from the Sentinel on a regular basis, sometimes criticizing them, sometimes praising them. Scott shared Sentinel stories, for example, with the headlines, "Congressman Tipton, GJS legislator Scott say they still back Trump" and "Single-payer health care measure has Democrats battling Democrats," and "Trump backers rally in support of energy jobs." Scott wrote, "Thanks to those who attended," when he shared of a GJS article July 31 headlined, "Colorado lawmakers listen to praise, gripes about caucuses and primaries."

Scott was a regional field coordinator for the Trump campaign, which may be where he learned Trump's mind-boggling trick of accusing real news outlets of being fake while spreading fake news himself.

On Twitter, Scott has shared fake news as well. In December, Scott tweeted a photo of Trump shaking hands former President Ronald Reagan, with the quote, "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 is real but not the quote, according to Snopes and other credible outlets.

In light of all this, here's some advice for Scott, who may face a lawsuit from the GJS over his fake news comment:  Scott should sign the Fake News Pledge.

It's a promise 1) not to post fake news, defined as false information “packaged to look like news,” and 2) to post a correction and explanation on Facebook if fake news is accidentally posted. The Pledge’s arbiters of fake news are Snopes, Politifact, Factcheck.org, or a respected news outlet. If Pledge signers disagree with the specified arbiters, they do not have to remove anything from Facebook. But they are obliged to explain why they disagree with the fact checkers.

I'll be following up with Scott to see if he'll sign.

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